by Lillian Csernica on April 13, 2013
When I looked up logophilia on the Web, some rather strange links came up. It’s a simple enough word. Logos means words and philia means love. (Some people seem to want to interpret philia in a baser, kinky context, which I thought was the province of eros.) I’m not sure if every writer I know is a logophile, but I am sure that my best friends and closest colleagues love words as much as I do.
Take the word subaru, for example. To most English-speaking people, especially Americans, a Subaru is a model of car made in Japan. A closer look at the Subaru logo will reveal it as being the Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters. Subaru is the Japanese word for that constellation! When I first found this out, light exploded inside my mind. Of course the Japanese would have their own terms for the constellations. I’d just never thought about what words other countries and other cultures would use for something like a grouping of stars in the sky.
This is not to say I don’t love words in other languages besides English. Far from it. Being a writer takes you into the places where words have their hidden meanings. Where words in one language mean something very different somewhere else. Where loan-words stand out as moments of comprehension in a flow of air and sound that goes by too fast to interpret.
I love big cities, airports, major tourist sites, and summer at the beach because I can walk along and hear two, three, four, maybe even more different languages. The Romance languages are a close family. Plenty of cognates to help you find your way. Mandarin, Estonian, Finnish, Basque…. The individual words are all mysteries to me, but I still want to hear the sound track.
Words I love: Arcadia, clandestine, aubergine, tokidoki, vaquero, txotxolo.
What are some of the words you love to read and write?