I’ve always been a word-nerd – collecting them up from Famous Five books (determined; kitbag) & my mum’s weekly women’s magazines (devastate; masturbate – a regular on the problem pages, although it was some time before I could really pronounce or understand it).
I’d absorb them by osmosis – so sure that the imaginary land my soft toys hailed from – California – was my own wonderful invention. Playing with a puffalump in the garden one day, I was distraught to be chastised when my Dad overheard me say ‘bollocks‘. What did he mean it was swearing? Hadn’t I just made that word up?
Into adulthood, my vocabulary has served me well. The ability to write carried me through exams when I had only a flimsy grasp of the subject – where writing a well-worded, articulate essay is half the battle.
I leaned that words are the weapons that anyone can weild. A decade on, I still delight in the memory of my misogynistic manager’s face twitching as he tried to work out if my saying oxymoron was insulting or not. The right words can soothe and placate, belittle and deride. They can open doors, simply by appearing in the right combination at the right time.
For all there are times when writing a single post feels as painful and implausible as birthing a full grown elephant, when I’m fired up & passionate I know my words will fly to hand. Like a Jedi and her lightsaber, a woman’s idiolect is hers for life.
A few of my favourite words
idiolect – I just used it above – the personalised linguistic system of an individual – vocabulary, intonation, speech patterns, etc.