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Hear Much?

Over the past few months I’ve few posted about words I love, words I don’t, and slang terms I wish would go away. Thinking about language in this way made me realize there are words I rarely see that I wish I would see used more. All of these words I like because not only are they unusual, they just look striking and sound interesting when said aloud. They also make one sound smarter without coming across as pretentious.

Copse: This word means a group of trees like in a forest or grove. I first remember seeing this used in one of the Harry Potter books. I’m sure I’d seen it before, but for some reason when I saw it in that Harry Potter book it stuck with me. Oddly enough, after I looked it up I noticed it in other books and it’s a word I’ve used in my own work.

Suss: Suss is a British slang term meaning to investigate or figure something out and has only been around since the mid-1960s. Honestly, I thought this was a much older word since it just, well, sounds like a much older word. In my head I can hear a character living in a time long before the 1960s using it as he or she is working to solve a crime.

Succulent: This one is admittedly a bit tricky. Succulent is a word which is used a lot when describing plants, but I don’t recall seeing it used in other ways. It has other definitions such as something which has desirable qualities or something which offers mental nourishment. So, beyond its botanical usage, succulent is a word which I think should be get applied more to other things.

Bilious: Depending upon its context, bilious can either be a rather gross or interesting word. As might be apparent in looking at it, bilious does have the word bile as a root. And yes, it does have a couple of definitions related to bile. However, it also has a couple of non-medical related definitions as an adjective for someone who is disagreeable or peevish or describing something as unpleasant.

Melancholy: Since I enjoy reading historical fiction set during Victorian times, I do see this word. It means a state of profound sadness and in my reading, it is used euphemistically as a way of saying a person suffers from what nowadays would be considered depression. I think it’s a great word to use in modern or futuristic fiction. There’s a certain elegance to it.

Malaise: Another old-fashion word I see in older works or stories set in days of yore. Whenever you want to get across a state of feeling not normal physically but also knowing you aren’t sick, malaise is a great word. I have noticed malaise and melancholy used interchangeably. Though they have different definitions, I think it’s because they describe a feeling some of us have had so well.

 

I think whenever a person sees or hears these words, it causes the mind to pause and think. It makes you pay more attention. These words are beautiful because of that power. As a writer, I want to incorporate all these words into my writing not because I think it makes me sound smarter, but because they are special. I wonder if other writers experience this whenever they come across unusual words when they read? I would imagine so as how else does language survive?

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Front Page, Musings

Weekly Musing: Whack Slang

Language is ever changing. New words form while others fade away into obscurity. Definitions also change over time and are dependent on context. All of us have different language we use at work vs. how we talk to family and friends. With constant change in language it’s difficult at times to keep up and that’s before slang is thrown into the mix.

Slang is defined as very informal usage of vocabulary and idioms that are more metaphorical, playful, and ephemeral than ordinary language. It also means jargon used by a class or profession.

Every one of us uses slang daily even if we don’t realize it. Some terms have been around so long many of us forget they are slang terms. For example, we say something costs a buck which means we are saying something costs one dollar rather than a male deer. Or we refer to someone as a couch potato rather than saying someone spent all day on the couch watching TV or playing video games.

While there are many slang terms I use, or think are clever, below are a few of the words I wish would just disappear.

Cray cray – Somehow this replaces crazy. Not sure how repeating the same word twice replaces one word. It’s not even saving syllables as crazy is two and cray cray is also two syllables. It also sounds utterly juvenile. Any grown up who uses it, and not in a sarcastic, funny way, I automatically cannot take seriously.

cray-cray

 Lit – I’ll admit this one confuses me depending upon its usage. I get when people say a party was lit to mean the party was awesome. Confusion sets in when it’s used to describe a person. Context isn’t helpful. Are they saying the person is awesome? Or are they saying the person was intoxicated? Urbandictionary.com has a couple of entries claiming saying something or someone is lit dates back to the early days of jazz and refers to a state where a person is just drunk enough to be relaxed enough to play their instrument well. Etymonline.com also seems to back up the definition of lit as referring to a state of intoxication.

itslit

Spill the tea – This one is relatively new to me as I only started hearing it the past year and I think it’s a really stupid one. Spill the tea apparently means to gossip. I have no idea what spilling tea has to do with gossiping unless it’s a reference to a group of women gathered together to talk over tea? Considering it means to gossip then I suppose this makes sense. Still a silly phrase.

spill the tea

 Clapback – Initially, I thought the term clapback had something to do with STDs as the word clap is a slang term for gonorrhea. Apparently, this has nothing to do with the transmission of STDs. Clapback means to insult someone who first insulted you. Or as it more commonly known as a comeback. How did we get from comeback to clapback I have no idea. Again, it’s not anymore efficient to say clapback over comeback.

 clapback

Throwing shade – This is another word I’m a bit confused as to its proper usage. I’ve heard it used to describe someone insulting another person without using their name. I’ve also heard it used to describe a person with a bad attitude. Either way it makes no sense. I have no idea what the verb throw and the noun shade have to do with insulting someone or walking around with an attitude. Even when I think about it in a metaphorical sense I just can’t see how throwing shade became a slang term.

