Marginalia, no.117

The man who writes in Saxon
Is the man to use an ax on.

~ Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

Bitter Bierce did not share that opinion of Orwell’s that monosyllabic words of Anglo-Saxon origin are generally preferred.  Of course, if it weren’t for his use of ‘use’ (Latin by way of French) in the above, Bierce himself might have invited the ax.  Personally, I waver.  There is in certain words like ‘wreak’ and ‘death’ a vintage odor of the mead hall that stirs the blood.  But if I limit myself for a full day to Fowler’s favorites, I have nightmares in French and Greek and wake the next morning shouting out for my sesquipedalia verba.



Filed under Marginalia

3 responses to “Marginalia, no.117

  1. Dave Lull

    Hi Ian,

    I had occasion recently to write a comment at another blog in monosyllabic words, to make a point. It’s a game for some, this writing in words of “one beat” or “one pulse.” For examples see:

    The One Beat Book of Verse

    Dave Blum’s WSJ story “Words of 1 pulse link a group of folks in short, plain talk”,4393692



  2. Ian Wolcott

    Wonderful – thank you, Mr Lull.

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention Marginalia, no.117 « The New Psalmanazar --

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