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.

etymology

 

William Shakespeare began his comedy Twelfth Night with the line “If music be the food of love, play on!” About a century later, William Congreve opened his comedy The Mourning Bride with the equally famous line “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast” (almost always misquoted as “the savage beast”).

Music is also the food of language. Music has charms that teem our tongues, course through our pens and luminesce up on our screens.

I am often asked to be a keynote speaker. I don’t speak around to trumpet my accomplishments or blow my own horn or drum up business for my books. Rather, I come to strike the proper key and the proper note and to strike a responsive chord. A keynote speaker delivers a keynote address in which he or she develops the underlying theme of a gathering. The term keynote began as the practice of playing a note before a group, such as a cappella or barbershop, started singing. The note sounded determines the key in which the song will be performed; thus the term keynote.

Keynote is one word in a symphony of musical metaphors that sing throughout our everyday vocabulary. Many actors experience a touch of stage fright at the moment of going onstage. But, looking out across the orchestra pit, each performer must “face the music,” as I now ask you to do.

You may feel that I’m giving you a song and dance and all that jazz. You may accuse me of filling my prose with too much sax and violins. You may think me a Johnny-one-note who doesn’t know his brass from his oboe. But all I can say to that is “Fiddlesticks! I’ve got an upbeat attitude. I’m feeling fit as a fiddle, and I don’t fiddle around or play second fiddle to anybody.”

I march to the beat of a different drummer, so I’m not going to give you a second-string performance or play it by ear. Rather, I’m going to pull out all the stops and not soft-pedal any aspect of our glorious, uproarious, notorious, victorious, outrageous, contagious, courageous, tremendous, stupendous, end-over-endous English language.

Second-string originally meant a set of violin strings kept on hand in case the strings in the instrument broke. When we talk or write about someone soft-pedaling something, we are referring to the pedal on a piano that is used to mute tone. When we soft-pedal an idea, we moderate and play it down. If, on the other hand, we do the opposite and pull out all the stops, we are like an organist who pulls out all the stops, or knobs, in the organ to bring all the pipes into play.

Now it’s time for me, your unsung hero, to waltz out of here without missing a beat — not on a sour note but on a high note. Please remember that I’m not whistling Dixie, and I don’t mean to chime in and horn in on your life and harp on the subject. Sure, I’m all keyed up and jazzed up to beat the band, but I’m not here to create a cheap soap opera that draws a chorus of boos at fever pitch. In my column nobody has to pay the piper.

Look, I’m trying to orchestrate an overture to you so that we can ring in a harmonious relationship, get in tune with each other and hop on the same bandwagon. Then you’ll sing a different tune, and we can make beautiful music together.

Speaking of music, next Saturday, September 7, starting at 8 pm, at New Village Arts, 2787 State Street, in Carlsbad, I’ll be offering a benefit performance of a unique folk concert titled (not “entitled”) “Dances With Words.” All ticket revenue redounds to this wondrous theater.

For information, please call 760 433 3245. I’ll sing about the English language and harmonize with original music by my concert partner. Bill Shipper. Bill will be flying in from Memphis (without a plane) to join me on stage. I’d love to meet you at NVA.

This Thursday, September 5, starting at 2 pm, Bill and I will also perform Dances With Words at the Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center, 16780 La Gracia. To register, please call 858 756 3041.

If music be the food of love and music has charms to soothe a savage breast, we’ve got singing, we’ve got rhythm, we’ve got music. Who could ask for anything more?