What is in a Word?

Wolf Words

When we are young, we think of words as part of the object that they point to. We think of the word dog, as a dog. In learning a foreign language, the first thing that is confusing is the fact that a dog is no longer the word dog. Vocabulary is intimidating for most people. Even the English speakers, who have to learn several words for a dog, do not find it very useful or helpful to learn all the vocabulary they can. They may know many dog breeds, many kinds of cars, many forms of rain, many shades of hair color, but to know fifty synonyms for the word "discuss" is not useful to memorize. Eggheads are known for have a large, generalized vocabulary, or a jargon vocabulary of some field that is unpopular. We can hardly discuss a field without learning the jargon for it. Some fields like botany or anatomy take ages to learn the vocabulary, for most of it is in Latin or Greek. However, sports jargon is almost as complex. Often jargon bleeds over into the general mainstream vocabulary so that phrases like first base and bottom line and muck about take on other meanings. A word is not only a group of sounds, but it is part of a rule structure, and also part of a shorthand pointing to an actual object, idea or feeling. And, in time, a word has its own properties, historical, connotations, allusions, and forms.

In this article, I'm going to play and show you some of the ways in which English is influenced by other languages.


More to come!

© 2018, A.R. Stone

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