Tag Archives: writing

Words Words Words by David Crystal Words Words Words

Author: David Crystal

Publisher:  Oxford University 2006

Genre:  Nonfiction — Language

Pages: 216

Rating:  5 / 5 stars

Reading Challenges: Dewey — 400s; Fall into Reading

How I Got It: Library loan

“Lexicography is not just an exercise in linguistic accounting,” writes preeminent English language scholar David Crystal in this exceptionally lively and erudite little book. “It is a voyage of lexical exploration and discovery.”
In Words, Words, Words, Crystal takes readers on a fascinating linguistic adventure, exploring the English language in all its oddity, complexity, and ever-changing beauty. Traveling from word origins and word evolution to wordgangs, wordrisks, wordplay, wordgames and beyond, Crystal shares his immense knowledge of, and equally immense delight in, language. He celebrates new words, old words, words that “snarl” and words that “purr,” elegant words and taboo words, plain English words and convoluted gobbledegook, eponyms and antonyms, spoonerisms and malapropisms, and a host of other written and spoken forms and variations.
I grabbed this book for my Dewey challenge simply because the 400s selection at my library is slim.  This was just about the only book not foreign language learning.  But I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.  Crystal obviously has a love of language and wants to make language accessible to others.  I learned some many interesting tidbits about language.  I also enjoyed the review of language construction.  This was such a fun book to read in an afternoon.  Now I want to rush out and learn more about language.  I think I will start with a word-a-day service.
Some interesting tidbits of information:
  • The origin of 404 messages comes from the room number of the researchers at CERN
  • We all have wordhoards (the collection of words in our heads)
  • A new word, debagonization (the cessation of anxiety when our luggage eventually emerges from the black hole of an airport carousel)
  • Latin evolved from a prehistoric tongue called Indo-European
  • Did you know that kingly is Germanic, royal is French, and regal is Latin?  Now you do
  • 98 of the top 100 English words (in terms of frequency) are Anglo-Saxon in origin
  • British accent is called Received Pronunciation while the US one General American
Dewey Decimal System

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Posted by on December 6, 2012 in Book Reviews


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In library paradise

I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library. — Jorge Luis Borges

You know the library in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast?  Yeah, that’s heaven to me.  I’ve always dreamed of living in a house just big enough for a proper library room.  A room filled floor to ceiling with bookcases, a comfy leather chair with ottoman, a small side table with reading lamp (just big enough for a cup of tea), and possibly a fireplace. That is heaven to me. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.  I have an iPad.  I am trying to read more digital books (save space and for travel purposes), and yet I keep going back to the old physical library.  I still want that room.  I fear that the old libraries of the past will slowly disappear in our newly digital world.  I don’t want to lose that comfort, that little piece of paradise in our chaotic lives.

From Beautiful Libraries

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Posted by on November 16, 2012 in Books, Writings



NaNoWriMo – TPTBD Update and Reflections

It’s been a few days since I started NaNoWriMo…  okay okay it’s been only three days sinceIi started.  But I must say that I’m not going to finish the goal of 50,000 words.  I just know this.  It’s my first time attempting something this big.  I started off strong on Day 1 writing 1056 words.  I thought a very respectable word total for someone completely an amateur and unprepared for this.  Day 2 I wrote a measly 656 words.  That’s it…  One chapter.  And now I’m temporarily out of motivation.  That means that I know I will not be reaching 50,000 words.  Yet, I am okay with that.  My realistic goal is 20,000 words.  I also probably won’t be participating in any of the online or physical events.  I view this year as testing the waters.  What does it feel like to attempt something like this?  Do I want to attempt this next year?  Should I vary my attempts and/or strategies?  This year is my trial run.

Good luck to all the other writers out there.  I know that some of them will create some wonderful pieces that actually have a future.  I don’t think mine will, but that’s okay.  To me it’s all about the exercise. 

