I confess: I’m a word nerd.
Hey, I’m a writer. Words are what I “do.” I can’t get enough of them!
And when I read an article as deliciously word-nerdy as this one, it’s all I can do to keep from emailing everyone I know, exclaiming, “You MUST read this!” And then their eyes glaze over and I just sigh and say, “Never mind.” It’s not easy being a writer among neighbors who don’t know a gerund from a participle and aren’t the least bit concerned about their lack of ignorance.
All right, so perhaps the fate of planet Earth may not hinge on a perfect command of English grammar in all its splendor. I realize not everyone LIKED to diagram sentences back in the days where children actually learned the parts of speech (don’t get me started). But I LOVED it — the more complex the sentence to diagram, the better. Of course, in the years since those days, I’ve forgotten more, perhaps, than I remember of English grammar.
But today I discovered another realm hiding in academe where I can “get my word-nerd on” and let words simply wash over me.
An article written by Lucy Ferriss is a word nerd’s paradise. Here’s a tasty sample:
“Professionally trained linguists, please put your fingers in your ears and say “La-la-la-la-la” for the remainder of this post. Using terms that are no doubt clunky and antiquated, I want to point out a distinction in English that occasionally gives me a flush of pleasure.
In my universe (linguists, keep la-la-ing), there are four moods: indicative, imperative, interrogative, and subjunctive. To each of them I find a personal corollary. I’ve been in an indicative mood. On bad days, I’m in an imperative mood (ask my partner). Often, I feel fairly interrogatory—does the moon wax on the opposite side in Australia? But ooh, ooh, me oh my, to be in a subjunctive mood. There’s something bluesy about it, something liminal, a brush of the surreal.”
See what I mean? I think I’m in writer’s heaven.
Ms. Ferris is writer in residence at Trinity College in Connecticut and the author of literary criticism, a memoir, and seven books of fiction. Her Web site is lucyferriss.com, for those wishing to read more about the author.
Read her article Sing Me Subjunctive (opens in new window) in its entirety and let it wash over you.
So, what about you? Do you ever get your word-nerd on? Leave a comment below and feel free to share on your favorite social media sites.