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April 4, 2004

Lingual Interest

English has a distinct lack of truly interesting words. Sit through a couple decades of English courses, and you learn useful words like notwithstanding. If you're lucky, you might pick up the most interesting word in the language: onomatopoeia.

In one semester of an introductory art history class, you get cool words like sfumato and chiaroscuro. Sure, we Americans have ungodly long words like antidisestablishmentarianism, but where's the fun in that word? It sounds like the verbal equivalent of retching. It doesn't easily fit into conversation. You can always turn a conversation to art, but to establishmentarianism? I think not.

Antidisestablishmentarianism, coincidentally, was the word my mother gave me when I was studying for the spelling bee in third grade and wanted a really hard word. Rather disappointingly, it was long rather than hard (that sounds awful out of context, doesn't it?), and I successfully spelled it upon my second try. To date, I have never used it in conversation nor heard it used. Even our freakish words get no love.

Posted by Colin at April 4, 2004 10:49 PM

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"Onomatopoeia" is definitely a great word. My favorites are "serendipity," "discombobulated," and "indubidably." :)

Posted by: D at April 4, 2004 10:56 PM

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