Friday, August 8, 2008

Word Play

I've been feeling rather quiet the past little while. Not a whole lot to say as I drift through these lazy days of summer, and I'm trying to listen to my own rhythms. But despite my lack of things to say, I have noticed that since I started blogging I have developed quite an interest in words.

I was walking up the mountain the other day when out of nowhere, I had an intense craving for cupcakes. A cupcake. A white one with white icing, and maybe a little flower on top of it. Rarely do I give in to these cravings because if I made them myself, I would not just have one, but one dozen, and all I really want is one. We need a good cupcake store in this town.
Anyway, as I was thinking of this little cupcake that I so desired, a thought occurred to me....why are the words *icing* and *frosting* used to describe something you top a cake with, when they are related to snow and ice? Unless it is a frozen cake, it is neither icy nor frosty.

The word *understand* is another one that puzzles me. If you stand under something, can you get a better sense of it? Is that why we say we understand something? Personally, I think if I stood under something, I wouldn't see very much. I might get a slightly different perspective, but still...the bottoms of things are not all that revealing.

I have many favourite words. I'm not attached to their meaning, so much as the sounds of the words themselves. For instance, I love the word *helicopter*. I have no real interest in's just a cute word, and it's fun to say. Helicopter.
And *orange crush*. Just say it out loud to yourself right now. Isn't it great? It makes me thirsty... not for Orange Crush, but for something more satisfying and thirst quenching. Speaking of that, I always used to say "I need to thirst my quench" by accident when I was little..the words sounded better in that order to me. I still have to stop and think before I say that phrase to make sure I put it in the right order.

I don't speak any other languages fluently (yet), but I have discovered some wonderful sounding words. Julie once wrote a post on language, and she mentioned some interesting danish words. One of them made me laugh....the danish word for marshmallows is *skumfiduser* I LOVE that word!! I wish I could use it functionally in a sentence...I will have to find a way.
My friend's grandfather used to call her his *kukla mou*. It's greek for little doll. So sweet.
And I have fallen in love with a new french word. * Coquelicot* (pronounced as koklieco) is french for poppy. A beautiful word for such a beautiful flower...I have lovingly embraced it for many secret reasons.

There are so many wondrous words. I might have to post about this more often as new words come to me. All of you positively *pulchritudinous* poets and writers who visit you have any favourite words or phrases?
My thesaurus doesn't seem to uncover many of the most beautiful gems. Maybe it's because often, words sound best when they are carefully strung together to form their own unique melody..their own music. A daisy chain of beautiful sounds that gently roll off the tongue and linger in our hearts.

What's another word for thesaurus?
~Steven Wright


  1. I could not stop smiling as I read this. From the moment you wanted a cupcake right up to end. Not because I have so many favorite words (and I DO, trust me!), but because the oddest thing happened a couple of nights ago. I was sitting with Mary, who has now had a small stroke, leaving her speech affected. Not funny at all, BUT . . . she was trying to tell me something about someone I didn't know, and the only words she could come up with to describe him were "Muffin Man". And oh, it was all I could do to not smile, and eventually I HAD to smile, because, despite the sadness of the situation & poor Mary's struggle, the words just make me laugh. I finally told her this & she began to laugh also - she is perfectly able to understand people, she just can't put her tongue around the right words. Her sense of humor is intact, thank goodness.

    Wonderful, wonderful post. I hope you DO explore this subject again.

    :) Debi

  2. how fun was this post ???

    SOOOOO FUN !!!!!

    thanks for making me smile !!!...and of course now I'm thinking of my favorite word...or words....hmmmm,I'll be working on this for awhile !!!!

  3. Oooo.... This kind of post is right up my alley. I adore words. Every journal I've ever written has pages and pages of word lists on them. I am definitely planning to share kukla mou and coquelicot. In return I leave you with just a few of my favorites.

    the place names Coeur d'Alene & Mykonos

    also blue, fizzie, fritz, zephyr, gastrointestinal, conundrum, enigma, voyage, gizzard, fifedom, fruitful, scientific

    and, good night...

  4. My favourite German word is "beschwipst". It means tipsy. I don't know why, but I love this word. Being tipsy is a lot of fun too. So maybe there are some positive associations there.

    I love word play too. Being a literalist means I think about most of the things people say. One of my friends in the French course came up to us at the banquet and said in English*, I think I am going to call it a night. I thought about this and asked her "what else could you call it?" I was promptly informed that my jokes are just as bad in English as they are in French. (*the countdown to English had just ended thus we were allowed finally to speak English after five weeks)

    And when it comes to word play, Arabic reigns king. I love Arabic for this.

