Etymology

Here is where I’ll be sharing a new word every week. I will always be sourcing the definitions from Merriam-Webster Dictionary. So without further ado:

Definition of etymology

1 : the history of a linguistic form (such as a word) shown by tracing its development since its earliest recorded occurrence in the language where it is found, by tracing its transmission from one language to another, by analyzing it into its component parts, by identifying its cognates in other languages, or by tracing it and its cognates to a common ancestral form in an ancestral language

Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

L is for Language

So we are now on day 13 of the A to Z challenge which means that we are officially halfway through the challenge. Can I get a cheer anyone? Kudos to everyone who has made it this far in the challenge, it’s a lot of work but it’s a lot of fun at the same time.

halfway point

Today, what I love about writing is L for Language. I absolutely adore words. I love the way they can have so many different meanings and spellings. For example, take color and colour. They are both spelled correctly and mean exactly the same thing, the only difference is that the first one is commonly used in American English while the second is used in British English.

 

 

Another thing I love is discovering the etymology of a word. I was watching “As Time Goes By” with my mom the other night (It’s a British comedy with Judi Dench) and the word firkin came up. Now, I always though a firkin was a type of flask used for drinks like whiskey, but my mom was unfamiliar with the word so I looked it up out of curiosity. A firkin is actually a small cask that holds about 11 gallons.

 

ORIGIN

Middle English ferdekyn, probably from the Middle Dutch diminutive of vierde ‘fourth’ (a firkin originally contained a quarter of a barrel).

Source: Bing Search

 

It’s fun to see how words evolve and change. There are even new words being added to the dictionary ever year. For example, two new words are chillax (chill out and relax combined) and bling (flashy and expensive objects, often ostentatious). They are in the dictionary, I checked.

And when writing, there is always the search for the perfect word. You might know four words that mean roughly the same thing, but depending on context, one will be more appropriate than the others. Let’s say that your character is having problems choosing between several options. You have the options of ‘Several, myriad, so many, a lot, tons, and a bunch’. Depending on the formality of the situation, you have choices. For a less formal situation, you might go with something like, “Becky knew that she had tons to do, but she needed to just pick one and start.” On the other hand, if your faced with a more formal situation, it would be more like, “Princess Maria looked over the myriad suitors that sought her hand and wondered how in the world they would be able to house all of them in the guest quarters.”

There is a downside to words too, though. I am a voracious reader with a fairly large vocabulary. However, most of it has been gained through reading, so sometimes when I’m talking I have no idea how to pronounce a word and leave my listener baffled and myself in a state of embarrassed humor (it’s happened often enough that I pretty much just see the humor in it anymore).

 

So what is your all time favorite word?

Frantic

This is a concept that I am well acquainted with as a writer. I do not know if every writer is like this, or if it is only me. After all, I am a pantser not a plotter. If you do not know what that means, a pantser is someone who sits down and starts writing without a well planned out course of where the story is going or exactly what they characters are going to do or say. Think of it as like where Bilbo Baggins set out after the Dwarves in such a hurry that he didn’t even take the time to pack properly. He still had an incredible journey, but it was probably quite different from what it would have been if he and the Dwarves had sat down and planned out a solid course of action.

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A plotter on the other hand, has a very well laid out road map if you will. They sit down and plan out the book in its entirety. They know where the novel begins, where it ends, a loose idea of how their characters will get there, exactly who their characters are, and a rough idea how every chapter will go. While this is a marvelous approach and I honestly wish I could write like this, my characters are much to rebellious to ever agree to anything like this. They like to change course mid-book, mid-chapter, and mid-scene. I’ve learned to just go with the flow.

So yes, my writer’s life is filled with frantic joy. I frantically type trying to get all of my thoughts out while the characters are agreeing and the plot is going to smoothly that it makes me want to weep with joy, but I can’t, because I have to get it all typed. I frantically argue with my characters about staying in line with my idea of what the story is only to get stubborn refusal (although they are usually right and the story ends up being better for it). I also stubbornly try to keep my storyline on track, although usually by the second chapter it is totally derailed.

Also, this past weekend, I frantically typed trying to write 25k words in only four days. But then, I finish the novel and the franticness ends. I can take a deep breath, cry a little bit like a shell shocked survivor that can’t believe that they somehow, impossibly, survived the crisis. I dance around the room a bit (drawing curious and concerned glances from my cats) and treat myself with one of my favorite snacks. And after about five minutes, the next story is whispering at me, starting the process all over again.

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So what causes frantic joy in your life?

Frantic

NovelRama or 25k in 4 days

So on Friday afternoon, also known as day one of NovelRama, I found out about the event and decided to go ahead and jump in. After all, I’m a writer, so how hard could it really be? Of course, I’ve had writer’s block on my novel for three weeks, but no big deal, right?

novelrama

 

Day one: Because I joined late, I only reached 1,500 words. But that’s ok, because I had three more days to make it up. I’d be more prepared for the next day.

Day two: The morning was spent hanging with family, but I spent the afternoon and evening writing. There were hilarious llama memes and hourly sprints (where you type as much as you can as fast as you can and everyone posts their word count at the end of the hour). It was a good day and I managed to get about 8k words written. Woohoo, bye bye writer’s block!

Day three: This was a harder day for me as I had to get up earlier than normal for me for the second day in a row. I am one of those types of people that needs her eight hours of beauty sleep. So I hang with my family in the morning and then head for my computer in the afternoon. However, writing can be extremely mentally and emotionally tiring, so I called it a day after roughly 5k words. But hey, it’s better than nothing, right?

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Day four: I have 10.5k words left to do to reach my goal of 25k. I can do this! Right? At least I think I can. After warning my family not to disturb me or risk psycho writer wrath (We’re a strange kind of people, especially when abruptly pulled from our train of thought). However, alas and alack, it was not to be. Due to multiple interruptions due to animals and family members in true need as well as technical problems, my day did not go to plan. Add in a man hunt in our area for a man considered armed and dangerous and all of my finger joints aching from all the typing I was doing, it just wasn’t meant to be. The event ended at midnight MDT, but I called the end of NovelRama at 10 p.m. with a word count of a little over 23k total (8.5k for the day) and I was truly ecstatic. Did I hit 25k? Not quite. But I made such incredible progress on my novel over four days as well as getting to connect with several fabulous people. I truly do not regret a thing.

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Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers is having another NovelRama in August. I seriously recommend if you are a writer that you check it out. It’s free and no matter if you do 2 words or 25k words, the experience is extraordinary.
So what is the craziest challenge that you’ve ever done spur of the moment?

 

Words: Identical yet infinite

As an author, words are my stock in trade. They are the door that allow my into myriad worlds and they are they magic that allows me to convey those worlds to others. But in truth, what are words? In the English language, the alphabet is composed of only 26 letters. Imagine that, a little over 2 dozen shapes allow us to formulate an immeasurable amount of words. Not only that, they allow us to convey anything that the human imagination can come up with.

Also, even though words can look the same and/or even be the same exact word, their meaning can change. Take, for example this mug:

coffee mug

Although grammatically correct and spelled right, the four hads are rather overwhelming.  Indeed, instead of clarifying it, I found that I had to read it a few times for its meaning to sink in fully. But, although somewhat confusing, when read, it does convey a sentence that makes sense. So although all four hads are identical, every single one changed the meaning of the sentence until you arrive at the final meaning: The woman has felt no effect from all the coffee she has drank.

Another thing I am fond of are the games where you take a random list of letters and make as many words as you can from them.

make words

It trains your brain to be flexible, to think beyond the words that we use every day. It’s amazing how the same set of letters can be combined in so many different ways. Identical yet different.

Identical

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