For quite a while now, I’ve wanted to be an author when I grow up. I love studying the English language so much so that I have a hundred yellow sticky post-it notes stuck on my wall with various words on them. One of the words on my wall is ‘logolepsy’, meaning an obsession with words. I think it is a perfectly adequate description of me. Once, my family and I have been having a conversation during a hike, and when we see a puddle I will suddenly say ‘hoppipolla’ and then have to explain to my family that hoppipolla means to jump into puddles.
The most fascinating thing about words for me is the fact that there are so many things in this world. How can we describe everything? How can we limit an object, or feeling to just one word? How many words are there in any single language? Because there are thousands, millions, of possible feelings, actions, things in the universe. How is it possible?
Sometimes I have a feeling that I can’t quite describe, or there is an action that takes many words-even a whole sentence- to describe. The beauty of language, in my opinion, lies in the words and the stories they tell. In English, we have a limited number of words that only contain limited meanings. However there are millions and millions of words in other languages that have so many obscure meanings.
I discovered this website called the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows which, to be honest, blew my tiny grade six mind. I was fascinated by the sheer numbers of words, and quite often while scrolling through, I found a word that perfectly captured a feeling. I had no idea it even was a feeling but the word just seemed right.
I love certain words because of the way they sound. I love the word susurrus (meaning whispering or rustling), because it’s smooth, I love the word monachopsis (meaning the persistent feeling of being out of place) because it’s satisfyingly fun to say. I also love the word kenopsia (meaningthe eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet). These words are so oddly specific – but capture feelings that we can’t quite describe any other way. Isn’t language beautiful? We are able to formulate sounds that we string together, and recognize these sounds when coming from other humans. These sounds can wound or heal, connect two people, or tear them apart. That’s the power of words.