I will be trying to write every day.  So I will probably have fewer blog entries than usual for this month.  I am still reading (not going to give that up), but not at a frenzied pace.  Book reviews will appear sporadically.  Other posts may also appear that have nothing to do with books.  I might feel inspired some day to write about life, or crafting, or my job, or music, or food.  I also have a few reading challenge goals to accomplish this month to stay on track.  I am determined to knock out at least two challenges (only 3 books aways!).  We’ll see.  And if I’m feeling less critical of myself, I might even put up some passages from my NaNoWriMo attempt: The Place that Bordered Death…

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Posted by on November 3, 2011 in Writings


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Life in Material — RW #3

The camera shutter clicked noisily, echoing in the still house.  No one present to hear the sound.

Well, no one but the photographer.  The photographer was excited at the prospect.  To everyone else, this mission was one of everyday banal.  Document the life beyond the change.  What does it mean to our things when we leave?  The photographer had become obsessed with the stuff of our lives before.  Before everything changed.  On this late September morning, the photographer entered the little white split level house at 5476 Island Dr.

A doorknob.  Not yet showing signs of decomposition.  How many had touched this?  How many had used this simple machine to escape from the cold, the rain, the humidity, the glare of the sun?  In the after, doorknobs were still in use.  But they didn’t hold the promise of safety and belonging beyond like they once did.  Such a shame, thought the photographer.  This one was still shiny, almost like it was still being polished by human hands.

A chair.  How many hours were spent sitting enjoying the company of others or the company of the moving pictures on the screen?  Such a time when a few hours in front of the box was a perfectly acceptable way to spend an evening.  Now there is no time for relaxing.  There’s always work to do.  Things to repair, things to make, things to watch for.  The photographer wanted to sink into the comfy arms of the chair and drift off to dreamland.  But there was only a few hours of light left.  The photographer had to move on.

The next room revealed another chair.  This one a brilliant orange.  The photographer remembered the time when everything was colorful.  Clothes, furniture, cars, people were all the colors of the rainbow.  Now the photographer was lucky to see a color this bright after the spring rains.  But those were few and far between.  The photographer sat at the foot of the chair and just stared until all the photographer could see was orange.  A color full of life.

A laundry basket.  What were these used for now?  Carrying things to and fro.  Much like the old use.  But the old use held clean and fragrant clothing.  All the dirt, sweat, and grime washed out.  A new start.

Now where were the new starts?  The promise and hope of something just around the corner?  The photographer couldn’t find it in the settlements.  The photographer could find it in the lost things of a life in material.

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Posted by on August 8, 2011 in Writings



Non-Review Reads – Week of June 13, 2011

While traveling to and from Disney World, I read or skimmed some books.  Thought I would do another Non-review reads to wrap up my reads of the past week.

Juicy Writing by Brigid Lowry 

Full of some great advice for young writers (I’m including myself as I am just starting to write seriously).  I loved all the of the writing exercises highlighted.  Hopefully you’ll be seeing some of them on my blog in the future.

The Writer’s Idea Book by Jack Heffron

Another how-to/advice guide to writing.  Definitely didn’t find this one as engaging or helpful as Lowry’s book.

Buffy Omnibus Vol. 5

This volume covers some fun side stories plus Oz’s travels.  I’m moving through the Buffy comics!

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Posted by on June 20, 2011 in Books



The New World – RW #2

A few nights ago, I started reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.  Since then, I have had the same dream for two nights.  Set in a world like hers, but not like hers.  This is where today’s story comes from…

On Tuesday, she found him.  Or maybe he found her.  He arrived with a truckload of survivors coming from the southeast.  They were dirty, hungry, and tired.  She didn’t see him at first and he didn’t see her.  The rest were given a hot meal and access to a shower.  Then they were given the rules of the settlement and processed (name, date of birth, special skills).  They were then loaded into one of the few reserved trucks and delivered to their new homes with work schedules in hand.  But he remained sitting at the back of the barn, not raising his eyes from the ground.

