Pandemic, now there’s a big word for you. I would surmise that many of us were unfamiliar with this word a few weeks ago. However, in the context of countless articles with pandemic in the title, posts with pandemic in the subject line, and electronic commentary with pandemic used in a sentence or two, we all could probably guess that it means, a global epidemic (affecting all and every nation).
“I like big ‘words,’ and I cannot lie
You other brothers can’t deny….”
That a well-rounded big word in your face
is a thing of beauty!
I apologize to those of you with sensibilities that won’t allow you to appreciate my mocking-parody of a 1992 rap tune about big butts, that I mostly remember being delivered by the potty-mouthed Donkey, I believe, in a Shrek movie. I just had to…. Song lyrics pop into my head randomly. Maybe it has something to do with the rhyming of lyrics pasted onto a memorable melody that remains in my brain tissue only to leak out at sometimes odd moments.
I’ve been accused of using big words. Okay. So, you want little words, short words, small words, perhaps four-letter words?
I like big words and fancy words. I’m the Dolly Parton of big words. I like disused words and unusual words. I just, flat out, love words. I can’t imagine why I’m a reader and writer.
Thank you, Mom, for modeling for your children an appreciation for the written and spoken English language. It was one of the joys of my own life to have taught my child to read. The circle of life.
As to the accusation of my using too many big words, it came from a student evaluation of my teaching skills, a long time ago, from a lad or lass in an Introduction to Sociology course. Then, students could say anything they wished in an evaluation of the course, and the Instructor was expected to take it on the chin, hopefully either improving their performance or dismissing it as a disgruntled kiddo who thought they deserved an A but earned a C. As there was no recourse to a student evaluation back then, it was what it was, I responded definitively but silently.
My gut-reaction, rebuttal was a sarcastic, “Get a dictionary.” The expanded version, in my head was, “This is college. Expand your vocabulary, expand your world.” Then, “come on, really!?” Then, probably some purely reactionary and unimaginative four-letter word.
As an aside, listen up people, especially movie-makers and script-writers – they didn’t use the F-word in the middle ages even for the “sex-thing” (not until late 15th century) and certainly not for an exclamation of disdain (19th century). Just sayin’. One of my pet-peeves.
About that aforementioned student evaluation, which was penned many years ago; I’ve mellowed since. So, now when people accuse me of using big words, I go into my head again, never really saying these things to people. I go back in time yet again, and refer to the tactic I used with students in my Developmental Studies Reading Lab at a university I worked at in Kentucky. It’s simple.
Look at the context of what you’re reading to determine a general gist of a big word’s meaning. I do it with Romance Language foreign words all the time. French, Italian, Spanish, and many English words are based on Latin. From the English, many times I can suss out the meaning of a French, Italian, or Spanish word I’m confronted with. Not being fluent in any of these foreign languages, I can get by with greetings and the niceties, this way. Or, when I need to make a point and English just doesn’t do the sentiment justice, I study the context in which I want to use a foreign word and having heard or read the foreign word before plus a little help from Google Translate, voila.
“With a yawn, and a gentle pandiculation of her sleepy limbs, she drifted off to dreamland. Something I would know nothing about. Insomnia is more my style.” Could the word pandiculation mean to stretch? And, it’s a much more fun word than stretch, I think.
Now, back to the big word, pandemic. Can we learn some related pan- words that might expand our vocabulary as well as our generosity toward “all” in this global time of trouble? How about panorama?
Many years ago, I had a dream wherein God gave me an option. “You choose,” He said, “the panorama or the single pane.” And I was shown a huge, 360-degree view of “It’s a small world,” at Disney World. This was one of my favorite destinations at the park, back in the day. Everywhere I looked, the objects in view were white, soft, jewel-like, sparkly, feathery, shiny, innocent, and childlike. It was a fantastical utopia. The single-pane window, in contrast, was one of those divided panes. It was crowded, confusing, confined, utilitarian, and wholly undesirable. Of course I chose the panorama. I wanted it all.
How about Pan-Christian? Uniting all branches of this group of believers.
Pan-cultural or pan-traditional = spanning many cultural traditions.
So, here we are back to pandemic. ALL, ALL, ALL …. And, to combat it? How about panacea? “One for all, all for one” (The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas). The goal is to work separately (socially distanced) but toward one outcome, benefiting all.
I had an opportunity today to correspond with a customer in Hong Kong. We agreed that “we’re all in this together.” And, together, we’ve got this.