Thursday, December 12, 2013

Word Play

by Allison Pang

Many moons ago when I was in high school, one of my favorite English teachers mentioned a study that indicated that the easiest word to pronounce in the English language was "syphilis."

It just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

Unfortunately it sucks to try to spell, but that's another topic all together. (And yeah, okay, STD and all, but as a word, I guess it's still rather interesting.)

High school was one of those time when the SATs were big, so of course everyone I knew was busy studying the vocab - which meant an awful lot of stuff like "My, but you're looking lugubrious today!" or "Let's make sure to promulgate this information!" being thrown out in random conversation.

I'll be honest, though - for the most part, I don't really love OR hate too many words - for me, it's whatever gets the job done. In a lot of ways I feel like writing words is sort of like drinking wine. And no, I don't really drink...but I have been to tastings and I always find it fascinating how one wine can taste fabulous with one sort of food - and like total shit with another.

It's a lot like that for me with words and phrases. Sometimes it's not even a specific word by itself that is good or bad, but the other words around it that can make or break it for me.

I mean, one of my most favorite phrases is Shakespeare's "Now is the winter of our discontent" - by themselves, I certainly wouldn't say winter or discontent was my favorite or most hated, but together? I find it completely fascinating.

That being said, I always run a word mosaic on a finished draft/manuscript to see which words I'm using the most. If I went by that, I'd have to say that apparently my favorite words are JUST, BACK, KNOW, GAZE and EYES.


I don't really use most of those in my writing, but I like the way they feel when I say them.  Except for malodorous  - yes, it's a Monty Python reference - bonus points to anyone who knows the line/skit that it's from.)

I will say that sometimes it's not even about the words so much as how they're spelled. grey vs gray, for example. I like gray better than grey. Or the UK way of spelling traveller is so much nicer to me than the American traveler.

Hated words? Eh. The only one I really dislike is pussy. I can happily juggle cunts all day in prose (in a literary sense...not literally), but I won't use pussy if I can help it. Just doesn't float my boat, so to speak.

1 comment:

  1. Gray vs. grey. For some reason in my head, those words conjure two different shades. I use gray for light gray and grey for dark grey.