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Life: Just a Word Game?

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B-I-L-H-A-R-Z-I-A

Noun.  A chronic disease, endemic in parts of Africa and South America, caused by infestation with blood flukes (schistosomes).*

I was in the kitchen last week having a rather banal conversation. (You’re hooked already, no?) There were some laughs and maybe a few insightful remarks, I’m sure, but nothing to write home about. The subject was of such a high importance that I have completely forgotten it. For all I know we could have been discussing the reason why kitchen foil has one shiny and one dull side (although, I actually find this quite interesting and if you want to know you’ll just have to ask me. Or google it.)

So we were deep in mind-blowing philosophising and I got stuck mid sentence. I couldn’t find the word. It was a totally simple, everyday, uncomplicated word but it got stuck somewhere in my brain.

Now this has been happening more and more lately, and I’m not sure if it’s because I’m living in France and the français is pushing out the anglais. I used to be an expert- a master even- of one language and now I am mediocre with three (sí, sí, hablo español también.) But it could also just be the inevitable decline in my cognitive abilities as my brain becomes old and weary.

Crossword Puzzle

I finally managed to convey my meaning using a mixture of my Charades, Taboo and Articulate skills but I was left with the same feeling I have when I’m trying to explain to someone else one of those complicated thoughts (yes, I do have them quite often!) They feel so true and perfectly formed inside your head until you have to try and find the right words to say it out loud. I think, “Is life just one big word game?”

We have become experts nowadays in digital messaging. Even sending a text is a complicated matter. For example you must decline an invite like so;

“Sorry love, I think I’m prob gonna stay in tonight and maybe catch up on some chores. I’m a bit tired so not feeling like a big one… I’m so old lol😉 xxx ”

so as not to imply any malice;

“No thanks, have fun though.”

What? No exclamation marks or emoticons? Have I done something wrong?

When reading a comment on your tweet you have to be careful not to interpret the humorous sarcasm as a snide remark. All the while we read less, our vocabulary is losing its range and nuance, and our thumbs are becoming more eloquent than our tongues. Well mine, at least.

In order to combat this, I have decided that I will archive all the new words I learn, just like the spelling activities I had to do at school (learn the word, put it in a sentence, spell it front-ways and back-ways and upside-down-ways.) There will probably be some words of which my ignorance is embarrassing but I am putting my language shame aside in the fight to be more clever.

* Learned whilst reading Barbara Kingsolver’s short story, Jump-Up Day. Part of a collection of short stories called Homeland.

One response »

  1. Pingback: Think of a word beginning with G… | spell it out loud

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