The Words of My Grandmother

Joseph - Wayne, Illinois
Entered on October 21, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

“It is not feasible for mendicants to be indicators of preference,” my grandmother instructed me when I was scarcely in kindergarten. Sayings like these had manifold layers, embedded in the said vocabulary, each which had subtleties and characteristics all their own. My grandmother wanted me to increase my vocabulary at a brisk pace, to exponentially develop my perception of the world. As a youngster, I learned to question any word I did not comprehend, to look up any unknown word that appeared within a line of text. I became accustomed to believing in the fine and all but insignificant details of words, which generally go unnoticed by all but the scholars among us who dwell in words and bathe in their essences.

In my earlier grades, I was infamous among my peers for never spelling a word incorrectly during our periodic quizzes. When later asked by my surprised teachers what I delved into during my free time, a smile glistened upon my fresh countenance as I said in humble pride “I read the Dictionary: Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Third Edition. I like it better than American Heritage.” Needless to say, this made some teachers laugh and other stand in awe, yet responses such as these were not my motivation to achieve literary excellence.

However, at the conclusion of the third grade, my grandmother passed away. With her passing went some of my inspiration to study additional terminology, and thus my language skills dwindled. From her teachings, I had a large palate from which I could choose my lexis and express myself in a unique way.

Nonetheless, I did retain some minute interest in words after my grandmother’s death. I decided to no longer focus on commonplace words useable in the vicinity of the general populous. I commenced to research archaic and obscure words. It was something of a violent passion for a while; I brought my pocket dictionary in my right-hand pocket and my archaic dictionary in my backpack.

In truth, I still at times pull from my dusty shelves my well-worn dictionaries, tighten myself into a cat-like ball, and nestle into the sofa to read. It is by no means typical for a person to believe in the silent meanings of words, the personalities of letters, and the expressions of the written word, but I do. I believe in the vocabulary passed down to me from my grandmother.