Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What's the Word?; or Word to Your Mother (thanks, Heather of the EO)

I've mentioned more than once about Aaron's lack of urgency in the language development department (and previously in the starting to walk, and stopping nursing departments, and currently in the feeding himself, and liking potatoes and fruits and vegetables in general department)  I don't think I have mentioned how at his age (21 months) Evie was speaking in complete (and darling) sentences, so he's not taking after her.

Now, I have no idea how I fared at language development as a tiny girl, but I think Aaron might get his vocabulary problems from me.  Me as I am now.  

I don't think I have a teeny tiny vocabulary.  I know lots of words.   My mother has a great vocabulary (she's a real smarty) and I usually know the definitions of the words she uses.  I rarely read words I don't know (maybe this is more a reflection of the kinds of books I read).  I score okay on Reader's Digest Word Power tests (could be better, though).

I am able to formulate sentences.  Complete ones, even.  I don't think "Complete ones, even." is a complete sentence, but I didn't say I always DO form them that way. I know how to misuse scores of legitimate words and I know how to correctly utilize a plethora of words that don't exist. For example, I use the word "ones" all the time, and my dictionary informs me that the lone definition of that word is "Once".  Please, those of you with a better vocabulary than mine, be advised that I NEVER mean "once" when I say "ones".*  

Normally I don't give a care (:P) about such things.  We are all aware that I do what I want around here.  I ignore spell checker for the most part since I wrote  that post about how rude it is.  So I am definitely no sort of word snob, and probably couldn't be if I tried, but I would really appreciate it if I could at least use the words I know.

In everyday writing this isn't too much of a problem.  It's when I'm writing something other than just what I'm thinking that it gets annoying.  I rarely struggle with it on my blog because I'm not out to paint a perfect picture, or win a literary prize; but once I get writing something that stretches me a little, I draw blanks.  Really. Even fairly basic adjectives elude me.  I feel as though I'm struggling with a math problem that I remember learning how to solve, but I am utterly helpless to make it appear again in my brain.  Sometimes it's, "Oh!  I know there's a perfect word for this!" and sometimes it's, "I have no idea on Earth how to say that very basic thing."

There's a new game going on over at Bloggers Annex (isn't that supposed to have an apostrophe, and if not, why not?  Please someone enlighten me!!) wherein you create a story idea, a few characters and a conflict.  Then your ideas are switched with someone else's and you write their story and they write yours.  This is a really fun idea, but when you're dealing with people who are talented (and in some cases published!) writers it's a little intimidating.  Then if you have a dysfunctional vocabulary in exactly those kinds of writing situations, it's even worse.  So I haven't signed up (also partly because I haven't written a story since grade school almost, and I don't really know how to come up with the makings for one for someone else to use).

I realize that to retain vocabulary you have to use the words.  I suppose that's my problem, but I'm not really sure how to solve it.  

But I'm open for ideas.

* I mentioned this thing about "ones" to Greg and he jumped right on it, "The dictionary doesn't list plural words, silly!"  OH, duh.   I'm leaving this in my post anyway because I love scattering evidence of my brainlessness here and there for all y'all. (My wariness of the word ones comes from someone I knew who insisted there was no such word, or it was improper.  I'm so glad that person was wrong!  I NEED that word.)

20 comments:

Alison Wonderland said...

Um. Well. Ahh. Sorry I can't help you.

PS ones is a perfectly legitimate word. Whoever told you differently was wrong.

Nathan said...

As I recall, the problem with "ones" is that it is often redundant, and therefore stylistically less effective.

Ex.: If you say "those ones" or "these ones," you could generally get by with "those" or "these." Of course, this is how we actually speak, and so it makes perfect sense to use "ones."

Kaylynn said...

I worry about my 18 month old and her language because sometimes she is silent for days, then she'll pop out a bunch of words. It's crazy. I kind of have that same problem with words, sometimes they come to me, and other times they are hidden in my brain completely unreachable.

Melissa said...

First of all, I, too, think there should be an apostrophe in Bloggers Annex. And since I'm an administrator, you'd think I could do something about that. I will take it up with the head honcho immediately! Especially since she is a copy editor and would be mortified if she knew how egregiously she was offending the rest of us with her lack of apostrophes. Secondly, I'm really sorry to do this to you, but the word you really meant to write was "elude," not "allude." Since we're talking about words and all....

Melissa Bastow said...

I don't know if Aaron's speech problems can be from you not using words, because I am constantly spouting non-words and gibberish to Monkey and he never picks up on those! I mean, those ones...

Annette Lyon said...

