Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.

 

The average person speaks at a rate of 120 to 180 words per minute. Professional newsreaders speak at around 150 wpm. Women speak an average of 7.000 to 30,000 words a day and men an average of 3,00 to 12,000 words a day. That’s because women devote more brain power to conversation, speak more rapidly and constantly have to repeat themselves to get men to pay attention and understand what they are saying.

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Neologisms (“new words”) are vivid reflections of our changing language, our culture and our social trends. As language inexorably advances into the future, don’t be left behind. Master neologisms such as alt-right, bitchface, dad bod, embiggen, farm-to-table, gene editing, hangry, lightsaber, Quiddich, sext, superfood, teachable moment and Twitter storm. Even as I write this column, these words are coming to an online dictionary near you.

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Last year, our nonpareil San Diego Zoo celebrated its centennial. The zoo’s signature animal is the white rhinoceros, but, in reality, a white rhino isn’t white. Dr. Mark Goldstein, formerly director of the Los Angeles Zoo and president and CEO of the San Diego Humane Society, explains: “The animal gets its name because it has a wide mouth, differentiating it from a black rhino, which has a very pointed prehensile mouth. It was the Dutch who first named the white rhinoceros using the Dutch word wijd, which means ‘wide’ but sounds like ‘white’.”

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Two weeks ago, I wrote about the closing, after 146 years, of the Greatest Show on Earth. Here are two poems I’ve created to express my glowing memories of the circus:

Raiders of the Lost Aardvark

All of Solomon’s processions
And Croesus’ gold and Trump’s possessions
Cannot rival half the pomp
Of animals that march and romp.

What soul among us does not thrill
To a fiery hoop and a lion’s skill,
The chittering of a monkey’s laugh,
The mottled grace of a slim giraffe?

Who can be deaf to the ponderous sound
Of pachyderms that shake the ground,
Leathery monarchs lifting high
Their trumpet trunks to canvas sky?

Who is so proud as not to feel
A secret awe before a seal
That keeps such slick and moist repose,
Spinning a ball upon its nose?

And who can forget a mighty horse
Capering through its circle course?
Who is so old that fails to heed
A lady in pink on a milk-white steed?

 

                   The Bandwagon

Now the tent grows dark, and the crowd grows hush.
Then the spotlight shines, and the space grows lush
With the cymbals’ clash and the tinkled heat,
The triangle’s ting and the snare drum’s beat,
As our hungry hearts and the empty air
Fill to the brim with a brassy blare.

Our jaws a-droop and our eyes a-light
And our cheeks ablaze at the gorgeous sight:
All golden and crimson and purple and blue —
A calliope dream that we never knew:
With the chest-deep pulse of the kettle drums,
Into the ring the bandwagon comes.

Then the wha-wha-wha of the slide trombone,
And the pitter-boink-boink of the xylophone,
And the umpa umpa umpa umps
Of tubas kissed by men with mumps,
And the twang and the wang and the whacka whacka whack
Of banjo wheels on a circus track.

Ah, the rattle and rhyme of the music’s time
Brim our hungry hearts with a song sublime!