On my stand at Cornwall Business Fair I invited show-goers to contribute to my ‘word wall’, giving me examples of words they love or hate, words they have trouble spelling, and words that are just odd.
Superfluous, mellifluous – both words with lovely oo sounds in them.
Tmesis – one of mine, I admit, because the spelling is weird, and the meaning is great – inserting a word into another word to make a-whole-nother word – do you see what I did there??
Yummy, crumble – ‘u’ words, another nice sound. Tasty too.
Moist – and this one also appeared on the ‘hate’ wall. Clearly a Marmite word!
Gargantuan, onomatopoeia, serendipity, supersede – more big juicy words.
Zinc – and my contributor explained ‘It’s the zzz sound, don’t you just love it? ZZZinc, zzzinc!’ Alriight…
Tintinnabulation – another one of mine, meaning the tinkling of little bells. An onomatopoeic word, to borrow from another contributor!
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – of course. Got to be on this list really! The spelling was touch and go with this one.
Interestingly, supersede, mellifluous, onomatopoeia and tintinnabulation were also commented on as being hard to spell, with trip-up double letters or s sounds that might or might not be an s really – plus onomatopoeia is just a pig to spell!!
Words they hate, and phrases as well.
‘to be honest’ – well, what were you being before?
A bunch of words which appeared here because they are somewhat over-used: enable, iconic, passionate, lush, artisan.
Triteness, like ‘all you need is love’, and ‘nice’.
‘at the end of the day’ – another trite phrase which is meaningless.
As quoted by a visitor with an 11-year-old son – can’t.
Literally, as in, ‘He literally exploded with anger’ – really? Somehow I doubt it!
Grammatical errors, abbreviations in text-speak, and the mis-use of apostrophes. This sparked much discussion, vehement words on correct pluralising, and ‘its’ vs ‘it’s’.
Business-speak words which are invented and mean nothing, like ‘sector agnostic’ (which is supposed to be shorthand for ‘my company can work across any sector’ but comes across more like ‘I haven’t a clue which sector we can work in’). Also synergistic.
And finally, ‘look’ at the start of a sentence, in an attempt to make a point and sound dynamic, especially when used by politicians.
Words that are just odd
Only two turned up on the day, but I have other ideas on this subject that I’ll follow up in due course.
One of my favourites – facetious – the shortest word in English with all the vowels in the correct order
Also won’t. Think about it… ‘can’t’ is an abbreviation of ‘can not’, ‘couldn’t’ is ‘could not’, so won’t… is ‘wo not’? Or maybe not. Why is it won’t, not willn’t?
Words you can’t spell
There was a great long list of these words, more than any other section. I’m going to need to do some research into some of them, to find useful ways of remembering how to spell them, but some I’ve spoken about already, and some are individuals’ peculiar blind spots about certain words.
So, more on that later.