Saturday, April 25, 2009
While I love words in general, there are some words that stand out even more than others. For the past 48 hours, for example, the word "robust" has been a constant companion. But my favorite word of all time is "sesquipedalian."
There are two things I love about "sesquipedalian." The first is that it has some weight to it. While it's not the longest word I've ever used in a sentence, it is no slouch. With 14 letters, five syllables and a full palette of sounds, it creates its own landscape in the mouth - and it is fun terrain to cover! (By the way, the longest word I have used would be "Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg" - and yes, I'm proud that I can pronounce it!)
The second thing I love about it has to do with its definition. "Sesquipedalian" is an adjective that literally means "foot and a half long" (sesqui- one and a half; ped foot), and is used to describe words which have a lot of syllables. In other words, "sesquipedalian" is a very sesquipedalian word.
I love it when a words' form illustrates its own definition like that. "Misspelled" doesn't do anything special for me, but "mispelled" puts a tingle down my spine. Likewise, for me to really appreciate "redundant," "redundant" must be used redundantly, when the use of "redundant" is clearly redundant. I think "abbreviation" fails as a word, where "abbr." succeeds. And I'm sure you know how I think the word "parentheses" should always be written (hint: in parentheses).
With a pencil in hand, this sort of thing can take on even more dimension. For example, the word "tall" ends up with letters stretched higher than other words on the page. And don't even get me started on the word "ornate."