In The Kingdom of Letters - Shadid Ahmed

In The Kingdom of Letters - Shadid Ahmed, creative writing - try.fulfill

Everything I've ever done, in the writing world, has been to expand articulation, rather than to close it
. ~  Toni Morrison

In The Kingdom of Letters - Shadid Ahmed, creative writing - try.fulfill
In The Kingdom of Letters - Shadid Ahmed

 


Chapter 1: Playing with Words

 

I love a cold weather. Packing up my body with heavy clothing and just lay there on the bed all day like no worries in the world. I would imagine some of you do the same too. Don’t you just love it when it’s wintry? Or brumous? No I didn’t just made it up. It’s a real word. It was derived from the French word “Brumex” which originally came from the indo-eurpean word “Mreghus” which means “shortest time of the day”; hence the connection with winter. O, U and S at the end of it is just a suffix to construct the word from a noun to an adjective.

 

Adjectives are a bit funny though, aren’t they? Like the word I just described earlier, brumous is a “Collateral adjective”. Adjectives that came from a different origin point than the noun that they describe. Brumous didn’t come from the word winter or fogs and yet a foggy day can be described with it. Same with the numbers one and two. First and second cannot be called firsteth or secondth because they are collateral adjectives. 

 

There are plenty of adjectives derived directly from their nouns and pretty much all of us are familiar with them. In-fact, at certain points of our lives we were taught to make an adjective this way. Shadows can make your photos look shadowy. Muds can make things muddy. A blur effect can turn photos into blurry. Bunch of clouds can make a morning cloudy. Friends are friendly. Poets are poetic in their writings. But you cannot call a moon as moony nor is it moonly. The moon is actually “Lunar”

 

It may sound surprising but collateral adjectives are everywhere. Things related to our mouth are called “Oral”. An evening covered in darkness can be called dark or murky or even gloomy. Nouns like gloom and murk are quite common. These nouns have both: a derived and a collateral adjective. The word parent has another form for a single parent. Mothers and fathers have own form of adjectives like motherly and fatherly but there’s another. It is “Paternal” and refers to the father of the child. And a setting filled up with fogs and darkness can either be called foggy or brumous. 

 

But what are words? They also derive meaning from different articulation of our vocal sounds. Meanings that we, as a society, has put meaning into them. And as such poets can tell us how they feel about a melancholy evening with words that has certain annotation and of-course with rhyming words. Rhyming has a bit of a controversial reputation when it comes to poems and literature. Words differ from pronunciation, accent and can also be forced into a rhyme. Orange is often described as the word without any rhyme. Well, that’s not true. Yes, it can be rhymed with door-hinge but if one insists but what’s truly a perfect rhyme is a perfect-rhyme. 

 

What are perfect rhymes? It has to do with how stress works in pronunciation. Stress, in short, is the emphasis we put on certain syullables in a word. It can even be expanded upon sentences. We call it accent. This is how we speak and everyone has their own preferable stress or accent. Two native speakers can have a totally different accent than each other but not words. They differ in sentences. This is what we call local accent. What’s so controversial about rhymes is that people can use their own stress on certain syllables to make a rhyming couplet. Tick and Sick are perfect rhymes. So is pickle and tickle. They are perfectly identical in their sound pattern because the final stress after the vowel sounds “i” are identical. Not just because they are spelled the same. We can force another word to rhyme with pickle and tickle. The word “identical” is pronounced with the complete stress “i” in front of it and the rest are pronounced as den+tuh+kl. Very short stress between these syllables. However, if we want to rhyme identical with pickle and tickle, we’d have to put the stress between den and tuh so it can form the sound “i+den-tuh+kl”. If you’re a bit stressed (Pun intended. What’s a pun? All in due time) then perhaps you can agree with the notion that rhymes are controversial. 

 

So, can we make up a rhyming word for orange now? Kind of. Instead of a perfect rhyme, they are just going to be extremely obscure. In the southeast Wales there’s a hill and It just happened to rhyme with orange perfectly. It’s called Blorenge.

 

Words without a perfect rhythm are quite common actually. You may not have noticed it before but there’s a plethora of words without a perfect rhyme. So, in that regard, orange is not that special. In fact, there are about one hundred monosyllabic words without a rhyme. Single syllable words tend to rhyme the most because of their obscure place in the sentence and anyone can put a certain stress on certain words to make a rhyming couplet. However, even these words aren’t special. For instance, fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth, bulb, depth and wolf. Considering the vast amount words English language has, American linguist “Mark Liberman” has calculated that most English words don’t rhyme with anything. Monosyllabic words are lonely in their own sense but so are most of the words in any language that exists. So, maybe, they are not lonely. They cannot be a part of a couplet, yes. But They are not without their peers and most importantly they are not empty. The word empty rhymes with nothing. Nor does sandwich, penguin, chimney and of course nothing.

