Tag Archives: word

Letter clutter

In accentuated cafés and discothèques there is an occasional rôle for a more encyclopædic breadth, but, in the main, written English works with just 26 letters, and now, when text is prepared for publication, there’s seldom support for typographic ligatures. All those words – so stiffly made from so few letters – squat as if on sorting racks and monochromic grids. Possibilities of further playfulness and curlicue are ignored, forgotten or never even known.

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At close quarters some words have a heartfelt affinity, others hyphenate self-consciously, and some are grouped hook, line and sinker. Words have tendencies to gather, interrelate and revel in their jointly generated powers, as they build phrase and sentence to engender comprehension and creativity. The order can be changed: composition can balance stresses, disturb preconceptions, make meaning out of contrasts and conflicts, dictate the placing of phrases in crowded texts.

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Words come to bits

Words of one syllable aren’t always the most simple, but they show what can be done with limited resources. Longer words, requiring an increased effort of articulation, may lead to misunderstandings, as once and future composite vocabularies splinter and divide into parallel neologisms. Stresses and rhythms of spoken language pass onto the page according to local usage and custom, but leave the separate parts of each word with no meaning of their own.


Fixing words

Bits that appear in front of some words prefix expectations of meaning to come. Afterwards, a suffix will twist a word’s tail.   Beginnings hark back to older languages and the ends come from settlers and conquerors: the edges of these words change the way we look at things.  With prefixes and suffixes they extend explorations of unlikely contraindications that simultaneously dominate and dislocate metaphysical interpretations and ontological predeterminations. Prefixes and suffixes can add clarity or create confusion.


The initial letter

There I am, and я too, a single letter at the centre of the writing. U can be the reader. И, y and e put things together in pairs or strings, and other writers use single vowels and consonants – a, i, o, à, į, w, z, б, s, с – for basic meanings. Letters put together as acronyms and abbreviations offer to save time, but more frequently restrict common access, adopting new roles in the DNA of mystification. Some letters are at the heart of short messages, there to save space and foster ambiguity. Some letters are words, some stand in for words, and some don’t. OK?

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Little groups of letter pals look good, but lack significance until they morph and gather as words with meaning. Phonemes and morphemes are pheromonal, with slack bonds that give us all the words we can imagine: all those wordy phenomena from which to choose the few that reinforce prejudice, determine structures and serendipities. Too many undiscovered, discarded and adulterated words lie waiting for discovery and new purpose. The raw material of words is inexhaustible.