Category Archives: language

Daily Prompt: Dictionary, Schmictionary

Time to confess: tell us about a time when you used a word whose meaning you didn’t actually know (or were very wrong about, in retrospect).

When I was in my college years, the word I didn’t know was penultimate. I thought it meant beyond ultimate, as if. I got called on it at dinner one night, and brashly asserted my position. I was disabused of my belief by, of all things, a physics major. The Lit people at the table ignored me because I was, at the time, a mathematician. They knew we were wayward in our use of words, and accepted it as part of the humor of college life. The physics major knew it because he had used it in a physics paper and was told to leave the Lit words out of science.

My current favorite words are evanescent and preternatural. They both state in one word things that the Thesauri do not get in their synonyms. And the dictionaries use many words to explain them. So people should look them up and use them. You will be doing a service for those who want to know big words but don’t know where to start!


Whenever I am asked what my favorite creature is in fantasy, I say dragons. I have no idea why this is true. I generally do not like lizards or scaly things, and the idea of a scaly, lizardy creature the size of a dinosaur flying down on me is frankly terrifying. But many fantasies I have read have had dragons who were wise, intelligent, kind and inspiring. We have the Pern books, where dragons, full-sized, were grown up from little flying lizards. This was one of the first series I read when I became involved with fantasy, decades ago.

The dragons in my WIP are sentient and powerful. They scare the sorcerers who banished them ten thousand years before. But the question is whether the dragons could have changed in ten thousand years. Think about that for a moment. Can you think of anything other than the geographical history of this earth that has remained consistent for ten thousand years? Perhaps the moon? So I have resolved some interesting things in this section of the book. My heroine likes the dragons, but can she win this debate?

I’m not going to tell you what happens, but I will tell you that my favorite dragon in the story is named Conradio. How would you pronounce that? I have a friend who is convinced it’s like  Con Radio. I have another who thinks it’s Conrad-io. I will give you a hint. I was a public defender for many years and I hated my clients being called “cons,” a shortening of the word “convict.” That word is full of negative connotations. I should also point out that, to date, the king of the dragons does not have a name. Should he have a name, or is it a reasonable tradition to have the king nameless? To have him known only as the King, the ruler, where the title outweighs the name?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on dragons. It might allow me to clarify my own view of the beasties!

…you likee soupee?… #TBSU…

It is a wonderful thing, language. Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to hear stories like this, even if they are very funny?

Seumas Gallacher

…having lived in the Far East and Middle East for the last 35 years, it never ceases to amaze me when I hear expatriates attempting to converse in English with people whose native tongue may not be the same as their own… the garbled ‘language’ they utilise when they talk to folks of other nationalities is painful to the ear… a sort of mix between pidgin English and a slowing down of the speech delivery, almost like the slowing down of the old vinyl records from one speed to another, with excruciating long drawn out vowels and all the rest of it… harks me back to a story I heard when I first arrived in Hong Kong in the late nineteen-seventies… at that time, the colony was still under British rule and administration… a thriving Hong Kong Chinese/British Association was an active business body, with members of some of the…

View original post 415 more words