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Dictionary Daily: “Levin”

I don’t know about you, but I’m assuming that if you’re reading this blog, you’re either a fellow writer or a reader interested in the writing process. Or just a friend of mine, in which case, I thank you for the support. Either way, while doing some research on Cormac McCarthy, I came upon some interesting information about how he wrote Blood Meridian. In order to make his work seem more timeless, in addition to using Biblical language and an Omniscient narrator, he also made frequent use of archaic words. I found this interesting, partly because the range of knowledge I have about archaic words is pretty much limited to my reading of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner–though I have to say, that’s still pretty good. Anyway, after reading about McCarthy, I decided to see if I could find a dictionary of archaic words or something like that on Amazon (yes, I’m ashamed). Crazy thing: there is no dictionary of archaic words. How crazy is that? Online there are quite a few lists, but nothing to rival the same format that the OED or Webster’s has. It makes me kind of sad that we don’t have anything to chart those old word-forms and how they may have evolved to the words we currently know those old words as.  After this Wallace-esque aside to start out this post, the word of the day is:

levin – n. – archaic – lightning.

How bad ass is this word! This isn’t just the lightning caused by a spark in the air or anything like that. This is the lightning forged in Hephaestus’ forge and used by Zeus, lightning created by Thor’s hammer! I love the brevity caused by the word. Ostensibly the word has the same amount of syllables, but just the look of the word lends itself to a much different context than the current form of “lightning.” I’ll definitely be finding a place in my work for this word at some point. I think the reason I’m becoming fascinated with archaic words and their forms is because as a writer, I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to make my writing sound fresh and inventive and–in a word–original. Since I’m guessing that the person reading this is a writer, I’m going to ask, how many times have you read your own writing (maybe even a single sentence) and listened for clunkiness, muddled wording and syntax, wordiness, or just cliched writing? Exactly. We continually look for new ways to improve our writing, to communicate, to express what we need to express in the way we have been blessed by whatever power there is.

The pursuit of originality. I think this is actually what people mention when they talk about being pretentious. Readers see our attempts at genius, originality sometimes as being too full of ourselves, too focused on our talents, how we are seen by our readers.  I think I’ll be discussing this in my next blog post. Look for it!

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