What’s in a word?

I loathe Shakespeare, a feeling which I made quite evident in my blog post “Contention with the classics.”  But I cannot deny that whoever wrote those dratted plays of “his” contributed immensely to English vocabulary — and also to the endless, figurative list of memorable quotes.

“What’s in a name?” Juliet from “Romeo and Juliet” said centuries ago on a 16th century stage in Britain.  There’s a word for every thought, every idea, every emotion, every feeling — and we English speakers still run out of adjectives, nouns, and verbs to describe ourselves and what we want to say.

Let’s jump to the present.

Recently, I happened to acquire a very long, colorful scarf with intentionally frayed, cut ends.  Together, they swish with the wind, and they also tickle my nose if the ends happen to line up with my nose when carefully arranged around my neck like an informal tie.

Inspiration and ideas can come at the strangest and most unexpected moments.  Plutarch teasingly mentioned in his Lives that the Greek scientist Archimedes discovered a solution to a problem and coined the phrase “Eureka!” while taking a bath.  And I invented a new word when my newfound scarf and its playful tendencies got the best of my temper.

A new entry for the modern English dictionary:

TWIGGLE: What happens when I twirl, shake, and/or wave the tangled, cut, frayed ends of my long scarf like a fabric fan.  The gesture can resemble a friendly wave, a mischievous tickle, an unintentional result of venting frustration, or an elegant flag of salute.  [Nota bene: The word “twiggle” does not exist.  It does now, because I introduced it, and it came, ultimately, from the very much existent word “wiggle.”  Perhaps “twiggle” is a variant of the word “wiggle,” but in many ways, it is not.  It is my word, and it all came to be because of my imagination and penchant for refreshing the English language.]

Yes, admit it: the English language is worn out and worn down by excessive misuse and a low knowledge of more extensive vocabulary.  And also due to the fact that people have missed much vocabulary by ignoring English’s mater, the language of the ancient Romans known as Latin.  Latin (and Ancient Greek) are the keys to English, though most people I know disregard both or simply have never heard of either.  Very sad and very true.

But what really is in a word like “twiggle,” hmm?  A passing emotion, a coined phrase, a fleeting thought?  The moment I found “twiggle” and heard an echo of Archimedes’s “Eureka!” — this was personal and relevant to me, though it may not ever be to anyone else.  But that is how words were and continue to be formed — someone needs to express something and they look for a new way to do it in order to communicate with someone else.  One way is through a new word.

And with that being said, I hope that someday, “twiggle” will be be included as a word in the modern English dictionary — of course, with my name mentioned as its creator in the explanation about its derivative and how it came to be.

Always remember: the word “twiggle” came to be because of me…and one very colorful, eccentric scarf with an attitude.

Natalie Gorna

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