As a youngster, I enjoyed looking up words in the dictionary, although at the time, I didn’t dwell on much more than the first given definition. My parents kept a dictionary handy in our dining room, and if during a meal a word was used that we children didn’t know, we were told to “look it up.” Once checked, we had to read the meaning aloud.
I still have to look up words in the dictionary. By no means do I command a great vocabulary, but basically I communicate pretty well. My trouble is I like words perhaps too much. Sometime I get “wordy.” In writing that’s a weakness. I didn’t know what “purple prose” was until I went to college and saw it written in the margin of my returned theme. My English professor Mrs. Gilpatrick (we called her “Mrs. Gilly”) did not tolerate “purple prose.” Today I appreciate a well constructed sentence, and I like direct prose. I can recognize “purple prose” a mile away!
My three- year- old granddaughter has taken to “words” and likes to rhyme words. While she was standing in the kitchen watching me cook the other night, I asked her what word rhymed with “table.” She immediately said, “Mable.” When I asked her what rhymed with “birds,” she said “words.” Of course I was impressed. It was the beginning of a conversation about words. We have read Dr. Seuss, who certainly liked words and rhymes, and I’m sure most adults remember lines from his GREEN EGGS and HAM, The CAT in the HAT, and his other books. Those words and sounds almost come “trippingly on the tongue,” a la Shakespeare.
When texting completely takes over our communication habits what will become of words? This is a question I’m not able to answer, but one thing is certain: people will miss hearing the wonderful poetic sounds of words and be poorer for it. I haven't yet taken to "texting." In her September, 2012, essay, Kentucky writer friend Georgia Green Stamper discussed "texting" with her adult children and humorously announced she was going to learn the Morse Code. When I was dating my husband, an amateur radio operator of the highest level, he tried to teach me the Morse Code. I was a poor student. Even today, he gets on the radio and “works” friends tapping out words in dots and dashes. Although I can hear those dots and dashes and find a comfortable rhythm to them, I prefer the sound of words. Texting? No sounds at all!