Friday, December 19, 2008

The word most electric is an unexpected verb

Roy H. Williams suggests that verbs are magic words because they "kick open the door to Broca's area of the brain, that portal to conscious awareness." In other words, verbs spark off mental activity. Williams says that the Broca's area of the brain is put to sleep by predictability. Unexpected verbs, however, are guaranteed to intrigue. Williams cites an episode of The Simpsons:
When Lisa'a schoolteacher hears the town motto, "A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man," she mentions she'd never heard the word embiggens before moving to Springfield. Another teacher replies, "I don't know why; it's a perfectly cromulent word." Later in the episode, while talking about Homer's audition for the role of town crier, Principal Skinner states, "He's embiggened that role with his cromulent performance."
Williams calls making up one's own attention-getting words "Suessing." He offers several examples of Seussing:
Use a noun as a verb: "Just Harley-Davidson your way to the head of the line."

Use a verb as noun: "If you can't deliver dazzle, I'll settle for twinkle."

Use a modifier as a verb: "He's planning to slippery his way through the press conference."

Use a verb as a modifier: "It's a kicking shade of pink."

Use a modifier as a noun: "I'm on the road to lethargic."

Use a noun as a modifier: "Now don't get all Brokeback Mountain on me."
See the full article here.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Excellent advice for anyone who strings words together!