Words, words, words


I love the English language. I may have mentioned this in the past. It is complex and rich and wonderful. It can paint a thousand pictures and sing songs without music. Its grammar is unreliable and the rules of spelling even more so, and I am devoutly thankful that I don’t have to learn it as a second language.

But just occasionally it isn’t quite up to the job.

Now, before you all go leaping to its defence, I’m well aware that the fault is also with me. It’s a bad workman that blames her tools, etc, etc. Nonetheless, in this particular instance, the tools and I failed each other. Let me set the scene: the heroine accidentally walks in on her brother getting jiggy with someone. Because she has a somewhat possessive and unhealthily dependent relationship with him, she’s a tad upset. NOT – this is important – because she’s repressing incestuous ideas, but because she’s no longer the only special person in his life. She feels a betrayal of what the Ancient Greeks called agape, which is very distinct from eros.

I can’t suddenly break into Greek in the middle of a chapter. That would be weird and confusing, and totally break the flow as readers go away to look up this obscure word. But ‘love’ is nowhere near specific enough in this instance, and leaves the opportunity for interpreting the meaning as incest wide open. It’s a tricky one. I’m not sure I’ve cracked it yet.


3 responses »

  1. Could you try using words like “bond” or “devotion” or “loyalty” or “dedication” or “fidelity”? Maybe not fidelity as people with think of between couples. Um..

  2. You see, I’m not sure you need a single word. I think how she is feeling comes from already knowing how the chracter feels about her brother, through following her throughout the tale. I think perhaps it is one of the things that does not need to be spelt out, because the reader already knows?

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