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This Great Hodge-Podge of a Language

I subscribe to many (too many) services on the internet, but one of them for which I am currently most grateful is Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day. I have a minor collection of dictionaries (in this I am old-school for sure and will not deny that) which sit on shelves in my office holding more English words than I will probably ever use, but who knows? One day, like this morning, I may need a word to name the heavens, the firmament, the vault of the sky where I find myself turning my gaze more and more often these days. That word popped up in my daily email from Merriam-W today: welkin. You poets out there may be friends with this word, but though it is not completely new to me, it is quite awkward in my mouth. This great hodge-podge of a language that is English is full of words that don’t sound or have the mouth feel of what they mean, and I find that wonderful, really. If we are curious, we can keep learning new ways to say things even in the language we may have been using since we began to talk. I suspect those who come to English from another first language may find this frustrating, but knowing that there are many ways to say the same thing can be reassuring. Learning something new, even if it’s just one word, will open a door and behind that door are more wonders, more new things to learn. Opening that door can be the beginning of a journey that will change your understanding of the world. This morning as I take a deep full breath and I turn my eyes to the welkin, I am thankful for air and the ability to inhale it freely and for the wild and wonderful English language.


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© 2020 by Deborah Nedelman