As far back as I can remember, I have had a penchant for words, especially the written word. Whether that love was instilled in me by a father who had such an affinity for language and books, or it was inherited from him, I believe he deserves the credit. I’m sure my brother, who shares that love, would agree.
Word games have always been my favourite. Give me a competitive game of scrabble any day over other board games. I delight in solving a difficult crossword puzzle, anagram, cryptogram, or jumble. And if playing Jeopardy, what is my favourite category? You guessed it: Word Origins.
When I think of word origins, I fondly recall one particular book, recommended and owned by our dear father. Our Marvelous Native Tongue – The Life and Times of the English Language by Robert Claiborne, is probably the best book ever written about the origins of our language. Thorough in its examination and encompassing the first intonations of our caveman ancestors to the many dialects of today, I found it hard to put down, even on a second reading. Particularly notable are the many words we ‘borrowed’, and then kept from other languages, making English a true amalgam, and the rich, colourful and ever-evolving tapestry of words and speech we know today.
“To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the music the words make.” – Truman Capote