Finding the Right Words


Daylight was fading as he wandered the unending streets of Word City alone.  He didn’t want to go home.  He lived alone in a cheap one room apartment on the seventeenth floor of a decaying tenement high rise.  The thought of spending another night alone there with no heat or electricity, waiting for the phone to ring, depressed him too much.  He didn’t want to fall asleep again to the sounds of sirens blaring and glass breaking.  Instead, Idiolectal kept walking.  From the park he could see the brilliant high rises and architectural wonders of the east side, where the rich and powerful, the commonly used words, lived and exercised their power.   Words everybody knew and used, like it, this, be, from and they, lived in these towers, behind gated walls, and basked in their importance, knowing how indispensable they were to anyone trying to put together even  a few sentences.

Idiolectal could only imagine what it must have felt like to be that self confident, to be that important.  The best he could hope for were the end of college semesters, when students in linguistic classes had to finish term papers.  He could count on being used a handful of times, and for the week before finals, he was actually able to eat moderately well.

He felt the scorn, the superiority with which nouns and verbs looked down on him with.  He was merely an adjective, and a very specific one at that, A few adjectives, like good and new, had gained acceptance in the main stream and crossed over, and lived quite comfortably.  But the majority of adjectives still struggled to be taken seriously.  Only adverbs, crude and uneducated, occupied a lower rung on the word social latter.  Some adverbs embraced and exploited their vulgarity and made a decent living on the poorly written papers of sophomoric students or the messy novels of novice writers, but they were unable to crack the old world high society of long established verbs and nouns.

Night had fallen on Word City.  Idiolectal walked the streets, hunger gnawing at him.  He reached into his pocket and felt his last two dollar bills.  He could get a candy bar, or a small bag of chips, that would have to hold him until someone wrote him into a story or an essay or whatever, he didn’t care, he just needed work.  Stepping into the convenience store, he almost tripped over the bulk of another word, laying there passed out in the doorway.   The form rolled over to reveal itself, and, to Idiolectal’s surprise, a noun, a female noun lay looking up at him.  She was beautiful, even in her rags, and Idiolectal instantly fell in love.

Her name was Ostinato, and like Idiolectal, she suffered the poverty of neglect.  The two shared a common misery and began an intense romance. Ostinato told Idiolectal all of her  secrets, how she was defined as “a musical figure repeated persistently at the same pitch throughout a composition.”  Idiolectal told her how he was  “the language or speech pattern of one individual at a particular period of his life.”  They shared sound in common, and Idiolectal explained how, being born an adjective, he was destined to enhance a noun.

They married in the spring.  Nine months later Ostinato gave birth to a child, a preposition they named With.  With became wildly successful and made a fortune for the small family.  Together, the three words lived happily ever after.

The moral of the story:  anything is possible with love.

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