Doublets: Words Can Be Used for Good or Evil

alex atkins bookshelf quotations“Every word both separates and links: it depends on the writer whether it becomes wound or balm, curse or promise.”

From the essay “A Sacred Magic Can Elevate the Secular Storyteller” by Ellie Wiesel (1928-2016) included in Writers on Writing: Collected Essays from The New York Times published in 2001.

“Words, so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”

From the personal notebooks of American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864). His notes, titled Passages from the American Note-books, were published in two volumes in 1868.

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

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Words Enter the English Language Deviously

alex atkins bookshelf quotationsFor the most part our words come deviously, making their way by winding paths through the minds of generations of men, even burrowing like moles through the dark subconsciousness. Fancied likenesses, farfetched associations, ancient prejudices have acted upon them. Superstition, misapprehension, old fables, mythological taboos, the jests of simpletons and the vaunting imagination of poets have all played a part in shaping them. During their labyrinthine journeys in time and space they have often changed their form, spelling, pronunciation and, especially, their sense.

From You English Words (1962) by British author and naturalist John Moore (1907-1967). Published after WWII, his trilogy (Elmbury, Brensham Village, and The Blue Field) about the countryside was a best-seller for many years. Moore was a prolific author, having published more than 40 novels focused on mostly pastoral themes. Naturally, Moore was a passionate conservationist and warned of the negative impact of technology on rural societies. The John Moore Museum, located in his hometown of Tewkesbury, UK, was established to honor his life and work.

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by FOLLOWING or SHARING with a friend or your readers. Cheers.

Every Adventure of the Mind is an Adventure With Words

alex atkins bookshelf words“In short, every adventure of the mind is an adventure vehicled by words. Every adventure of the mind is an adventure with words; every such adventure is an adventure among words; and occasionally an adventure is an adventure of words. It is no exaggeration to say that, in every word of every language — every single word or phrase of every language, however primitive or rudimentary or frag­mentarily recorded, and whether living or dead- we discover an enlightening, sometimes a rather frightening, vignette of history; with such a term as water we find that we require a volume rather than a vignette. Sometimes the history concerned may seem to affect only an individual. But, as John Donne remarked in 1624, ‘No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;… any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.’ History is not merely individual, it is collective or social; not only national, but international; not simply terrestrial, but universal. History being recorded in words and achieved partly, sometimes predominantly, by words, it follows that he who despises or belittles or does no worse than underestimate, the value and power, the ineluctable necessity of words, despises all history and therefore despises mankind (himself perhaps excluded). He who ignores the enduring power and the history of words ignores that sole part of himself which can, after his death, influence the world outside himself, the sole part that merits a posterity.”

From Adventuring Among Words (1961) by Eric Partridge (1894-1979), British lexicographer who wrote more than 40 books on English language, specifically etymology and slang. His magnum opus was A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English first published in 1937 (the 8th edition was published in 1984).

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