love hate words

Under this inspirational and completely misleading title I would like to present today: Links I found over the few last days for language nerds, writers & lovers of words (English language centered).

Let us get started with something funny: is one of my favourite comedy sites, it can be stupid but also brilliant – as humour should be. The link I would like to share leads to a very subjective list of 6 Words That Need to Be Banned from the English Language – because they make the author feel uncomfortable. As an ardent lover of words I would rather not ban a word but invent one. But! I admit there a words in my language making me cringe: e.g. “Glibber” (guck, slime) – the word arranges itself to a rather disgusting sound in my head not only due to its meaning. There are more… but I would like to hear some from my readers! Out of languages I know and do not know – please feel free to share them!

On a rather unpleasant but important sidenote: My own mother tongue German has a few forbidden words, unpleasant because of the horrible history Germany has. Language got misused and violated to justify dreadful crimes.

The next links I am going to share is the exact opposite: From plitter to drabbletail: the words we love answers to a questionnaire from The Guardian about writers favourite words and a commentary to this from The New Yorker: Writers Choose Their Favourite Words
So: What is your favourite word? I have to say it is rather difficult for me to choose one. I really love the German languages ability to build new words, to make them up, combine and re-shuffle them. But my favourite words are more hidden things, words with a story: “Hühnergott” – a flintstone with a natural hole in it. Not only does its meaning – the chickens god – contains a little story in itself, it is also a regional word: known only in East-Northern Germany. I already had to explain it quite a few times. Another word I love is the name of a tiny blue flower: “Gewitterblume” – thunderstorm flower. There is a saying that if one breaks it, it will call for a thunderstorm. I grew up with this believe – and sometimes tried it out… I do not remember the outcome though. Franz Fühmann wrote a short story about this.

Let us look into Grammar now: Commas – do we love or do we hate them? Honestly they confuse me. The fact that German changed the rules how & when they are used or not, does not make it easier. I am lost when it comes to English comma rules. But as it turns out I am not the only one: So TED (another favourite of mine) assembled videos about it and combined them with tw others about Grammar and wording: Be a better writer in 15 minutes: 4 TED-Ed lessons on grammar and word choice.

Another wonderful tool for writers: The elements of Style by Strunk & White. It is rather analog though: a book.

And now at the end two videos – again from TED:

Anne Curzan about What makes a word “real” – slang as a tool to fill meaning gaps in the English language. Which is a fascinating idea and in my opinion an overlooked way of how language evolves in general!

And last but not least the ever wonderful Erin McKean about The Joy of Lexicography. The print dictionary in times of change.


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