Remember the song, “Words, words, words, I’m sick of words..” from “My Fair Lady,” well I’m not sick of words, but I am sick of forgetting them. I love words, I pride myself on finding just the right word to fit the meaning, yet sometimes, maybe because I’m getting older, I forget words. I forget the word that gives the precise meaning that I want to convey.
The reason I mention this is that it happened twice to me today. The first time I was writing a blog about Israel and the Iranian imbroglio (nice word that), and I could not remember the word for what constitutes the power that Israel has to prevent others from attacking it. I remembered that it started with “de”, so I literally flashed thru the computer dictionary under “de” and I found it, of course the word was “deterrence.” How convenient computers are.
Then my son sent me a sermon given by his Rabbi from his synagogue’s web site, that equated some religious and scientific terminology, for example, pointing out that biblical creation is similar to “the big bang theory.” I knew there was a word describing substituting one word for another, without adding to the meaning. I searched for but could not find this word. So I went to sleep for my afternoon “shluf,” and sure enough an hour later I woke up suddenly and the word was in my head, it was “tautology.”
So what does this mean? That the words are there, trapped in my brain’s dictionary, but it is the retrieval mechanism that has gone awry. It is permissible to use any technique to bring it back to the surface, including sleep. I suppose because it bothered me that I could not remember the word, my brain was flicking through its listings while I slept and found it and held it uppermost in my thoughts for me to find as soon as I awoke. Marvellous thing the brain, if only it didn’t (what’s that word…ah, yes) “deteriorate.”