During my first tea-break today, I was saying to a friend that although I have a fairly wide vocabulary, which I rely on heavily in my work, I actually don’t make use of it in everyday speech. I tend to use the same words again and again, mainly out of habit, and this has an impact on the precision and the richness of what I say. Further on in the conversation, he used a word that I had never heard before, and which exemplifies perfectly what I was trying to say. We were talking about works of art which have resonated with us in the past, and as he is a big fan of Shakespeare’s, he said that the quote
To thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
was particularly apposite because as a parent, a husband and a friend, there are so many demands on him that following a simple rule like this gives him a guiding light.
"Apposite" immediately struck me as a lovely word, and although it is a direct synonym of "pertinent", "apt", "well-adapted", etc., somehow the fact that it is not widely used added depth to its meaning and made what my friend said particularly powerful and resonant. I also instinctively recognised the Latin origin of apposite (ad- "near" + ponere "to place"), which makes it quite a visual word: this quote is put right next to him, accompanying him and helping him out along the way. I think that being lazy with language, relying too much on familiar words can have an adverse impact on the conversion of our thoughts and emotions into language, and may even lead to an erosion of who we really are.
Or am I in too reflective a mood today?