A Word Diary
Start writing a post
Entertainment

A Word Diary

The power of words to expand your thinking.

18
A Word Diary
IMDB

One of my favorite characters in Albert Camus's novel La Peste is Grand. In the midst of the plague which has stricken Oran, he is trying to write a story. The problem is he has trouble with words. He's been stuck on one sentence: "One fine morning in the month of May an elegant young horsewoman might have been seen riding a handsome sorrel mare along the flowery avenues of the Bois de Boulogne."

He works and reworks this one line to death because he wants to get it perfectly right. He comes up with different iterations of this line: "One fine morning in May a slim young horsewoman might have been seen riding a glossy sorrel mare along the the flower-strewn avenues of the Bois de Boulogne."

But Grand is perturbed by this iteration. For: "The plethora of sibilants in the sentence still offended his ear, but he saw no way of amending them without using what were, to his mind, inferior synonyms. And that "flower-strewn" which had rejoiced him when he first lit on it now seemed unsatisfactory. How could one say the flowers were "strewn" when presumably they had been planted along the avenues, or else grew there naturally?"

Finding the right word can be a challenge. And there's the further question if words are sufficient to express our thoughts. In Aristotle's De Interpretation (On Interpretation), he asks questions like: How does language relate to the truth of an idea? Can an idea exist if there is no word that represents it? (http://classicalwisdom.com/aristotles-de-interpret...)

These questions are trickier than you may suppose. Take the question: Can an idea exist if there is no word that represents it?

Some say yes, because our ability to convey an idea to someone else is limited at any given time by the words in our repertoire; hence, you might have a feeling but you have to wait years until such time that you gain the vocabulary to express that feeling. This is one possibility.

But let's say the answer is no. What would this mean? It would mean that the acquisition of ideas is tied to the acquisition of words.

But maybe it is possible to rephrase Aristotle's question: Can one be conscious of an idea if you do not possess the corresponding word--at a given moment--in your mind to represent to it?

I would say no.

We've all experienced times when a phrase is on the "tip of your tongue" but it still eludes you. The word or phrase is not lost to us, but at the moment, it is lost. I maintain that if in a given moment, the word is lost to you, then the idea cannot be contemplated.

Words, therefore, perform a revealing function. The extent to which words are in circulation, so to speak, in your daily vernacular, the corresponding ideas are in your awareness. But when you read something unusual, then new ideas have a chance of arising.

When I read from the book "Writing matters"-- "There is no doubt in my mind that these "compelling discursive modalities"-- web texts, films, radio essays, multimedia presentations-- are here to stay and that they, in fact, constitute the heart of what students of a new rhetoric need to learn and practice." (16) It wasn't as if prior to reading this passage, I was unaware of the new modalities that writing finds its expression in. But I unconsciously aware. But words bring these ideas to the forefront, to conscious awareness.

Therefore, I recommend that everyone keep a "word diary" -- a place where you can freelance, and explore potential ideas.



Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Featured

Panic! At The Disco Announces Breakup After 19 Years

Band Makes Breakup Announcement Official: 'Will Be No More'

8011
panic at the disco

It's the end of an era. Originally formed in 2004 by friends in Las Vegas, Panic! At The Disco is no more.

Brendon Urie announced on Instagram that the band will be coming to an end after the upcoming Europe tour. He said that he and his wife are expecting a baby, and the life change weighed heavily in his mind to come to this decision. "Sometimes a journey must end for a new one to begin," he said.

Keep Reading... Show less
Content Inspiration

Top 3 Response Articles of This Week

Odyssey's response writer community is growing- read what our new writers have to say!

14893
https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-writing-on-white-book-1043514/
https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-typing-on-type...

Each week, more response writers are joining the Odyssey community. We're excited to spotlight their voices on as they engage in constructive dialogue with our community. Here are the top three response articles of last week:

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

To Mom

There are days when you just need your mom

23443
To Mom

There really is no way to prepare yourself for the loss of someone. Imagine that someone being the one who carried you for 9th months in their belly, taught you how to walk, fought with you about little things that only a mother and daughter relationship could understand. You can have a countless number of father figures in your life, but really as my mom always said, " you only get one mom."

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

The Way People In Society are Dating is Why I Don't Date

I need someone to show that they want me for me, not that they're using me to chase the idea of being in a relationship.

23720
The Way People In Society are Dating is Why I Don't Date
rawpixel

You hear your phone go off. He's asking you to hang out. Then, of course, you get the advice of your friends to decipher this text. Is it just hanging out or is it more than hanging out? You've probably done this at least once in your life or at least seen a tweet where someone posted their screenshots with a potential love interest.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

Winter Break As Told By 'Friends'

Is a month at home too much to handle?

15132

If you're anything like me, winter break is a much-needed light at the end of the tunnel after a long, stressful semester. Working hard for 15 weeks can really take a toll on a person mentally, physically AND emotionally. It's a nice change of pace to be back at home with your family and friends, but after a couple weeks, it can get, well... boring.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments