Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Word games

I've married someone who loves words as much as I do. She is more dedicated to nurturing her vocabulary than anyone I know. When we began dating I noticed a laminated page on her wall, full of words and definitions. She would just sit and memorize. She gets about seven word-of-the-day emails every day. Rarely do the emails give a word she doesn't already know. It's not that they send easy words (like impudent prescience subservient or mutability) - they send weird and obscure words: conquian vilipend drawcansir verjuice...

When wooing her I was as reliant on a thesaurus as Christian on Cyrano.

And even with her lexi-lust I can't get her interested in phonology. I start to tell her about my latest realization or theory (I've stumbled on more of the former than I have formulated of the latter) and her eyes begin to dart past my shoulder to the clock. She gives a tight closed-mouth smile and begins to blink quickly. When I look away for a second I suspect she rolls her eyes and takes a deep breath.

It's the same reaction I give her when she begins to talk about the latest Nicole Richie gossip or the latest news about how Angelina and Brad are going to save the world.

Our interests do converge on word games (I'll differentiate word games from language games which I will discuss in my next post).

We share an early memory of sitting in my office playing Boggle even before we were dating (That's about 1st base in the Seventh-day Adventist culture). She has never won a game of Boggle but she is leading in the Scrabble series. When we play Balderdash she regularly knows the definition and doesn't have to make one up. And then there are the non-competitive games. One of us will come up with a category and we take turns coming up with appropriate items. I've decided to include such categories occasionally as a post. Nothing polemic. Nothing provocative. Nothing controversial.

Here's a list that has been augmenting for years. But because of my terrible memory and since I've not written down the items I have to start from scratch.

Words that are accepted as common nouns/verbs that were originally brand names:
coke (down south)
cuisinart (for food processor - the popularity of the FoodTV and epicureanism is teaching people to recognize alternatives to this brand - slowing down or even reversing the process of genericism).
kodak (just like the previous - almost dead since the 80s because of Fuji's quality and now digital photography).

See - I'm starting to rely on marginal candidates to the list. I'll post more in the comments section as I think of them. That is if you don't beat me to it.


  1. Don't forget about Tylenol or Aspirin.

  2. Hoover, if you live on an isle, and that works as a verb too.

  3. Good examples. Medicine is a ripe field for these. The secret is early entry as a product/technology that will eventually become commonplace.

  4. Hey there. Thanks for the comment. Glad to see you stumbled onto my site. Nothing too exciting, I fear. But that's about where life is right now. It's good to hear that you and Buffy are so happy. Good for you. How great the married life is.

  5. We need to sit Buffy and Gretchen next to each other next time at some party so that they can talk about Nicole Richie's sunglasses while we figure out whether Gretchen's last name is made up of one consonant or two...

    But, I'm sure you know the answer to that, so let's make it a little more difficult.


Thanks for reaching out.

You can also contact me at wishydig[at]gmail[d0t]com.