Words that go BANG!
My morning has not turned out as I would have liked. For one thing, my oldest is sick and has to write his first exams ever with pain killers and a hot water bottle. I felt awful dropping him off at school, even though I’d done everything possible to make it better – including standing hopefully at the chemist with my nose to the glass until they opened up and I could secure the necessary drugs to get him through the day. My son, who likes his academic work, did not seem nervous, although I wondered if the severe stomach ache might have been a physical expression of nerves he didn’t even recognise.
I don’t remember my first exams. I don’t think we even called them that. They were probably just tests or assessments. But somehow the word “examination” has so much more weight. It has this terror lurking behind it. The fear of failure, sleeplessness, scary teachers and awful report cards. It it linked to things like: exam timetables, revision, studying, rubrics, marks, percentage, themes, thinking skills and all those other horrible things that don’t seem to come up for a mere “test”. A test is just a quick writing down of a few choice answers, but an exam, well, that is a harbinger of crisis or chaos.
This all made me think about how much one can change perception by the choice of a simple word. “Nefarious”, for instance, sounds so much more evil than “wicked”. “Melancholy” sounds much sadder than “sad”.
We choose our words like this all the time, often without realising it. And in South Africa, with the history that we have, certain words like “black”, “white”, “disadvantaged” and “rainbow” have much more redolent meanings.
Here are some other words that have extra meaning for me:
- Wanderlust – a strong desire to travel (a perpetual affliction for me)
- Lullaby – a soft song for a baby
- Effervescence – bubbles
- Apocalypse (a bit like an exam)
- Soporific – sleep-inducing
- Obstreperous – so many noisier and difficult than basic misbehaviour
- Euphoria – a bigger state of happiness than joy
- Searing – so much hotter than hot
- Parsimonious – so stingy!
- Nadir – the lowest point of anything.
What words stir your emotions? I’d love to hear them!