Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Love of Words #1


So I had a little idea today while I was sitting in class for another type of blog post I could share with you guys on a semi-regular basis. Maybe this is because I recently re-watched the movie Akeelah and the Bee, but for now I like this idea and I'm sticking with it.

There is a reason I decided to name this blog The Written Word(s), and have the URL be worship-written-words, instead of having some sort of title that involved the words "snail mail" or "post" or something like that. Because it's not just handwritten words that I love - I love all words in general. As an English & Writing major, I come across all kinds of words on a regular basis, and occasionally I'll come across one word in particular that just resonates with me, for one reason or another.

Ergo, I've decided that whenever I happen upon a word that just stands out to me for whatever reason, I'm going to share it with you guys, and do my best to explain to you just why this word happened to stick out for me, and what it is I love about it. 

My word for today was brought up in my Victorian Lit. class when we were talking about the poetry of William Wordsworth (great name), and this is today's preferred word:

per·son·i·fi·ca·tion
[per-son-uh-fi-key-shuhn] 
noun
1. the attribution of human nature or character to animals, inanimate objects, or abstract notion, especially as a rhetorical figure.
2. the representation of a thing or abstraction in the form of a person, as in art.
3. the person or thing embodying a quality or the like; an embodiment or incarnation: He is thepersonification of tact.
4. an imaginary person or creature conceived or figured to represent a thing or abstraction.
5. the act of attributing human qualities to an animal, objector abstraction; the act of personifying:The author's personification of the farm animals made for an enchanting children's book.

Thank you Dictionary.com for the definition!

So that is the word that stuck with me today. It's not like this is the first time I've heard this word before. I'm pretty sure that the first time I began to fully understand what this word meant was in an English class either in my last year of high school or in my first year of university.

Basically, when some sort of inanimate object is described with human characteristics, that is what it means to personify something.

The example we were looking at today was a poem of Wordsworth, which talked about "dancing daffodils." You'd think I'd remember the exact name of the poem, but of course I don't at the moment, making it clear just how much attention I give to the material in lecture XD

I do like the professor for this class though. He was talking about the "dancing daffodils", and asking the class if any of us had ever actually seen a daffodil dance. Of course everybody's mind went to the metaphorical imagery, where a daffodil blowing in the wind could appear in some ways to be dancing. Of course he was looking for the literal definition of dancing: "Do you ever actually see a daffodil dancing? Do [daffodils] go to raves? Do they like techno?"


Of course this got the class laughing. Plus the professor has an accent, which just adds to whatever he chooses to say - makes things funnier, makes them sound more sincere, makes them more bittersweet, whatever he chooses to go for. Before class started he was talking to the TA about something to do with the internet, and I heard him utter the words "The Network", which just got me laughing because it reminded me instantly of the recent film The World's End, which I'm a big fan of. I almost brought it to his attention, to tell him how those two words in his accent added a pinch of delight to my day, but I decided against it.

Anyway, so he asked what this description of "dancing" did to the daffodils in this poem. And another student behind me had the answer -  it personifies them. And here is where I was reintroduced to the word.

I like the idea of an object being personified, to be given human characteristics. I'm pretty sure that a year or two ago I had to write some sort of paper about A. A. Milne's Winnie The Pooh and I had to use that word quite a bit within the assignment, but that's the last time I can really think of where I might have used that word, at least in a correct context.

My professor didn't seem to be a huge fan of personification happening in this poem, but I actually like the concept as a whole. I'm pretty sure that we personify inanimate objects, plants, even pets or other animals a lot more often than we realize. It's pretty interesting when you think about it.

At least, I find it interesting - I'm not completely sure anybody else will find this whole bit as interesting as I do. But here's hoping!

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