Monday, June 11, 2012

Wordsmith

It started with a simple discussion about the word fete.  It suddenly seemed "funny" to me.  Fete, in case it seems peculiar or unfamiliar to you, simple refers to a day of celebration; a holiday.  From there it went to a small bundle of words that have been popping up in my reading lately.  New words to the vocabulary are always exciting to try out.  Use them or lose them is the best policy, in my view.
So it was with conservative columnist George Will's recent use of the word bloviate.  Will, obviously displeased with Donald Trump's continual bullying over Barak Obama's birth certificate authenticity called The Donald a "bloviating ignoramus."   Such an elegant way to call someone a windbag.  Perhaps it's the blo in bloviate that adds the onomatopoetic justice to the phrase.
Seems to me that so many of the cable news channels these days are full of bloviators, if I might coin a word.
I read the word gauche in print the other day.  You know this one; it's pronounced with the long o sound like in go.  Some of those bloviating pundits exhibit a bit of gauche behavior more often than not.  Like a Venn diagram, their hot air blows over the plains of insensitivity into the swamp of crude.  Some folks have no social filter, others no social grace.  I've noticed that Facebook, too, contains no shortage of bloviating, knuckle dragging, lecturers.  Trouble is most are too lazy to look up the word, even with an online dictionary.
I've been reading the Julian Barnes novel The Sense of an Ending lately.  Barnes, a British writer, has published 10 previous novels as well as short stories and three collections of journalism.  He has a massive vocabulary and always has me running to the dictionary.  I heard him interviewed a few months ago on NPR while driving across town, and the result was the same.  I went right to the dictionary when I got home.
Last night I read the sentence, "Over a susurrus of awed mutterings, he told us that..."  I read the sentence a few times and since it was late decided to take a shot and then look up the word later.  I think I went with something like frequency, but I was way off.  A susurrus is a whispering or rustling sound.  Lovely, isn't it.  A susurrus of leaves or leaves of paper, or perhaps voices.  I think it would be a real fete when some rather gauche folks replace bloviating with a susurrus of thoughtful sounds.

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