Get Thee to a Nunnery


The etymology of English words has long been of fascination to me. The nunnery that Hamlet spoke of is most oft believed to be a convent. Poor Ophelia, had she not drowned herself, would have found a far more active life ahead of her then perpetual prayer–a nunnery was a brothel. Ophelia would not have worn a habit and knelt all day; she would have entertained from a more supine position, and the only cries she made to God would be for her freedom.

There are words, like savannah, tipi, or beaver that were talen from the natives and the native languages and adopted as the English word. And there are words we have invented: chemotherapy, ebonics, and, rifle. All of these words have merit…but do some have more than others? Is tipi more of a word than ebonics, or is chemotherapy more real since it was invented (albeit piecemeal) from other words?

I have favourite words: honour, colour, favour–for me most of my favourites are spelled in British form…it IS their language, after all. Over the years I have found the words look better on paper, sound better to my ear, and, feel better when they roll from my tongue.

Language is a commodity that we largely take for granted. Spell something correctly today. Look up a new word in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Read a book. The more words we own within our hearts and minds, the better we can communicate. The better we communicate, the more we can do to help ourselves, and each other.


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