A sideways look at a word… etymological discrimination

Here is another little snippet from the anthology I published at the end of last year with my fellow writers, John Watts and Richard Kefford. This is the opening of a short story from Richard; he specialises in humour, geology, science and a sideways look at the world… Here he is having a sideways look at a word…

Ghost Word

You might laugh me out of the text but I think is etymological discrimination. Just you check and see how many times little words like ‘the’ and ‘and’ get used compared to me. I understand the argument about conjunctions and articles being used a lot because they are essential to the smooth running of the prose but what about real meaning?
Now there is something that is vital to any exposition, have you seen what Elmore Leonard used to do to his novels? I never rated them myself and I think some of the readers who raved about them could be described as me; I mean, he never really even describes his characters properly and leaves out the bits that readers would skip anyway. That’s no good, novels are supposed to be hard work aren’t they?
I think my basic problem is that I was born as an adjective. Now, what is the essence of adjective? What is its function?  The humans always boast ‘I think therefore I am’. The most an adjective can say is that ‘I describe therefore I am’. This means that my existence depends on someone using me to describe something or someone else. I have no independent existence, I always have to depend on a noun being available that I can apply myself to.
Don’t get me started on nouns. Do you know how arrogant they are? ‘I am therefore I am’, they always say, relishing their independent existence. And as for gerunds, they are even worse, seeing themselves as upmarket nouns, ‘we can do the job of both nouns and verbs,’ they boast, ‘I am and do therefore I am.’ Snobs, all of them.
Yes, I’m afraid I suffer from the adjective’s perennial problem, low esteem. I have been to see my Thesaurus, Dr Roget, but she wasn’t much help.
‘You should just accept your place in the lexicon and be happy with that,’ she said. ‘You have had a good life, I know you were in the Army, the Paras wasn’t it? That gave you a chance to travel and I believe Jonathan Swift wrote all about your adventures around the world.’
‘Yes, but even he spelt my name wrong. You’d think a man of the church would go to the trouble of getting that right wouldn’t you?
I think the main cause of my problem is that I am still the only word that has been left out of an edition of the OED by mistake. They made sure I was back in the next edition but how do you think that makes me feel? What do you think I should do?’

© Richard Kefford 2018

If you want to find how Richard’s story ends, and read others by him, here is a link to our anthology:


Richard has published a variety of books on different subjects, and her is a link to his Amazon page:


… and here is a link to our blog:



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