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What It Means To Be A Bibliophile - Parlance

This happens to anyone who reads anything at all, right ? From newspapers to classics, our parlance becomes a function of the literary content we are dealing with currently. Right now, I am downing Winds of War (Herman Wouk) , American Gods (Neil Gaiman) and Mr. Mercedes (Stephen King), and their styles of prose couldn’t be more different. I am not a huge fan of King’s lingo (I find it too flippant), and naturally, Wouk is bordering on the delightfully stodgy so yes, my normal sentences these days begin with ‘nevertheless’ and end with a ‘booya’.

There are two kinds of bibliophiles in this regard (at least in my opinion): those who stun you with their choice and economy of words, and those who wind their sentences for the sheer pleasure of being able to employ all the worlds running amok in the head (see how I did it ?!). Unless you are deliberately trying to confuse someone, being taciturn and yet effective is an amazing ability. You need a very thorough knowledge, naturally, and this works better in an educated discussion. Either way, the kind of words you use within the three- or thirty-word sentence depends on whatever you happen to be reading right then. I work as an analyst and formal business writing is like my second nature now (its not much fun). One day we saw a new bakery come up in our office neighbourhood and my colleague (a very well-read man) commented that he was glad the entity had been commercialised. What was worse was that no one really flinched in the first five seconds, and only later did we foolishly laugh at it.

I find such words from my work creeping into informal conversations, while dramatic Shakespearean phrases start making an essay out of my cold analytical reports.  Unless of course, if I have been reading The Economic Times far too much, in which case, ‘eroded’, ‘squeezed’, ‘fillip’, ’estimates’ and ‘red’ feature in nearly every sentence. The interesting part is the slangs you pick up and use. You can call a dim fellow a blundering idiot, or an asshole or well, dim. You can exclaim Oh Dear ! or What the hell ! You can agree and say yeah, or stick to the smaller yes. Does this mean it brings about a change in our personality ? To some extent, I would say. After all, literature – of any kind – is the most important aspect of culture.

What of people who are sporadic readers ? Their lingo is what their contemporaries and family employ. Bibliophiles among them – of any degree and of any preference – leave a mark on such people, either directly or indirectly. Judging historically, man learnt to speak before he learnt to scribble, though, the order is pretty muddled now. New words are coined in conversations and paper alike and its only a matter of time before spoken and written language of a generation begin to resemble each other. What creates problems are the literature of bygone days; bygone even by a few years. Like flip phones. The existence of older written works makes sure that you don’t forget words like beseech, miasma and egregious.

Above all, a healthy mix of literature helps you develop your own parlance – a personal language of sorts, which becomes your trademark, which in times of doubt, will set you apart from others.  


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