Isn't there a song that says 'read a book?'


They’re called classics for a reason. Some of the books students have been forced to read in school are wonderful when removed from the onus of assignments and essays. There was this one old book that described, on the first page, a pompous man with a huge hairpiece entering a brightly lit ballroom full of people… and two boys up in the rafters with hook and line. Using formal language to tell a story of kids going wig-fishing at a party? That’s funny right there. (And if you know the title of the book I’m talking about, reader, please, please tell me. I really miss that story.) Also - it’s helpful to develop a love of dictionaries. (Gigglesnort. That almost sounded naughty.) Weird story… I slapped my keyboard while a dictionary program was running, and the slap entered a few letters into its search bar. I got curious to see what would come up in a search using a random entry. First word that came up was syzygy, which is the instance of three celestial bodies in alignment. So if you have an eclipse, with the sun, the moon, and the Earth in one line, that’s syzygy. (Cue twinkly rainbow PSA.) Point is, an unfamiliar word (like finagle, which is so much fun to say) is a great reason to find a dictionary. I was surprised to find other logophiles (yes, Mr. Portokalos, the root of that word is Greek) expressing their love of words online: from the violence of defenestration to the feels-clog-my-throat of alexithymia. Every time I run into words like that, it’s a pleasant surprise - like, whoa, there’s actually a word for it that I don’t have to invent? Some of them are tiny stories within themselves, which I think is the reason I find dictionaries entertaining. All of this is meant for the English language, but I don’t see why it couldn’t apply to learning new words in other languages as well. For those, how about starting with fairytales, or lyrics to love songs, or a lexicon of swear words? Anything that might have an audio example in recorded form - whether in books on CD (because tapes are archaic) or videos posted online. But I’m getting ahead of myself… that’s the next post.

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