I seem to learn a new word and its meaning everyday. Who comes up with them and how do they then become part of our day to day language and vocabulary?
I work with a lot of young people and there are occasions when we’re having a conversation and they use words and expressions that I don’t understand, I must have a quizzical look on my face because then they’ll patiently explain what it means. Alternatively I’ll ask them to explain what they’re on about as I like to try and understand new things and experiences.
Four times a year the Oxford English Dictionary issues an updated version with the addition of newly popular words and obsolete ones, though it’s unclear if any words are dropped each time. They must be otherwise the printed edition would be huge!
The English Oxford Living Dictionary even has word of the year. In 2017 it was “youthquake“, which I hadn’t heard of until now. Data shows that the use of “youthquake” had a fivefold increase in usage in 2017 compared to 2016. The EOLD also has a number of useful snippets of information and interesting blog posts.
Urban Dictionary is a popular choice for the young folk I associate with; probably because it’s pretty hardcore with the words it publishes and the examples it gives. It uses rude words and of course kids find this funny but hopefully they’re learning something too.
When I was in school and also during further education, I had little interest in words. I’ve always been able to spell well as I can “see” the words in my minds eye and can therefore spell them really accurately. And when a word just “looks” wrong it jumps off the page at me, so I don’t tend to use, or rely on spellcheckers or auto correcting software, which in my view is for the lazy anyway; how is this technology helping to teach folk?
But my interest in words and language has heightened since I started to write. And this can’t be a bad thing can it?
And in answer to my opening question? I have no idea. I’m sure Google can provide the answer.
Ten years ago I was in a bad place emotionally.
On the face of it I had it all; a thriving career, all the materialistic stuff I’d strived to achieve my whole life, a successful, supportive and beautiful wife and the opportunity to do whatever we both decided to do as we had no childcare responsibilities. The world was our lobster.
But I wasn’t happy. Yes I seemingly had it “all”, whatever that may mean, but I was sad. And I couldn’t put my finger on what was missing in my life; I didn’t know what depression was or how it felt. I just saw myself as a miserable git. I visited the doctor and he prescribed some tablets and “talking therapies”.
So I did what every self respecting middle managed man does. I had a breakdown, got divorced and checked myself into The Priory. Six weeks later I emerged, having undertaken CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy), a very different person. It would have been easier to do what many men having a midlife crisis do – get a tattoo and a Harley Davidson but I took the hard route. And I don’t like motorbikes and have a low pain threshold.
At the time everything seemed pretty pointless. “What’s the point” I used to say to myself. And then things slowly started to change. Whereas everything I used to touch or get involved in seemingly turned to shit, the reality was very different. CBT helps patients to deal with their negative thoughts and frame them into reality and context. Not everything I touched or did turned to shit. Some did; but not “everything”. And that was a wake up call for me.
Life is better now. I faced my demons and dealt with them.
Why am I telling you this? Writers need to experience life to write about it. There’s a book right there.
The word “community” is bandied around on a regular basis – usually in the news when there’s been a tragedy or when a council want to demonstrate the good it’s doing for the local area.
However I see little real sign of “communities”in the real world. And what does the term “community” actually mean anyway? According to Dictionary.com it means; “A social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.”
Yup – like a village.
I’ve lived in villages for 20+ years and aside from my immediate neighbours, I didn’t know the people who lived a mere stones throw away from me. There are many reasons for this and most are to do with our parochial laziness in getting to know each other and sharing time together.
And imagine the stories we could come up when interacting with those who live nearby?The tales would be amazing because as we all know, real life is far more interesting than pretend.
Storymatic is a clever, but simple idea, for writers and a good game to play when friends are over. But they will need an imaginative and creative mind to really exploit it.
Basically it’s a box of 540 cards with suggestions, prompts and scenarios on each one that the player then needs to make a story out of. It’s terrific fun and really prods your imagination to come up with narratives that you probably wouldn’t have explored beforehand.
If you’re stuck for ideas “Storymatic” can help overcome your writers block.
*I’m in no way affiliated with Storymatic or Brian Mooney.
To paraphrase Max Bygraves, let me tell you a story.
“You can if you want,” she said.
“I’m not sure if I want to,” I replied.
“What do I need to do to entice you?” she asked.
“Just be honest,” I replied. After a long pause she said “OK, 25 in total”.
“Wow, that’s a lot,” I retorted. “Not really,” she said, “I’m 45 years old. That’s less than one a year, because I started late when in my twenties”.
“Well yeah,” I responded “but that doesn’t take into account the times when you were in long-term relationships.”
“There’s only been a couple of those,” she said.
“Yeah, but they lasted a few years each. So that’s an average of 2 per year each year, that’s not right.”
“Stop getting so hung up on the detail and help me decide on a name for her.”
As writers we’ve never had it so good technology wise.
Ernest Hemingway knocked out his many works on a typewriter, one of which I purchased a couple of months ago; alas not Hemingway’s. I just love the aesthetic look of them and the familiar sound of each key being individually pressed and making contact with the paper. Whereas a computer is a boring looking piece of black plastic.
Today, we have ready access to computers, tablets, mobile phones and a plethora of writing software and blogs which means virtually anyone can call themselves a writer.
But how many of those “writers” would persevere if they had to use an old fashioned typewriter? I know I wouldn’t.
I remember the days of using a typewriter and then moving into the computing world and using “WordPerfect” before Microsoft dominated the word processing market with “Word” or “WordPress” even being a thing.
Writing on a typewriter is hard work and as I’m a terrible typist, my copy would be riddled with mistakes and then the tippex (Google it kids) would have to be liberally used.
It’s taken me ten minutes to write this post, including plenty of use of the back button to correct my many mistakes. If I tried to do something similar on my typewriter it would have taken me ten times as long and then I still wouldn’t be able to publish it online instantaneously.
So I take my (literal) hat off to Hemingway and his ilk for not only producing some great works but also his persistence in bashing away at the keys.
So if I use a typewriter to compose my prose does that somehow make me more of a proper “writter”?
When my work colleagues (yes I have another job other than writing, which helps to pay the bills, whereas writing doesn’t, yet) were sorting a night out, they used WhatsApp to arrange it. Apparently texting or talking is soooo yesterday.
They also use Snapchat for communicating with each other and I was told that they no longer use Facebook as it’s considered “old fashioned”. Yikes! A technology that’s only been around 13 years is already considered to be out of date by people in their late teens/early twenties. And ironically Facebook own WhatsApp after paying $19.3 billion for it three years ago.
I’ve used WhatsApp for a number of years, along with the other usual social media tools, Twitter and Facebook and, not that long ago, I actually worked in the intranet and social media industry. but a few years in that business is equivalent to decades in others.
The speed at which online technology evolves is rapid and the lifetime of these products appears to be shortening as the technologies plateau at an earlier stage than previously.
What will be the next thing be that replaces WhatsApp and Snapchat allowing people to communicate with each other?