June 26th, 2004

Reading to Dragon

What is Your Favourite Word?

I had an interesting little moment earlier today, while reading The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan. A couple of chapters in, there's a conversation with the main character, Ruth, and the man with whom she ends up living, where she asks him, "What is your favourite word?" Well, I thought that was an interesting question, so I set the book down and thought about it for a bit. And the word that came to me, honestly the *only* word that came into my head, was onomatopoeia. Okay, yes, I realise that's probably a really weird word to have as a favourite. But I've always liked it, ever since I first heard it and learned what it meant (in a 10th grade English class, IIRC). I like the way it feels in my mouth when I say it (it sounds so much prettier than it looks on the page), and I enjoy the meaning too - words that sound like the thing they describe. "Splash," "gong," "pop." I think it's funny that such a long and unusual-looking and -sounding word means something so simple, so obvious. Onomatopeoia, well . . . just *isn't.* ::grin:: Plus, I'm always a bit proud of myself for knowing what it means, as it's not exactly something heard in everyday conversation. Still, I thought to myself that was a bizarre and probably lame word to pick, and since I couldn't think of a better one, I decided to give up on the exercise and continue reading. I turned the page, and read:

She plucked at what surfaced in her mind, but they sounded trite: peace, love, happiness. And what would those words say about her? That she lacked those qualities? That she had no imagination? She considered saying onomatopoeia, a word that had enabled her to win a spelling bee in the fifth grade. But onomatopoeia was a jumble of syllables, not at all like the simple sounds it was supposed to represent. Crash, boom, bang.

::jaw drops:: How weird is that?

Not being a women who believes in coincidence, I'm assuming that this means there is some lovely message waiting for me as I read this book. I'm obviously *supposed* to be reading it right now, for some reason or another. Or I have somehow tapped into the psyche of Amy Tan, or maybe the fictional character she created. ::grin:: Funny, too, as by all rights, it should still be sitting somewhere around the mid-point of Mount TBR. The reasons I picked it up today (in favour of the stack of library books I have checked out) are that a) I wanted a book to read in the hot tub, and I don't ever take library books in with me, for obvious reasons; and b) I want to read this book sooner rather than later as I have a friend who also wants to read it. And then I had this interesting little moment. Crash, boom, bang! ::grin::

In any case, I've decided to stick with onamatopoeia as my favourite word. And I still think it's a cool question.

So, what is your favourite word, if you have one?