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Fun with Words

'Twas brillig and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.
All mimsy were the borogroves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
— Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll

If you regard someone as your friend, you probably feel at ease kicking back with them, being informal, having fun, letting your hair down - gettin' a bit crazy.

In the next few exercises, we're going to party down with words. By the end of each exercise, you will feel a little looser around your good buddies, those word fellas - and a little easier about asking them to go unknown places with you.

Word Game #1

When I was a child, everyone around me cussed. A lot. I reacted against this; I didn't cuss at all until I was well into my thirties. One of the things I substituted for cussing was old-fashioned "cussing" - fiddlesticks and fiddle-dee-dee, bosh and balderdash. People are startled by such uncommon words, when they have long since become numb to more common cussing-out. Another substitute was sheer nonsense, like,"Ratsnitz fershlugginer fahrenheit brondstadt!"

Then there was the inventive use of English. "You pullulating excrudescence of obstreperous obfuscation!" is, to me, a far more satisfying description of a frustrating bureaucrat than "F*cker!" Using big long luscious words is sheer fun, whether done as inventive cussing, comic dialogue, or purple prose.

I once wrote a parody of a certain spoken-word poetry style that uses repetition - a lot, over and over again, with a little too much redundancy. As a playful break, in the middle, I inserted:

Concupiscient corruption of conspicuous consumption
Consumptive concupiscience of corrupted conspicuousness
Corrupted consumption of conspicuous concupiscience

Playing with words again. It's addictive fun -- you can get quite giddy with it.

Exercise: Big Words

Browse the dictionary for at least twenty big, gorgeous words that you have never used before in your life, that you've never heard anybody use except maybe one very odd professor in college. They can be big like "pullulating", or small like "gules".

Now use all twenty in a fifty-word passage: comic, ranting, serious, or any mood you wish. It can be poetry or prose.

Guidelines for critique:

Critiquers should also try to use big words and sound even more ridiculous. This one is for fun.

Write On!