There's no need for an apostrophe. You *could* have one, but there are multiple meanings, so you don't really need it, unless you're going for possessive.

Plain old "Bloggers Annex" uses "bloggers" as an adjective--so it's an annex where you'll find bloggers. No possession. Same thing when you see "writers conference." That can be correct too.

And of course I answered, because I'm obsessive like that. :D

Becky said...

I love words! And I love how you use words, even thought you may not think you use them well. These ones you just wrote are fabulous!

Sue Q said...

Okay, let's get out the Scrabble board, girls... or Boggle, or Word Yahtzee, or even a good, old fashioned, New York Times Crossword Puzzle!

I love words. I use them every day. I take them very seriously. And if I can't put my finger on just the right word when I need it, I'll make one up. Because I live in America, and we have the freedom of speech. And advertising companies do it all the time, so why can't we?

Kazzy said...

Two of my kids were quicker out of the blocks than the other "ones" (lol). I think kids talk when they are ready to, and an attentive mom is the best medicine for catching on to a potential developmental delay. You see right on top of things!

And isn't it so frustrating when you know what you want to say in your mind, but struggle to deliver it? The hands start flailing, the eyebrows crinkle up, and then usually someone eslse fills the word in for you. Team work!

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

My son Grant didn't say anything but "uh!" until his 2nd birthday. When he blew out his candle, his tongue was loosed and he counted to ten. We stood there in shock and asked each other who taught him that. It was like the floodgates of conversation were opened after that. It will come...

And in my past life I was known as the "red-pencil nazi." My friends would line up for me to proofread their papers and watch the blood-letting begin. But now that I'm blogging, I've become much more grammar and spelling lenient. I even use sentence fragments. And make up words. And I like it. It's liberating, and makes my writing sound like my talking. And whatever you're doing works too. Because we all come read it. And we like it.

Heather said...

Back in November when I was blogging every day and reading lots of blogs, I would come across words or phrases that I liked and then gave myself the challenge of working that word into my next blog post, it even gave me ideas of what to write about. Have you ever noticed how often Heidi A. uses the word camphor? I still can't work that into anything. You could like make a list of your favorite words and then use them as you are writing your story.

I have to make a comment about you not writing a story since grade school, HELLO!!! you write great stories almost every day! They are just from your real life.

gramalee said...

Hi Lu! On the subject of vocabulary, have your read "Ex Libris" yet? If not, try starting with the chapter "True Womanhood" -- my favorite. :) xo

Kimberly said...

I have no input. Just grins and giggles of excitement over getting to catch up on your blog today. I missed lots'o'fabulousness!

McEwens said...

Sorry, I can not help. Funny story about spelling though, back in the day when we used to write letters, my sister would send someones letter BACK to them with the spelling corrected. And she wondered why her pen pals never lasted long

Rebecca said...

I think I'm coming to rely on Annette for all things grammatical. I always look for her answer!

The contest at Bloggers Annex looks fun, but I too am intimidated by it. Not to mention that I'm trying to write my own stuff and don't know if I have any creativity left!

Heather of the EO said...

Oh my hilariousness.

Word to your mother.

I'm a total grammar goof, as you may have noticed.

Blogger's Annex. Let's just call it that and be done, right?

Asher still only says about six to ten words. Miles was a vocab rock star, speaking full sentences at a very young age. Asher pretty much just grunts. :)

I draw blanks so often when it comes to vocab, I don't even know how to describe it.

Love this post.

Heidi Ashworth said...

You are so adorable. Yesterday, as I wrote chapter one of my new book titled, NEW BOOK, I had the same problem. I just KNEW there was a certain word I wanted, the perfect word (actually, this happened a number of times during the course of the day) so I used google to find synonyms to the unsatisfactory word I WAS able to think of. That's how "notions" became "convictions" which is the word I really wanted but couldn't think of. (If this is the same as using the spell checker for you, then I'm sorry, that's all I've got! But, just know, you are not alone in this particular brain fade problem!)

evitafjord said...

Blogger's Annex only if it belongs to one blogger. Bloggers' Annex if it belongs to more than one blogger. But if it is just a place you find bloggers, no apostrophe.

Google Reader recommended your blog based on other blogs I already subscribe to, wasn't that helpful?

Marivic_Little GrumpyAngel said...

I like the way you write just fine. I like your selection of words just fine. I like conversational writing. It's more intimate and personal and shows your personality. When I read your blog it feels like I'm talking to a "real" person as a friend, eating popcorn and M&Ms, not some wanna be writer. It feels nice.

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