Rich and Versatile, Indeed

Last week, I published a post about “Rules for Writing.”  In that post I said that I particularly like P. D. James five rules, one of which was:

Increase your word power.  Words are the raw material of our craft.  The greater your vocabulary the more ­effective your writing.  We who write in English are fortunate to have the richest and most versatile language in the world.  Respect it.

The English language is indeed rich and versatile.  It’s idiosyncrasies aside, it is truly an incredible language full of wonderful words—a quarter million of them, if you believe the folks at Oxford (you know, of the dictionary fame).

If I had to choose only one favorite word, it’d be crepuscular, which means “of, resembling, or relating to twilight.”  It has a great feel on the tongue.  Other great words to me: masticate (to chew), pusillanimous (showing a lack of courage; timid), and susurrus (whispering; murmuring).  If only there were more opportunities during my daily discourse to use these words.

About D. Thomas Minton

Writer of speculative fiction
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4 Responses to Rich and Versatile, Indeed

  1. shobavish says:

    This great post about language, words specifically, called out to me! I am a word-lover too – and please trust me that this is not mere link sharing for self-promotion!

  2. Marc Schuster says:

    Great point… And speaking of the OED, I highly recommend The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester.

  3. Colum Paget says:

    # We who write in English are fortunate to have the richest and most
    # versatile language in the world.

    Comments like this always bug the hell out of me. How does James know this? Does she speak Mandarin? Swahilli? Inuitt? For all we know the richest and most versatile language is spoken by dolphins.

    What does ‘rich’ even mean in this context?

    I bet you that Chinese, French, Russian and Tagalog speakers tell themselves the exact same thing, and I bet they’re all wrong.

    Obviously, the richest and most versatile language in the world is FORTRAN, as any fewl know.

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