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OG AND OOK WORDS

May 30, 2017

Bear with me while I get to the point of this article.

LET’S START WITH HEAVY METAL

It starts with of all things (big surprise here, if you know me), with heavy metal music. Lately, I’ve been exploring folk metal. I’m sick to death of the mostly harsh screaming, shouting or roaring, the “brutal just to be brutal” stuff I hear so much of on stations like Sirius XM Liquid Metal. As is often the case, a “serious” (simile intended) overdose of Metallica, is what I sometimes will hear simultaneously when I switch between metal stations if not harsh annoying vocals of the other sort. So, I’ve been browsing the CD store for specific genres of bands, trying to find new heavy music while also trying to avoid said annoying vocals.

To me, as with all music, regardless of genre, the vocals are just another instrument in the band. In most cases, I could care less about the lyrics unless they’re dirty or funny. As Frank Zappa would say, they’re just “articulated vocal noises.” That means the vocals are an important “instrument” and if they don’t sound good, I don’t care how good the rest of the band is, the vocals can ruin what may have started as a good thing.

In my browsing (through research in various sources), I ran across a Norwegian folk metal band called Lumsk. They sing entirely in Norwegian. As I said above, “articulated vocal noises,” so I could care less what the lyrics are. However, as I was browsing the band info (in English) and lyrics (in Norwegian) of their third album in the CD booklet, I noticed a lot of the word “og.” I thought it was a funny and cool word.

I looked it up and in Norwegian it means “and.”

Now, I’m also a huge fan and personal friends with the Dutch heavy metal band Picture. They sing in English and are in the classic 80’s style, which I’ve always loved (clean vocals for one). Being personal friends with the original band members on Facebook, I get lots of posts to include other friends of theirs and family and many of them are in Dutch. Amongst the often tongue-tying words, from our English speaking perspective, I’ve seen the word “ook.” Another one of those “o” words! So…I looked it up and it means “also.”

This has put my fascination with words in overdrive!

PLAYING WITH WORDS

I love to play with words. I find a great fascination and sometimes humor in words. I absolutely butcher English and Spanish, just for fun.

Why?

I’m a wordsmith. I write. I do this for a passion. I write to communicate and to do this I use words. It’s the medium with which I, as a writer, create my art, so to speak.

Since I lived overseas for fifteen years, I picked up an affinity for foreign and sometimes tongue-twisting words. In my job, I run across many foreign names but am able to spell then almost upon first look and can even pronounce many of them correctly, first off.

In my real life, I often deliberately mispronounce words juss’ cuz. However, what I can’t stand is when people mispronounce words out of ignorance. Now, if they do it deliberately, that’s a different matter, if it’s obvious. On the other hand, it’s a pet peeve, for instance when people pronounce the town I used to live in wrong. Lompoc California is pronounced “Lom-Poke” not “Lom-Pock!”

When someone mentions Incirlik, Turkey, where I was stationed in the Air Force for five years, just as often even if they’d been there, they pronounce it wrong, calling it “In-sir-lik” instead of the correct pronunciation “In-jure-lik.”

THE POINT

What this all boils down to is that as a writer, I take words seriously and have an endless fascination with them. I play with them, I make fun of them, I use them correctly and I also make them up.

I’m constantly asked where I come up with all of these weird names for characters, things places and creatures I use in my fantasy series, for instance, or even in the other genres that I write.

Well, now you know.

As a writer, it’s your job to know words, to use, manipulate and figure out how best to fit them into your stories. You need to play with them, seek them out, figure which ones are most pleasing to the eye and ear, and use them to get the most pleasure from your audience, and not annoy the reader (ring a bell from my metal tale above, anyone?).

Happy writing.

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