I’ve always had a deep love of language and, in another life, would have become a linguist. While I try not to say annoying things such as, “people today have no vocabulary,” it drives me crazy that more and more words seem to be falling out of usage, and the new ones coming in to replace them just don’t have the same gravitas.
For example, while “bromance” and “selfie” are both funny, they are slang terms lacking nuance and subtlety. Two more newish words, “bitcoin” and “cyberspace” were invented because neither of those things existed in the past. Both are perfectly fine words, but don’t excite the mind such as the slightly endangered “bloviate” and “anachronistic” (which I’m neurotically convinced I’m becoming).
The loss of some words also is damaging because without a term to describe a thing, the thing itself is less substantial in the mind. For example, there’s a great Swedish word “mangata.” It means the long, wavy shape that appears across the water when the moon is shining on it. The second I read the word I could picture it exactly, but before that moment I’d never given the sight any thought.
Another beautiful, evocative word is the Japanese “komorebi.” This is defined as sunlight filtering through the leaves of trees and onto a forest floor. Again, I’m familiar with, and very appreciative of, komorebi, but now that I know the actual term, that speckled light sits a little bit differently in my mind’s eye.
There is a power in naming things. A word brings a concept into our collective consciousness and gives that idea authority that it didn’t have before.
That’s why I wish there were more words to describe the amazing effect that aquatics has on individuals, families and communities. We need a term for the pleasurable sensation of flying through the water right after you've pushed off from a pool wall, and another one specific to kids playing during family swim. I’d also like to see a single word used to describe an especially vigilant lifeguard. Finally, if moon on the water has its own word, why not sun sparkling on a pool? It’s every bit as lovely and deserving.
I often use out-of-style words as a form of protest against their slow demise. Going forward, I’ll try to invent some aquatic-related ones as well.