 throwing shade

Bish – Bish is the shortened version of bitch because that one extra letter is too much? Because the tc sound needed to be changed to a s sound? I don’t know and hadn’t heard it until last year when Katy Perry used it in a song. As much as I’d like to blame her this word has been around for over a decade according to urbandictionary.com. The website claims bish is the nicer, work place friendly version of bitch. Um, huh? If you don’t want to cuss, then don’t, but don’t walk around saying stuff like bish. Makes you sound like a cray cray child.

 bish

On fleek – Again, I find myself trying to figure out how a slang term that means “on point” is any different from just saying on point. What does fleek itself even mean? As far as I could find, no one knows.

 dogs_on_fleek_gray

Totes – Much like cray cray, totes is used to shorten totally. Because totally is such a difficult word to say. Totes idiotic.

 totes

Bae – Oh god, another word which shortened an already short word for reasons? Heaven forbid people say babe or baby when referring to their significant other. Another definition I saw was it makes it an acronym for “before anyone else”. If people are using it as an acronym then it makes their sentence even more non-sensical.

bae-bacon-eggs-women-s-t-shirts-women-s-t-shirt

 

I know there is other slang I don’t like but some are just so common I can’t remember them all. Let’s see if we can put all these together in a sentence, shall we? My bae was on fleek throwing shade on some lit, cray cray bish spilling tea on how she totes clapbacked when we know she didn’t. There. One of the dumbest sentences I’ve ever intentionally written. Please, if you’re going to use slang, and you will because you are human, use it responsibly.

Front Page, Musings

Weekly Musing: 2018 Goals

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Happy New Year, everyone! We’ve entered the time of year when everyone sits down to write out resolutions. While I dislike the term resolution, I prefer goal, I am not immune to the desire to reflect upon who I am currently and who I want to be as I go forward. As I ponder what kind of person I’d like to be, I have also been reflecting upon what kind of writer I’d like to be. A theme which emerged both in my personal and professional goals is a desire to heal myself and be kinder to myself. It is my hope that as I become more comfortable with myself I will become more comfortable as a writer.

Once again, I feel my goals are rather modest and achievable. I’m sure like last year’s goals priorities could change.

Finish rough draft of current manuscript and do at least one rewrite: I am hopeful I can finish a rough draft of my WIP either by the end of this month or early February. It’s been a struggle to get the words down. It always is and more so when my research wasn’t complete before I started the rough draft. But, that was a conscious decision because I wanted to focus more on the story rather than the historical background. Before I can tackle a rewrite, though, I will need to do more research. I’ve been writing notes to myself about specific things I’ll need to look up. Again, this is all in an effort to not overdo the research and torpedo myself in irrelevant details.

Rethinking my blog: In addition to changing the visual look of my blog, which I hope you are enjoying, I am looking to cut back on the number of blog posts. I started doing this about midway through last year and found it was something which freed up my time to concentrate more on novel writing. It can be taxing to come up with an idea for each week and while I do have a list of possible blog topics, some topics require research. I also want the flexibility to post when I have the time and inclination. At a minimum I think I’ll have at least 2 posts each month and they’ll still come out on Saturdays.

I am also officially eliminating my monthly book review. I don’t know how value added it was.

Another thing I’m hoping to do is experiment more with adding in pictures, probably a combination of stock photos and my own, that have some kind of connection with content.

New writers group: Very recently I discovered there is finally a writers group which meets at my local library. Before I used to attend a group located in the city I live next to which at times was a bit of a drive.

I haven’t attended any meetings yet as all December meetings were cancelled due to the holiday. I am interested to see how it goes. The biggest factor to me for how comfortable I am in a group is the combination of people. Is there a variety of skill level or is everyone about equal? What are the personality types? Do people give constructive feedback? Will the group prove to be useful for my development?

Letting myself go on the page: This goes back to my overall desire to be more comfortable with myself. I don’t want to be afraid anymore of having characters go to dark places or light places. I don’t want to worry about if what I’m writing fits a trend or will make people 100% comfortable and unoffended. Writing is an expression of thoughts and feelings. Honestly, I feel like when I was writing more for myself and writing something I wanted to personally read, the muse was present, and the writing was more relaxed. I’d like to get back to that.

Having an organized book reading list: This one is also a personal goal. In addition to having a target number of books I’d like to read, I decided to look at my bookshelves and pick out books I’ve had for years, but have never read. I also wrote down a few books I’ve being wanting to read, but keep forgetting to pick up.

Below is the list of books I absolutely want to read in 2018. I tried to give myself a mixture of classics in addition to genre books.

The Works of Oscar Wilde

1984 by George Orwell (this is a re-read)

The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (this is a re-read)

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

The Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dicks

House of Cards by Michael Dobson

City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett

Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

The Tchaikovsky Finale by Darin Kennedy

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Winter World by Ken Follett

Column of Fire by Ken Follett

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

Artemis by Andy Weir

The Iron King by Maurice Druon

The Works of H.P. Lovecraft

 

It’ll be interesting to see how many of these goals I’ll accomplish. Like everyone else who makes a list, I’m hopeful I can meet them. Good luck to every writer out there in achieving your goals this year!