First off, I’m sorry if I gave you a Monty Python earworm with the title. Actually no, I’m not sorry since the lumberjack song is one of my favourite Monty Python songs and if you haven’t heard it you need to go and click on the link right now. Go ahead, I’ll wait. It isn’t a long song but it’s seriously catchy and never fails to make me smile. Secondly, if the title of this post made you run for a dictionary (physical or online – I’m not too picky) to look up logophile and you returned with a smile, you just might be a logophile too.
It’s not like I’m new to the word nerd scene. For as long as I can remember I’ve loved reading and learning new words. As a kid I had what basically amounted to almost a book a day habit that I just couldn’t break. I’d read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I’d read in bed before I got up in the morning, I’d read through breakfast (which got me in trouble more than once), I’d read on the bus ride to school, I’d read in any spare moment in class, I’d read at recess, I’d read on the way home from school on the bus, I’d read after school, I was not allowed to read at dinner but I’d occasionally sneak a book under the table and read anyway, I read in the bath until I dropped one book too many in the bath causing panic, and I’d read in bed – usually under the covers with a flashlight because I was supposed to be sleeping.
My parents encouraged my love of reading – and let me read pretty much whatever I wanted as long as it wasn’t wildly inappropriate for my age. They also weren’t too concerned when I went through a phase when I all wanted to read were Archie comics and Babysitters Club books. Mum did ask that for every 4 Babysitters Club or Archies I read, I read something with a little more substance. I think this was more out of fear that I’d get stuck in a stylistic rut than anything else though. I had friends whose parents wouldn’t let them read certain books and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that those friends aren’t big readers today.
I was really lucky in that I had some great elementary school teachers who didn’t question my odd reading habits or that I brought a different book almost every day. Some stuck up for me or had a word with the librarian when I was told I needed to stay in the “primary section” of the library even though I was reading Bobbsey Twins books by the time I entered kindergarten and had no desire to go back to reading non-chapter books. (They just wouldn’t have lasted long enough to make it worth it for me).
I had a few teachers in elementary school who had classroom rules that helped make me the word nerd I am today. Both of these teachers refused to give definitions of words and instead sent us to look it up in the dictionary. I can still remember the excitement of coming across a word I hadn’t read before and going over to the big red dictionary and looking it up. I’d write the word down and try to use it in the next few days so that it would get stuck in my memory and be mine forever. I think if the teachers had just told us the definition of words we didn’t know, it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as much fun for me to go and seek out the meaning of the new words myself. I still keep a word book, and when I come across a word I don’t know or one that I recognize but can’t quite remember the meaning of I write the word and a basic definition of it down in it. As the years have gone by, my choice of notebook and pen have become more refined -I use a Moleskine notebook (14cm x 9cm) and whatever my favourite pen of the moment is (currently it’s the Faber-Castell Grip Finepen 0.4mm) – but my love of encountering new words hasn’t diminished at all. I’m still the logophile I always was – and I hope that I continue to love words for the rest of my life. Logophile has a fairly simple etymology, and as a bit of a change is pure Greek in origin. The word is a combination of logos, meaning speech or words, and the suffix phile which means friend or lover of.
Logophile (logo·phile) noun
A lover of words