I saw the word ‘‘wordsmith’’ in a social media response and was taken back a bit. In case you’ve forgotten it means ‘‘a fluent and prolific writer, especially one who writes professionally.’’ In short: an expert on words.
That reminds of those true wordsmiths:
George Bernard Shaw: ‘‘Words are only postage stamps delivering the object for you to unwrap.”
Will Rogers: ‘‘Everything is funny, as long as it’s happening to somebody else.’’
Mark Twain: “The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”
Alas, many people nowadays speak in acronyms, especially the younger generation. Those are words formed from initials or other parts of several words, like NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).
My godson’s teenage son when using Facebook often ends a short phrase with ‘‘tbh.’’ I was forced to look it up to learn it means ‘‘to be honest.’’
My youngest granddaughter often ends a statement with lol, but I never really know if she means ‘‘lots of love’’ or ‘‘lots of luck.’’ It also can mean laugh out loud or log off loser.
Even President Obama is an acronym in the eyes of many, including the media. He’s known as POTUS (President of the United States).
The dictionary makers have been adding a host of new words during the 21st Century. Back in 2001 baby momma was inserted -- an unmarried young woman who has had a child.
I was surprised to learn hog leg is an unusually large and fat marijuana cigarette generally used in parts of Texas.
I especially love greentailing: environmentally-friendly retailing.
But my favorite was sanctioned in ’06: mouse potato. It’s a person who spends a great deal of time using a computer.
In ’09 during trying economic times, a most appropriate new word made dictionaries – staycation. That’s a vacation spent at home or nearby.
Last year, we were blessed with:
Baditude: a bad attitude.
Unsub: an unidentified person who has committed a crime.
Legitical: politically legitimate.
Nononliner: a person who does not use the Internet.
Mr. Twain penned much advice about words throughout his lifetime starting with the best time to start writing is ‘‘when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is that you really want to say.’’
Getting the Right Word in the Right Place: ‘‘A rare place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself. Anybody can have ideas -- the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.’’
Style and Matter: ‘‘Great books are weighed and measured by their style and matter, and not the trimmings and shadings of their grammar.’’
The Queen’s English: ‘‘There is no such thing as the Queen’s English. The property has gone into the hands of a joint stock company and we own the bulk of the shares.”
I always thought it was the King’s English, but Twain lived much of his life during the long reign of Queen Victoria.
One master of the King’s English was Sir Kingsley William Amis, a novelist, poet, critic and teacher who passed away in ’95.
He penned “The King’s English: A Guide to Modern Usage.’’ But part of the title was a pun because friends and family sometimes called the author of 20 books ‘‘Kingers’’ or ‘‘The King.’’
Amis certainly had a sense of humor:
“It is natural and harmless in English to use a preposition to end a sentence with.”
‘‘With some exceptions in science fiction and other genres I have small difficulty in avoiding anything that could be called American literature. I feel it is unnatural, not I think entirely because it uses a language that is not mine, however closely akin to my own.”
I resemble those remarks.
Greg Melikov, who writes about various subjects for publications and Internet sites, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.