October 10: the word yay!

I am loath to pick up new turns of phrase. The word yay! for example, which I have a particular dislike for. It is not my word; I don’t know where it’s been or where it’s come from; it’s a word that just materialised and has no meaning to me, no connotations, no associations (except that I feel it defines the desperate aspiration of the user). Why would I use such a word? A word or expression needs to mean something to me. It needs to be like a worn pair of slippers moulding to the foot or an old pebble from the seaside. This is why I insist on using words I used when young. I go to the pictures not the movies. It was the word we had at home. I can, at a pinch, go to the cinema. It was the word I did at another time of life. I remembered another one of these from my distant past the other day which I mentioned a few weeks ago and now try to remember to always use. The sands, not the beach. We always used to say that. Going to the sands.

This is a kind of nostalgia, I suppose. But it’s also a desire to inhabit the words we use. What am I going to do with the windy new barn I find erected in my town that is the word yay? I can’t live there, I don’t know what you do in that building. I’m not saying I’ll never go into a new edifice, but I’ll want to know the materials used to build it and have a pretty good idea about who was financing it and how it got its planning application approved.

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