  5. oh, this was a great read and it made me smile... words fascinate me... for example, i was elated when i discovered 'petrichor' and its meaning :)

  6. What a lovely post! And now I really, really, really want a cupcake!


  7. My favourite word is recidivist.In the X's pay office there were a group of workers standing around, saying that X was getting a whole lot of elephant ornaments and pictures back,after they'd been missing all those years."Yeah,I went off 'em for a while but I'm gettin' "em back" she said. I almost blurted out "Ah so you're an elephant recidivist then". Thought,"Nar... maybe keep the mouth shut."

  8. Would you think me strange if I admitted that one of my favourite words is 'paradigm'?

    Great post :-)

  9. My parents named one of their many St Bernards "Coquelicot". Words can shine in the strangest and darkest of places.

  10. Such great fun when you start thinking about words..their meanings..their rhythms and sounds. Much to think about. Thanks for getting me started!

  11. i swear i wrote a comment on this one a couple of days ago...i wonder where i really commented, since it's not here!! anyway, what i think i said was that my husband suggested that you turn "skumfiduser" into a verb in order to start employing it in everyday skumfidus and skumfidusing." i pointed out to him that it was a noun, but he said you shouldn't allow yourself to be held back by that.

    what i love about words is making up new ones. we arrived at the airport once before the gate was even posted and my husband said, "we're pre-gatal" :-)

    great post!!

  12. You deliver simple things so beautifully!
    You should write a book Jamie.
    Have a great week!

  13. What's another word for award? I know, I know, it probably drives you crazy, but nonetheless, there's another one waiting for you over at my place.

    :) Debi

  14. This post is so cute. You made me chuckle. Helicopter teehee ;-)
    hmm 'Understand'...*thinking*... you could be 'standing' so 'under' something that you are at the root of the problem?? or you could be standing under (beneath) the problem layer where everything makes sense. lol yeah haha. I don't know if that make's any sense. I'm probably just sounding insane :-)

  15. Another beautiful Skumfiduser of a post!! ;)

    I love words too. Their music, Their depth,

    Their capacity to wrap their warm arms around something which is felt in the darkness

    and bring it to the light.

    I'm off to get me some orange crush,

    Much love, M

  16. this is a post that made a lot of people smile. me included. i like the idea of choosing words and then wondering about how they came to be the chosen ones for an object, a feeling or action. i found my friend claire over at

    and one of the first posts i read of hers was all about my being enthralled with her words. it wasn't even the subject of the post but she captured my heart by using words like her "wee flat, her mates, adverts, ace, fortnight, motorway, top fun and taking a jaunt". her everyday words are my exotic new language. a lot like your interest and thrill with julie's use of danish for the common marshmallow better known as the "skumfiduser!"
    but my favorite from this post is the word and meaning of * Coquelicot*.

  17. Jy (you)
    is (are)
    'n (a)
    "sterretjie" (little star)
    wat (that)
    "skitter" (shines)
    in (in)
    die (the)
    "maanlig". (moonlight)

    jy (you)
    herinner (remind)
    my (me)
    aan (of)
    'pampoentjies'...(little pumpkins)

    klein, (small)
    groen, (green)
    sag (soft)
    en (and)
    absolute (absolute)
    perfeksie. (perfection)

    ek (i)
    "lief" (love)
    "geheime" (secrets)
    wat (that are not)
    geheime (secrets :-)
    nie :-)

    jy (you)
    laat (make)
    my (my)
    hart (heart )
    sing (sing)
    in (in)
    verskillende (different)
    tale ( languages).

    my (my)
    hart (heart)
    loop (is overflowing)

    'liefie', (little love)

    van (from)
    my (my)
    hart (heart)
    na (to)
    jou (your)
    hart... (heart)

    liefde (love)
    liefde (love)
    liefde (love)

    woorde (words)
    geheime (secrets)
    "glimlaggies' (little smiles)
    "drukkies'' (little hugs)

    'ekke' (me-me)
    xx (kisses)

  18. Hi Rhayne,

    I cannot believe I have not been to your blog sooner. What have I been thinking? What a lovely world you have over here. Your photography is stunning.

    I am instantly smitten with that word Coquelicot. It makes you want to say it just by looking at it. I am trying to think of a word to share but I'm finding it hard to pick one that also has a beautiful meaning, too. So right now I think I will offer incandescence as my word.

    And I'll look forward to reading and seeing more here in the future.

  19. I love musical words. I always liked Nebakanezzer when I was young (although I always added a 'd' in the middle because it sounded better) and I still occasionally find it running through my brain for a few days at a stretch.

  20. I just read your entire blog and love it! You are such a wonderful person with such simple, yet interesting and intriguing thoughts! I will always miss our conversations but am so thankful that we had them. After all this time and despite all the intensity of our brief encounter, I'm left with the memory of meeting, knowing and enjoying one of the greatest people Im sure I will ever meet. Wether I was a stepping stone or a pebble you tripped over on your path, I dont regret a thing! You and your words will forever be special! And thats all I have to say about that. :)