Welcome to my self-indulgent location for the stories (good and bad) that I can't prevent myself from writing. All comments and criticisms welcome. I post on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lymph (#atozchallenge)

Welcome to today's post on the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. My challenge, as I have chosen to accept it, is thus: I have asked on my Facebook and Twitter accounts for people to contribute random words beginning with today's letter. From Random.org, I have selected one of these words, and will below challenge myself to connect said word to writing.

For the letter L, I received 42 suggestions. Random.org selected number 20: Lymph.


Can you imagine how I felt when this word was selected by Random.org? When I think of the word "lymph" I think "node". I'm not a sciency gal, so what was I going to do with that?

Just to be on the safe side, I went to Dictionary.com. And this is what I found (direct link to page):


[limf] Show IPA
  1. Anatomy, Physiology: a clear yellowish, slightly alkaline, coagulable fluid, containing white blood cells in a liquid resembling blood plasma, that is derived from the tissues of the body and conveyed to the bloodstream by the lymphatic vessels.
  2. Archaic: the sap of a plant.
  3. Archaic: a stream or spring of clear, pure water.
1620–30;  < Latin lympha  water (earlier *limpa; see limpid); pseudo-Greek  form, by association with nympha  < Greek nýmphē nymph

Interesting, huh?

Words are constantly changing their meanings. Well, words aren't in charge of that—people are. A case in point: COOL. During WWI, cool meant a low temperature, but not quite cold. Now? Or how about SQUARE? The antithesis of COOL, or just a parallelogram?

What I'm about to say doesn't so much apply to literary fiction as it does to genre fiction. Consider yourself warned :)

Writers need to be careful about their word choices in works which are intended to be "timeless". I'm thinking about science fiction and fantasy, mainly. Characters shouldn't be speaking jive, wondering about that square cat who stole his bread/dough/moola. Their words need to withstand the test of time.

Okay, maybe not the test of "pure water" becomes "nasty puss", but keep the slang OUT. Make the words as timeless as possible. Your readers in three generations will thank you, too.

Do you use slang in your writing? How do you make your work timeless?

I'm taking suggestions today for the letter S. Have any? Leave them below. Thanks!


Al said...

Lymph is interesting stuff.
Major part of our immune system.
I'll add a random fact, in snake bites the venom is almost always transported through the body through the lymph system NOT blood.

Slang is a horrible trap in historic writing. Thanks for the reminder.

TheyCallMeVarmit said...

Really good post with a great message within.

Elena Solodow said...

Lymph is indeed a funny word. I love making up my own slang. You know it will always be timeless if it's specific to your book.

Anonymous said...

I love the last few lines of your post. Making our writing timeless is interesting preoccupation.

But i also feel that slang gives a flavor of a time, and could be important as a sort of historiographic documentation.

Carol Riggs said...

I think "cool" is kinda timeless, but yeah, for the most part, I find it safer to make up words specific to my book. As you have done! (you know the word I'm talking about). :)

Ciara said...

Yeah, YA is challenging with the constant changing of word meanings. :) Although, my son uses Chill, which was in when I was in school.

I'm a new follower from the A-Z challenge. :)

Joanne said...

That word never meant that much to me until I got cancer...then it meant everything. Blessings, Joanne

J.L. Campbell said...

Sound advice. Slang does date work.

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