Sunday, November 30, 2008

Norma Loquendi

'Many terms which have now dropped out of favour will be revived, and those that are at present respectable will drop out, if usage so choose, with whom lies the decision, the judgement, and the rule of speech.'
(' . . . si volet usus,

Quem penes arbitrium est et ius et norma loquendi.')
-- Horace, Ars Poetica 1.70

Norma loquendi refers to words that are used in everyday
conversation. For the most part, that is how I choose to express myself in conversation and in print. That said, it's curious to me that I tend to use far more formal language when I am impassioned. I know for a fact that my husband has been subjected to my ranting soliloquies on many occasions. He knows better than to interrupt my thought process when I'm on a roll and sits patiently while I ramble on and on, mostly to myself, about some injustice or some act or idea which I have deemed illogical. Yeah, poor guy!

So why is it that intense emotions seem to bring out the articulate side of me? I mean, on a "normal" day I often find myself fumbling for words, tripping over pronunciations, and sounding like I barely made it past 11th grade English. All of the beautiful, multisyllabic words trapped somewhere inside waiting to be incited by a heated debate or roused by some real or perceived challenge. (If you're wondering what has set me off now... it was a religious argument on another site.)

I'm trying to trace this peculiar tendency back to a source in my past. Was it one event that caused me to bite my tongue, to downplay my vocabulary, or was it a series of events? Did I do it because I was called a snob? Did I do it for love? Or was it done during "the poetry years" so that I could be understood by the majority of my audience? I'm not certain of the reason or reasons behind the changes in my expression but at least now I'm aware of the change. Isn't admitting that you have a problem the first step towards recovery? :-)

P.S. Knowing me... I did it for love!


Faith said...

Being impassioned brings out more formal language in me too. But I have never skillfully used vocabulary the way some can. I think I was unsure of myself with words growing up. My daughter loves words and has no fear of using them. Sometimes it is hard for her teachers when reading her papers. But I hope she never stops.
That said, I do believe, that sometimes small simple words can be very powerful, especially in poetry.
What ever words you choose to use, I really like your posts! :)

Self-Proclaimed Mistress of Nothing said...

Awww... thank you! I appreciate that.

Yay for your daughter! I remember that you once mentioned how much she enjoyed reading the thesaurus. A girl after my own heart!

Blue Static said...

Eloquent ideas sometimes seem to require eloquent words. Enjoying language and using a broad vocabulary to express yourself is a positive trait in my book. And I take Kerouac's words to heart: "It ain't so much whatcha write as it's the way thatcha write it!"