Hundreds of years ago, wars between European kingdoms were fought by collections of disparate forces, each originating from one of the realm’s fiefdoms and led by its lord. The backbone of these forces, their most capable and dangerous soldiers, was each lord’s cadre of knights. However, not all of the knights in any given army were bound to lord and land. Some were itinerants, traveling from place to place in search of a lord who would pay them for their services. While such knights no longer exist we still, in a perfect display of just how wonderful language can be, use their title to refer to some workers today: free lancers.
In a similarly interesting quirk of language, consider names in the English language. Almost each and every one of them has a stress on the first syllable. Think about it for a moment, using the five most popular English names for boys and girls: James, John, Robert, Michael, and William; and Mary, Patricia, Linda, Barbara, and Elizabeth. Almost all of these names, eight out of ten, have a stress on the first syllable, and the ones that don’t, Elizabeth and Patricia, have nicknames that do: Lizzy and Pat or Patty. I have absolutely no idea why this is, I just know that, in a wonderful little quirk of the English language, it is.
These are, of course, far from the only little wonders that the English language has for us. Whether it’s the surprising story behind the phrase “the whole nine yards” (which involves the total length of a machine gun belt in World War 2) or the lists upon lists of little known-words you can find on the internet, this language is a treasure trove. English, in one form or another, has been around for over a thousand years after all, and those centuries leave their mark. It is packed with a dazzling array discoveries for those who play with it to make, some funny, some epic, some simply interesting, so many that you could spend lifetimes cataloging them all.
This is why I love language so much, why I love writing so much, why I have always wanted to be a writer. There is so much wonder in language, so much mystery and story and beauty in it, that a hundred lifetimes wouldn’t be enough to explore it all. When I write I feel steeped in all that meaning, both creating and a part of the infinite story that is language. When I write I am both explorer and craftsman, both discovering everything there is behind the words and phrases I write and weaving something new from them. How could I not want to be a part of that?
With Excitement and Optimism,
P.S. I apologize for the lateness of this post! I was out of the country this past week. Next week's will be delivered on time!