The words we use

Words are the building blocks every writer uses to create stories, novels, poems, articles and many other forms of the written word. Like most writers, words and how to use them fascinate me.

In recent years one use of words has intrigued me more than most: signs. I’ve actually taken quite a few photos of signs. Some amuse me, some intrigue me and others frustrate me. One that amused me was above a restaurant in Kathmandu a few years ago. It was called the “Sweet Memorize Restaurant”. I guess that they didn’t have a printed menu and that customers had to commit to memory all the various dishes – or perhaps it was just the list of desserts and other sweets that one had to commit to memory.

Another shop sign that annoys me every time I drive past it near my home announces “Gwenny’s Emporium.” Mmm… it’s a tin shed for goodness sake! The word “emporium” indicates a wide range of goods for sale and so it is relatively accurate. I my mind, however, I have the impression that the word also implies a grandiose, magnificent building. There’s nothing in the basic meaning that indicates that it has to be such a building, but all the same, that’s the image I have in my mind. A shed simply does not cut it in my opinion.

As writers we need to be constantly on the alert about the ways we use words. We usually don’t have the chance to explain to the reader exactly what we mean. Misunderstandings do happen. We should strive to be as accurate and as unambiguous as possible.

Good writing.




2 Responses to “The words we use”

  1. Anita Silverman says:

    I too drive past this business you refer to as Gwenny’s Emporium and I am also familiar with the preconceived image you won’t allow yourself to shake when thinking of an emporium.Something grandiose you stated was what you expected….. Well I smile each time I think of the clever and accurate name in all senses of the word, and I often wonder if some of those customers who are not as fortunate as you are,truly believe they have found something grandiose when they discover behind that tin shed facade they can afford to buy bedding to raise them from their floors, a table to put their food and a couch to rest their weariness at an affordable and unassuming price. Surely they have found a haven…. But don’t call your business haven either,Gwenny because some people have a very small mind and their snobbery encourages them to use it.

  2. martina says:

    by definition an emporium is a place where goods are bought & sold such as a market place… where the hell do u get the idea of grandeur from that other than the word ’emporium’ has a grand feeling? and apart from your ridiculous comments about Gwenny’s Emporium (which by the way is a wonderful establishment run by an extremely gracious & caring woman)this ‘shed’ is exactly what an emporium (by definition) is all about. It’s not ‘relatively accurate’ it is Accurate – a place where goods are bought & sold! Have you actually been inside this ‘tin shed’? Do you have any idea of the quality & regard Gwenny actually has for her business? Perhaps you’re too hung up on the words that cause you consternation and need to look outside of your word smith box.. It’s a thought you may wish to ponder…