Saturday, February 28, 2015

Collecting Lexical Memorabilia

I own ten globes, including a chinoiserie, a gemstone, and an astronomical night sky globe.  In order to call yourself a collector of something, you must have at least three members of that class of items and then must study, organize, display, and enjoy discussing them.  I meet that criteria, so I can call myself a collector of globes.

I collect dog art.  I have framed prints of dogs, paintings of dogs, sculptures of dogs, books about dogs, and stuffed dogs.  I have two real dogs, Old Lady Dog Callie and Great Big Baby Dog Woodrow, but they don’t count. 
I do not own this painting.  It's by Charles Burton Barber, titled Special Pleader, and costs about a million dollars.  My dad loved it and had a framed postcard of it on the wall of his bedroom that Mom said was his favorite picture.  After he and Mom died, I didn't want many things from the estate, but I wanted this framed postcard.  So I took it. 

I have a music collection: some framed and unframed originals of my like-a-dad-to-me junior-high-school band director's manuscripts; twenty or thirty books about music; odds and ends of sheet music; a plastic bust of Beethoven I bought for 50 cents at a thrift shop; five harmonicas; a clarinet I play almost daily; a saxophone I don't; and a euphonium that I share with my brother but haven't a clue how to play.

I have a wall-to-wall custom-made bookshelf in my library, and I probably have 500 books on it that I study, organize, display, and like to talk about, so I'm a book collector.  I have sections for books on music; art; dogs; history; writing; fantasy; Scotland and England; Episcopaliana; children’s picture books; reference books; books I have written; and old books handed down to me.  I have a book of Plutarch’s essays that’s 200 years old.  And I have a framed single page from a Scottish Episcopal Prayer Book from 1635. 
This is one of the books I wrote.  If you're a secondary teacher, buy it.  I get a 10% royalty.  While that won't buy me a cup of coffee at Starbucks, it will buy me a cup at one of the locally-owned restaurants I frequent.
But my favorite collection is my collection (sic) of lexical memorabilia.  Words are the best thing to collect.  You don't have to give up one cubic millimeter of space in your house for them.  You don't have to insure them, or dust them, or worry about the dog knocking them off a table and breaking them.  You can discuss them endlessly.  They tell a story, either in isolation or combined in infinite ways.   They are free.  You can share them with your friends without losing them.  And they are both beautiful and useful.
You can collect words that already exist: alluring words like laurel, whimsy, or amber; delightful words like pooch, draconian, or limerence; funny words like whippersnapper, vocabularian, or adoxography; or words for things you didn’t know had names, like glabella (the space between your eyebrows), mizzle (a misty drizzling rain), cornicione (the outer part of the crust on a pizza), or barm (the foam on a beer).

Or you can make up words that need to be made up, like words my dad and I have been making up for 50 years, words like interminabominable (time that seems to pass so slowly while you’re waiting for something you’re looking forward to that you think you might die); panduckulation (the act of an aquatic bird stretching its wings); almostest (the superlative state of being almost), or eggelegant (an adjective referring to a gorgeous omelet).

Ergo, I urge you to consider collecting words if you do not already do so.  I’ll give you three of my favorites: ubiquitous, egregious, and platypus.  
Okay, fair's fair.  Now you give me three of yours...
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  1. And...all the feelings and visions those three words elicit.