Friday, October 04, 2019

Tone it down....

Our writing word for today is "tone." It might be one of the most understated words in the English language. Tone means everything, especially in language. The tone of a phrase, the tone of a meeting, something said one way, can mean the exact opposite said another way.

The tone of one's voice can turn people off, just as easily as it can turn people on. How many times have you left a speaker, because of a strident voice and how many times have we sought out a person, just to hear the rhythm and cadence of their voice. Evangelists, politicians, great speakers in general, win people to their way of thinking, not so much by what they say, but how they say it.

I'm reading a book now, Captain Corelli's Mandolin. I had trouble at first "getting into the book." It was a little dry. The setting - a greek island under Italian occupation during the second world war - was not actually what I had intended to read, but it was recommended. What hooked me on the book, though, was its tone. It is elevated. In fact, halfway through the novel, I have a list of 15 words that I have never even heard of (of which I have never heard). Here are some of them, with definitions -

opprobrium - harsh criticism or censure.
recondite - obscure
pellucid - easily understood
coruscating - brilliant or scathing
corybantic - wild, frenzied
caryatid - stone carving of a draped woman as a pillar or column

Many of the other words were related to trades or technical terms, but, since the book, uses a lot of metaphor - comparing a woman to a mandolin, for example - these would be appropriate. I have said before, I am a wordsmith. I love words either on their own or in combinations.

I can now say of the long suffering women I have met, "She was indeed caryatidic. Draped in a mantel of stony resistance, her face grey under the burden of duty, she continued to support the institution."

I'll leave - stygian - relating to the river Styx, for another day. I also love mythology!!

The picture? The best I could do for a caryatid.

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