Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Didnt find a suitable title...Suggest me one after reading the post

My friend Gautam who follows my "anything and everything" blog asked me if there were any recent postings. Thus started our interesting conversation regarding written language and later moved on to communication.
My reason for not having any recent updates were that I was bored of using the same choice of words from my limited vocabulary. I have reached a point and I feel the need to expand my knowledge and start using more words; write with very less used words that would convey the exact meaning in a more definite way.
Writing without losing the flow is one helluva task, when one also needs to stick to the context. This balance is difficult to achieve. Most of the times, in order to keep the flow, one tends to lose the context and other times, the context remains within the defined boundary while the text remains bits and pieces of unconnected prose.
Thus, both of us started to share our thoughts...(Ignore the use of vernaculars in our conversation)

me: why use "preposterous" and make people crack the word when you can easily replace that with "absurd"
so "absurd" gets used absurd number of times
gautam: but preposterous is like more effect na... it is like to describe more serious reactions illa
but i get what you are saying
something like fragrance and redolence?
ha ha ha
i remember once i used redolence just of making it more flowery and now it seems so absurd!

True...The use of certain words while replacing a synonym does have a greater effect that a writer wants to convey. Here to bring that effect out - taking the word "fragrance" for instance.
This word definitely tingles one's senses to feel the sweet odor of fresh flowers, perfume compounded to give out a pleasant odor. Now the word "redolence" - dictionary defines it as "pungent or agreeable odor". Now that's relative. Agreeable to whom? Agreeable at what level?

What would be best to describe the odor of a flower? Is it "redolent" or "fragrant"? It depends on the flower in question. A rose emits fragrance. Well, the same cannot be told to describe the odor of Rafflesia arnoldii(the Rafflesia emits a repulsive odor, similar to that of rotting meat)

Here is the context(From Gautam's journal)

"A cool hilly westward breeze touched everything in its way with great care and the roses scudded gently as if they were involuntarily swaying and dancing to some melodious tune nature sang. Whenever I found a beautiful flower, I stopped by it to get a whiff of its fragrance. ‘Ah, what a beautiful garden, what redolence…’ I mused. I tasted dew on the roses. It was a demi-paradise of beautiful thymes."

No matter what anyone feels about this piece of text, it sure takes the person to pleasant memories, one can feel the fragrance of the roses, the dew...the pungent aromatic thyme.

So finally both agreed that some words convey meaning in a more beautiful way; even though they have simple synonyms - given the reader comprehends and feels what the writer is trying to say along the same lines with the effect.

Yeah, but how many would comprehend the meaning as the reader wants them to? We, humans stick to the things which we are used to and are comfortable with. Hence, even though there are numerous ways to describe what you want to, we generally stick to that one "trade-mark" word.

Eg. Let us take the word "awesome". I use it often. A website throws in a list of synonyms for the word "awesome"

From http://thesaurus.reference.com/browse/awesome

Main Entry: awesome
Part of Speech: adjective
Definition: amazing
Synonyms: alarming, astonishing, awe-inspiring, awful, beautiful, breathtaking, daunting, dreadful, exalted, fearful, fearsome, formidable, frantic, frightening, grand, hairy*, horrible, horrifying, imposing, impressive, intimidating, magnificent, majestic, mean, mind-blowing*, moving, nervous, overwhelming, real gone, shocking, something else, striking, stunning, stupefying, terrible, terrifying, wonderful, wondrous, zero cool
Antonyms: unamazing

So, we limit our description of our thoughts with just one word "Awesome". The one word to emote our happiness, shock, surprise, sadness, fear, disgust, excitement...........and so on.

I used to over-use the word "fine" for everything.

How are you?
I am fine.

How is it going?
Fine(with frustration)

I might be a couple of hours late.
Fine(with anger, which meant "not acceptable")

Coming to being very descriptive. Here's few more from Gautam;s journal.

"The relatively higher location of our hotel gave us a beautiful view of the lazy town below. Homes exhaling white plumes of smoke and vapor from the morning cookery through the chimneys of the brick-tiled roofs were on both sides of a narrow road, cuddling for warmth; somewhere in the middle of Western Ghats’ womb. the earth is like mother, and that place was so beautiful that it was like a small baby, cuddling and sleeping in the cool misty morning... sleeping as it had not awake yet"

LAZY town, WHITE PLUMES of smoke, BRICK-TILED roofs, NARROW road, EARTH like mother......It sure does give an idea about the place.

Now the bouncer.....

"We were now on our way to Annapoorneshwari Devasthanam. Someone somewhere sometime in Kudhremukh had mentioned to us the presence of a huge dam a few kilometers to the south and so we decided to check it out. It was the Lakhya Dam and it was one heck of a dam! It was like a planar side of a huge sloping hill with a thick layer of grass feeding the cattle that appeared as small dots to two guys, one smaller sitting on the not so small one’s shoulder, trying hard to reach an elevation that would avoid the foliage obstructing their endeavor to capture the massive structure from a distance of a few hundred meters. (Phew! That required some description or what?) The angle of the 50mm lens of the analogue camera could obviously not capture the entire setting, as we were pretty close to the dam. ‘Hard luck’, I thought as we turned our backs and drove off."

I could not help but ask Gautam what did he mean when he wrote "....a thick layer of grass feeding the cattle that appeared as small dots to two guys, one smaller sitting on the not so small one’s shoulder, trying hard to reach an elevation"

To me, it meant as if one cow was trying to sit on another cow trying to reach an elevation...
He told me that he was describing his friend who had a smaller physique than him and he was trying to help his friend sit on his shoulders so that they could capture a wider area on their camera....

The excitement to jot down each event in a very detailed manner did this trick..

Well, the flow and the context together with an eye for detail has resulted in this unique masterpiece.


  1. Ha ha ha... What a comedy... Ha ha ha... Super post! By the way,

    "the earth is like mother, and that place was so beautiful that it was like a small baby, cuddling and sleeping in the cool misty morning... sleeping as it had not awake yet"

    was the explanation for why i used, western ghats womb. :-p

  2. Thanks Gautam. Maybe yes, that was the reason...you must say

  3. very useful read. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did any one hear that some chinese hacker had busted twitter yesterday again.


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