funkadelic!!, and a collection of other words and phrases I love to say, pen and ink on graph paper, doodle © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.
When I was in high school there was this guy, John Armijo, who had big stretchy lips, white Chiclets for teeth, and a clown smile. He wore his hair ala Vip’s Big Boy, and he talked like a Valley Girl, except masculine.
He made up a word—funkadelic—which he used the way others might say cool.
“Hey, Charles Castillo is having a party this Friday night.”
And there was the way he said it. Funk-a-DELLL-LICK. Emphasis on the DEL with a stretching out of the L, then a slow transition into LICK. Before long, John’s word became part of the lexicon of our entire group of friends.
But more important, hearing John say funkadelic was the first time it hit me that I love the way some words sound. I like how they form in my lips, how they make my tongue touch the roof of my mouth, and how my voice lingers over certain syllables.
That word—funkadelic—had all sorts of word-love associations in my mind, none of which you might expect. Funkadelic made me think of Helsinki made me think of melanoma made me think of lucidity. Something about the way the mouth and tongue and lips worked together got me going in a ribbon of sound and shape.
I will go out of my way to say certain words and phrases. Take the name of that famous discount clothing store, the one where you have to pore through racks to find designer brands in the right color and size. Ross Dress for Less.
I love that place, will frequent it instead of Marshalls all because I have bonded with the name. Never plain ol’ Ross, but Ross Dress for Less. (I was in there the other day looking at trench coats for a Halloween costume and I noticed an abundance of home furnishings. God forbid there’s a name change on the horizon; it just wouldn’t be the same.)
I realize my love of the way certain words sound must have begun long ago, when my brain was still forming synapses (there’s one I enjoy saying). I think back to words of my youth—Piggly Wiggly, Gilligan, Ellie Mae. I can see the dotted line to funkadelic and why whenever I see one of my co-workers, I go out of my way to say her name. Nellie.
When Dee was little, everything she ate she had to dip into sauce—ketchup, salad dressing, barbeque sauce. This led Jim and me to coin the term dippin’ sauce, which ten years later is still one of my favorite things to say.
“Dippin’ sauce with those artichokes?”
There are words I start out not liking that later grow on me. Gasamat. Once a word enters that special place between my cheek and gums, I tend to use it as much as I possibly can. Gasamat, Gasamat, Gasamat.
The newly coined staycation was a real annoyance when I first heard it this summer, yet lately I notice it’s growing on me. I think even if the price of gas plummets and airline travel becomes incredibly cheap, I will nonetheless take nothing but staycations for the rest of my days.
Webinar is another word I thought was dumb, and yet I seem to be growing fonder of that one by the day. I might even consider hosting a webinar just so I can say it few hundred times. Who know? Maybe I’ll do four webinars in a week and call it a weborama.
Even when I disapprove of the meaning of a word, what it stands for, I can still like the way it sounds. Robocall, for example.
I’ve decided to start a list of words I love to say. It’s kind of anemic (hmmm, I might consider that one) but I plan to add to it over time. (I also considered making a list of words I didn’t like to say but realized those had less to do with the structure and sound of the word itself and more to do with words being over-used and/or not terribly meaningful.)
Feel free to add words for which you hold a special fondness. Together we can celebrate the joy of vocabulary—in all its funkadelic-ness.
Of all the Words I’ve Loved Before…
Ross Dress for Less
sassy (pronounced sas-seh)
cauliflower (pronounced collie-flower)
Blas (a man’s name)