 

But what about identical rhymes? Well, they are much better than perfect rhymes in writing but to use it as an actual rhyming couplet can cause a hinder in writing. Identical rhymes are so perfect that at some point they become very obvious and you can’t really appreciate the merits behind the writings. So, what are they? If you take two words and their consonant sound before the complete stressed vowels are identical then you can say they are identical rhymes. Like, for instance you can rhyme gun with sun or son because they are perfect rhymes but sun and son are identical rhymes and so is gun and begun or offend and defend. Son and sun can also be called “homonyms” because they are identical rhymes and pronounced just the same like chick and cheek.

 

In etymology, scientists track the meanings and origins of words and can dispel interesting tidbits about them. Meanings are not always synonymous with words. Take the word police for example. It can both be a noun and a verb but can also be an adjective. Police police police police. A police officer teaches another police officer how to do police stuff. But say a word too many times and they become almost meaningless. Not just meaningless but with enough repetition, words start to sound like nonsensical noise. This is called “jamais vu”. It’s the effect when something familiar starts to feel like new and eerie. It’s the opposite feeling of “deja vu”.

 

I h8 writing like this btw but this sort of style has a place in literature too. You can easily decipher h8 with “hate” and btw with “by the way” because it has been part of our modern communication since the creation of internet. But to those unfamiliar with this kind of short letter-types, it must be really jarring to look at and a feeling that people back in 1903 must have felt like when they first saw the phrase “ICQ out so that I can CU have fun” in the “Woman’s Home Companion” magazine, July edition. What does it mean? Well, it’s line of a poem and it means “I seek out so that I can see you have fun”. Letters, whose names strung together can form actual meaning words, are called “Gramograms” and the use of emojis in our texts are called “Logograms

 

What’s so interesting about words is how much they can reveal our perception with reality and meaning. Phantonyms are such words. They can play tricks with your mind. They are words that appear to mean and sound like one thing but actually means a completely different one. We have all come across these words in our academic lessons. Teachers often unknowingly use these words to confuse their students in exams or classes. The term “Phantonym” was first coined by “Jack Rosenthan” back in 2009 in The New York Times magazine. He simply describes them as “

A word that looks as if it means one thing but means quite another
” like the word “Noisome”. An educated guess would be that the word is related noise and annoyance. But it’s not. It means having an extremely bad smell. However, professor “Rod Evans” at Old Dominion University has another opinion on this matter. To him, a phantonym is closely related to words that appears to have an opposite meaning but actually they don’t. Take “Inflammable” as an example. It might seem like something that can’t burned easily but it’s not. Inflammable actually means something can rapidly catch on fire.  Phantonyms in their essence are words that mislead people. They are deceptive. But not on their accord because our way of transferring meaning to a word are always patterned with grammar and rules. Rules that can subjugate or bring order to a multiple collection of words. Even then, they are not enough to infer or give meaning to a word indefinitely. 

 

Indefinite words can, however, be copyrighted but not facts. I can quote articles, poets, professors, magazine and can pull data from anywhere on the internet but facts can always be put without a copyright infringement. It’s the way I present them can be protected by the law. My puns, wordplays, the way I organize and write sections and parts of this essay can be copyrighted because they are the properties of my brain. Intellectual properties must always be protected not because you don’t to share your knowledge with anyone but because they inspire people to write stories of their own. So, they can choose a better way, find things, do things their way. A stagnant literature world would be just as boring as the real world if everyone started to copy and write like Shakespeare or Wordsworth. Even when you make mistakes. They are yours. And nobody can take away that from you. 

 

My heart breaks in every flaming night

Like summer rain it empties too

And it grows. Again. And shines Through.

Pale and dark falls beneath, my darling, at your first sight.

If you'd only knew. If you'd only let me speak.

To say how much it means to me

Your every little thing.

 

The End

 

References



  1. https://www.wordnik.com/lists/b-collateral-adjective-pairs-b
  2. http://www.questrel.com/records.html
  3. https://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1946
  4. https://atkinsbookshelf.wordpress.com/2015/11/13/what-is-a-phantonym/
  5. https://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/27/magazine/27FOB-onlanguage-t.html
  6. https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Gramogram
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymology
  8. https://en-academic.com/dic.nsf/enwiki/144301
  9. http://alchemipedia.blogspot.com/2009/09/unrhymable-english-words.html
  10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_linguistic_example_sentences
  11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_buffalo_Buffalo_buffalo_buffalo_buffalo_Buffalo_buffalo

 

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