As a writer, I love the multitude of words at my disposal, the ability to say the same thing in any number, quantity, or exponent of different complicated, sometimes poetic, sometimes ridiculous ways. I like the precision of being able to hop, skip, bound, leap, lunge, lurch, hurdle, vault, or just plain jump into whatever it is I’m doing, the fact that each of this Jordan-esque actions provides a slightly different perspective on what’s going on. A good breadth of synonyms, I believe, is what makes a language rich and beautiful, enticing to experience.
As a teacher, I feel sorry for my students, content with learning “jump” and getting on to the next idea, content that they can now express this action, especially with a regular verb (made past tense by adding –ed: jumped) rather than having to memorize a new set of illogical endings (as in fly-flew-flown). However, we press on, knowing we must persevere in this endeavor because variations make language explosive, subtle, and playful, not just a bland form of communication, and as a result, much of what we read, say, and hear is the more precise versions of expression.
As a fellow language learner, I feel their pain when Spanish throws in some new variation of “happy”: contento-content, feliz-happy, alegre-pleased, tranquillo-at ease, contentillo-tipsy… I would be more than feliz to convey this emotion in one all-encompassing way and that all Spanish-speakers were felizes to do the same. After all, I’ve learned to pluralize adjectives. Isn’t that enough? Why on earth should I need subtlety? How often do I say content, pleased, or tipsy ? But, something about saying tranquillo, also used as an equivalent to “chill”, is just cool, so maybe they're worth learning.
As a fan of wordplay, I’m probably less sympathetic than I should be with my students. I get caught up in the versatility that terms can have, how “green” can denote a color, a lack of experience, appearing seasick, and, in a stretch, being horny (the same is true in Spanish--Estoy verde.). Truthfully, who doesn’t enjoy a good double entendre, a craftily delivered pun, every now and again ["This bush is in need of a trim, I can hardly see your prize clematis, Mrs Windthrop" ]. For that matter, consider the frequency and vast variety in which we use curse words.
As a crappy translator and general jackass, I love the ability to misuse things, especially to the tune of taking my own language and imposing it on another. I spent the better part of my time in Guatemala introducing the Spanish-speaking world to the phrase “word up”, which admittedly has lost some steam in English but seems rather fresh remade as palabra arriba, amigo. On the other hand, unable to get the lyrics correct, I also took pleasure in wondering around sing “One Ton Tomato. I eat a one ton tomato.” rather than the Cuban classic, “Guantanamera”.
As a blogger, I’m a little at a loss for words on how to finalize, draw to a close, finish, complete, conclude, pinpoint the purpose of, or summarize my thoughts on this: Suffice to say, the thesaurus on Microsoft Word has come through yet again, and together, we have journeyed once more, though briefly and rather indirectly, into the maddening world of an EFL teacher. I bid you adieu.