The Million Words

The Million Words

A sestina on word use

 

There may be as many as a million words 
In English – lingua franca of the world 
Which sponge like soaks up other tongues 
And claims all new inventions as its own 
Despite this fruitful garden we still choose 
To limit the range of language that we use 
 
Is it abuse to not put into use 
The full breadth of the lexicon of words 
To slam shut the brace of Oxfords and to choose 
To constrain ourselves into a smaller world 
Do we forsake the very thing we own 
By shackling the freedom of our tongues 
 
Or is it that we fear speaking in tongues 
Turning phrases others do no use 
If we claim the rare and complex for our own 
Always ready with les mots justes, perfect words 
Do we depart from the rest of the speaking world 
Is true erudition something we can really choose? 

 

So, fearful of ridicule, we choose
To lay conforming yokes upon our tongues
Denominate ourselves low in the world
Demote to the demotic what we use
To the commonest and easiest of words
We bind the cadences of what we own

 

But what if there was more that we could own
What if we were truly free to choose
From that list of nigh a million words
Free to twist and stretch our willing tongues
Bring the forgotten and obscure back into use
To enlighten and enrapture the whole world

 

Will we deal a recumbenitiban blow to the world
As we autohagiography the expressions that we own
And manifest what could be put to use
Or,  revealed as philosophunculists by what we choose
Will we trip upon our hamartithic tongues
As we dentiloquently squeeze out words

 

The world I fear will judge by what we choose
Nor are we free to unfetter our own tongues
We will never use that million list of words

Me

Today.

 

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