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Sunday, June 16, 2019

Father's Day and the Amazing English Language

cj Sez:  First, I want to wish a Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers, step-fathers, great-and-grandfathers, and adoptive fathers. I hope this day is the start of a healthy and happy year.

  I was re-organizing the backup files for my blog the other day, and that means I "had" to re-read every post. I found a few interesting ones, including one about our dynamic English language. So before I delete my comments , I think it’s worthwhile to repeat that 2016 post one more time.
…. A friend sent me this quote from a fellow blogger, Sol Sanders:  “Perhaps the glory of the English language is that it so expressive. Its remarkable heterogeneous origins have given it an almost limitless vocabulary. And American English, particularly, has used that tool with an enormous flexibility to make it the international means of communication. One is able with a minimum of linguistic dexterity to capture every meaning, or almost every nuance.”

Read it out loud. It does make sense.
  Mr. Sanders’s comments were part of an introduction to his essay on what today’s journalism and media do with the English language. The gist of his blog is that journalism and media people over-complicate their sentences with words that muddy their meanings—changing nouns into verbs and, perhaps, calling a shovel a “hand-held, earth-moving tool.” (I’ve seen those descriptions in engineering technical specifications papers also.)

  Yes, as a writer, I use nouns as verbs. Yes, I deliberately obfuscate and happily add the disclaimer that it’s for the sake of telling the story. I am drawn to the syntax, symbolism, and syncopation of a well-crafted sentence that is the hallmark of successful mystery/thriller/suspense novelists. It’s using that “minimum of linguistic dexterity to capture every meaning, or almost every nuance” that appeals to me, and, I think, to readers of those genres. They want to try to decipher the code, find the clues, and solve the crime. I like confusing the issue. 

   That said, I do have a few personal dislikes of changing nouns into verbs. One is the word “impactful”—a noun turned into a verb turned into an adjective by adding ful on the end. What the Sam Hill does that mean?

   Did you know that we're also speaking Greek? The truth is that English is a living language. It’s constantly evolving as we create new words and new definitions to compliment new technology. Therein lies a conundrum:  The generations cease to understand each other at an almost exponential pace. Many times I need an interpreter to understand teen-talk, and I think if I texted often (a noun turned into a verb because of technology), I’d forget how to spell.

  Coda:  IMHO, the gloriously expressive English language is what makes the craft of writing so fascinating.

  I’m still working on my craft. How are you doing with yours?
  That’s it for this week’s post. I hope you found a nugget in here that you can use. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.


DEADLY STAR excerpt (scene is after a plane crash in the desert):  Afraid to stay and afraid to leave, Mirabel began to shiver in the sweltering heat. She knew the rules for a crash. Dan repeated them before each time they flew. Stay with the plane. Searchers can see a plane. A hiker is just another invisible grain of sand. She stared long and hard at the purple haze of sawtooth hills in the distance then kissed his waxen cheek.
     “I have to go,” she whispered.

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1 comment:

  1. Speaking of nouns turned into verbs...have you Googled lately.

    Technically, Google isn't even a word, it's a company name, yet everyone seems to know what Googled means. The English language is so fluid.


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