E“E” could be for English, which is a language of elegance. In one sense, English is my third language, as it was the third language I learned, but it is my primary language now, so it is my first language.
Over the years I have come to appreciate the elegance of English–rich in shades of meaning. Roots that draw deep from other languages. A tapestry. The language of Shakespeare.
As I write the Yamabuki saga, ~1200 C. E., I gave myself a strange assignment. The people in this fable of Japan (and the mythical beings of Japanese culture) should not sound too contemporary. The farmers should not sound overly learned. This challenge, where I ended up appreciating even more the elegance of English, sent me to to the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to ask: when did this word enter the English language, and what was its origin, and how did it morph into the language we use today? It was fascinating.
Therefore, the farmers use Saxon root words. These words pretty much go back to 1200, with some going back as far as the year 900. Words I thought were “modern” turned out to be very old. Words I thought were “old,” turned out to be modern. For example lunk as in “lunkhead” has an ancient ring to it. But, the OED tells me:    

1867 Harper’s Weekly 25 May 330/2 They’re tigers, you thick-headed lunk.

To get my manuscript to work based on this decision about word roots has led me to analyze a great many of my words and turns of phrase and idioms to make sure they don’t jump across the line.
Though I hope to sell some books and give my readers a look at a female samurai who is recorded in real-world history; nevertheless I had the treat of examining every word choice and sound, taking the words back to their roots.
English is elegant indeed and the journey has been well worth it.

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0 thoughts on “"E" is for Elegance”

  1. Teaching in a French immersion school, I have had a chance to look at the elegance of language and understand what you mean about all the nuances in the English language. Enjoyed this post.

  2. Teaching in a French immersion school, I have had a chance to look at the elegance of language and understand what you mean about all the nuances in the English language. Enjoyed this post.

  3. Your process is fascinating, Kate…and a little humbling (said the English teacher). 🙂
    And I have to say that this passage made my heart speed a little at its beauty: “Over the years I have come to appreciate the elegance of English–rich in shades of meaning. Roots that draw deep from other languages. A tapestry. The language of Shakespeare.” Amen and huzzah! What a gift it is that we get to write in this language!

  4. Your process is fascinating, Kate…and a little humbling (said the English teacher). 🙂
    And I have to say that this passage made my heart speed a little at its beauty: “Over the years I have come to appreciate the elegance of English–rich in shades of meaning. Roots that draw deep from other languages. A tapestry. The language of Shakespeare.” Amen and huzzah! What a gift it is that we get to write in this language!

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