While processing the others, she had asked their leader who he was.  The leader replied that they had picked him up a few days back.  He had been sitting on top of a car in the middle of a parking lot staring off in the distance.  He hadn’t talked to any of them, but completed simple tasks if instructed.  That was all he knew.

Soon, the rest of the new arrivals had left, leaving her and him, still sitting at the back of the barn, still staring at the floor.  She approached warily.  Often she had encountered ones who had “lost their marbles” due to the stress of life now.  She was afraid he was one of those, but she still had to try and reach him.  Maybe there was some sort of recognition in the form that made her less afraid than at other times.  Or maybe she was having a hopeful day.  For whatever reason, she approached him and slowly knelt into his eye line.  She looked into the face and cried aloud his name.  He merely stared back.  She cried his name again, grabbing his hands, squeezing, hoping for some kind of response.  He simply stared.  Maybe he was too far gone, but she wouldn’t allow that thought to stay. She cried his name again, this time his full name.  She started to recite the story of how they met, the fun things they had done together.  Very quietly, barely audible, he said her name.  And with that admission some kind of life flowed back in his eyes.

She clutched at him, drawing him into a tight embrace.  They hadn’t have been lovers, but an outsider wouldn’t have known that from their embrace.  When the world ended, people did away with conventional notions of relationships.  The survivors needed each other for survival for some sort of normalcy.  People came to rely on each more and more each day.  And so she held him tight to her body not wanting to let go.

She had to take care of him now.  He wasn’t in any shape to be processed and sent off into some unknown house with unknown people.  And so she found the former waitress to take over at the reception desk.  She get him a meal and let him eat.  Afterward, she grabbed a welcome bag of toiletries and a towel and pushed him into the shower.  The entire time he bathed, she stood just outside the bathhouse, not willing to stray too far from him.  He finished, dressed, and emerged looking more like the man she used to know.  They proceeded to slowly walk, hand in hand, to her house.  Because where else was she going to take him?  He was hers to take care of now and she wasn’t going to lose him in the chaos of the settlement.

That night, she had a hard time falling asleep, replaying all the events that led up to him sleeping in the next room.  Before she could finally nod off, she felt a presence at the door.  He tried to sleep, but couldn’t.  He wanted to lay with her, for the comfort of another alive human being, for the comfort of knowing someone from the Old World.  For this was the New World.  Where life had been completely turned on its head.  Where all that they held dear had been shattered by the sickness.  Where the most simple tasks took on new meaning when faced with the future.  Where people reached for each other with more yearning than ever before.  And so she moved over so he could climb in.  They didn’t speak, didn’t move all night.  Just slept the first peaceful sleep each other had in months.

Now that they had found each other, maybe the future held some hope.  Maybe the settlement would survive.  Maybe they could learn a new life with new people.  Maybe, just maybe, they could survive and have a real life….


Posted by on May 20, 2011 in Writings



Quote Wednesday – Twain

Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words. — Mark Twain

I have tried to write more lately.  I actually woke up in the middle of the night a few days ago plagued by a story.  I couldn’t get the story out of my mind.  So, I pulled out my laptop and started typing.  The result will be posted here on Friday.  It may not be great, it may not be good, but I felt like I needed to get it out my mind and on paper (so to speak).  I feel like I have a ton of stories floating around in my head.  But I stubble when it comes to creating what I think is a polished story.  If I go back over a story, I started agonizing over every word.  And I give up.  The editing gets to me.  It always throws me off my commitment to writing.  With this new endeavor, I am trying to not pay attention to the words once they’re out of me.  I just start writing.  I don’t think about how it all goes together.  I just go where the story takes me.  Hopefully this will allow me to get the stories out.   They may not be perfect but they’re my stories.

So yes Mr. Twain writing is easy.  It’s just all those pesky wrong words that get in the way.


Posted by on May 18, 2011 in Quote Wednesday, Writings