Homeschool Life, Personal Journey

National Dictionary Day

dictionaryI say this in love: Noah Webster was a total geek.  He knew 26 languages.  Not letters.  Languages.  Don’t you find it odd that he knew exactly the same number of languages as letters in the English alphabet? I wonder if it was a personal goal of his to know that many languages.  When did he find time to speak in them all?

I am convicted of the crime of not using nearly enough of my brain. So are we all.

In honor of Noah Webster and his overachieving ways, why not learn a new word today?  My favorite word, learned in the course of a writing game played with my class, is mordant.  It fits me like a sausage casing.  I’d tell you the definition, but then you wouldn’t go use a dictionary on National Dictionary Day.  Unless you already know the definition.  In that case, may I have your autograph? And can we be friends?

There should be a National Thesaurus Day.  Thesaurusing is a verb I’ve created to describe the process of trashing generic and overused descriptors, verbs, and even nouns, and replacing them with better, more vivid, more academically-mature words.  I’ve gotten some doozies in the process of this exercise.  When students don’t understand the flavor of certain words (or parts of speech), I get things like: I did a ravishing job on the dishes.  Or: Her pulchritudinous lips were too much for me to bear; I had to osculate them.

I tell them I’d rather see a grammar misstep than nostep.  It would be more a shame for them never to have broadened their brood vocabularies.  There.  See?  I thesaurused “young” to describe their vocabularies. The noun young came up, and its synonym, brood, also a noun.  See how easy it is to make a complete fool of yourself with a thesaurus?  One who would write must be willing to write badly.  I am willing. I’ve proven it.  Now go and have a look in Webster’s Compendious English Dictionary (published in 1806).  Today people run from words like compendious.  Perhaps they’re afraid to show their broodness.  Perhaps that’s the beginning of what’s wrong with America.  To be a student I must be teachable; to be teachable I must be willing to not know something.

Advertisements
Poetry

The Agnostic Goes to Church

Brittle as my polish was, and subject

to my ensemble’s perfection;

yet it so swiftly deteriorated, as if God wanted

that I should not be wearing my best, but honestly

clothed in the dust I carried around each day,

and would become soon enough.

Impulse buying does not work with God.

He wanted me to pick through the junk, to smell

the souls of old clothing, and feel their months against

my skin.  He wanted me to choose the modest dress for Him.

However did I make it out of church, holding myself in?

I left there a beggar, a shoplifter

with words in my skirt folds, words

for later, pressing them against myself, dropping

some.  Everybody’s hungry for words.

But certain words are harder to eat than others.

I wanted to get home and spill them on the kitchen floor.

I wanted to hold them until they didn’t feel like pieces.

Surely if I turned them around enough, if I

kissed them a while, they would change magically

from verses and mines into mincemeat pies I could eat.

1998