A Valentine’s dedication to my love of English

Today is the day of love, and though I could be swooning over my other half at Pizza Hut or somewhere equally classy tonight I’ll probably be spending the night writing my dissertation. But that’s okay, I’ll still be in the company of my great (other) love: words.

It’s come to my attention lately just how much I love the English language. This is mostly Stephen Fry’s fault. I’ve always adored studying English but reading his latest autobiography recently and watching him present an award at last night’s Baftas reminded me of why he is simply my favourite person (well, at least my favourite person that I do not know personally). Some people think he comes across as a confident know-it-all with an upturned nose at anyone who has not read the entire collections of Sherlock Holmes. I, however, think he simply enjoys words so much he maximises his use of them, and does so profoundly well too. Even writing the letters ‘i’ and ‘j’ in handwritten ink is a luxury to him for the opportunity to make a perfect diamond shape with the tip of a quill to mark the dots at the top. That’s real love.

Words written, thought, spoken, typed or beautifully handwritten are all tropical creatures. Some are small, short and easy to identify while others go on forever to provide the most eloquent charm to read and say.

It is for this reason that it angers me beyond words (ha, the irony) to hear repetitive use of made up excuses of junk, doing only harm and insult to every dictionary within hearing distance. I was in the unfortunate situation last week of sitting at the only free computer in the library, placed between two individuals that insisted on using little more than the utterance ‘innit’ (even my spell-check is angry at me for typing it) for a solid three hours. It was infuriating to say the least, and continued to baffle me for some time. When there are so many luxurious or simple words to choose from, why make one up that A) makes no sense, and B) makes the user appear incredibly stupid? It’s the same as dressing ridiculously (tracksuit and heavy gold-coated jewellery wearers, I’m talking to you): these things serve no purpose and do damage to the auditory and visual senses of others, in addition to ridiculing yourself beyond belief.

In the end I was forced to choose between leaving quietly or making my thoughts known, which would almost definitely have ended in an embarrassment on my part, and so I went for the first, not before shooting a few glares of hatred their way. (Believe me, I wish I had the confidence to do otherwise, especially considering the location and the tolerated use of any words.)

But that’s the rant over with, to go back to a lighter note I’ll finish with a short selection of some of my favourite words, based on the pleasure of pronouncing them:

Cappuccino: admittedly not completely English, but still, a fantastic selection of four syllables.

Eloquent: makes me think of an elegant elephant, pronounced perfectly.

Metacognition: contains all the high pitches and low drum notes of a word

Felicitation: ah, perfection! If you don’t understand why this word sounds so good, I’m afraid I can’t explain it to you.

Haere ra.

Dedicated to literary artist and birthday boy, Richard Sutherland.

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