I went out for an after school snack with a group of my new classmates the other night. My favourite restaurant is 9 minutes from the building our class is in. (I timed it! LOL. In the three weeks I’ve had Japanese class, I’ve gone there each time.) Two of the TAs came too. One of them is doing an international exchange program which has her focusing on research into Old English. The conversation bounced around from English and Japanese and linguistics and all kinds of fascinating things.
You already know I love Japanese (if you’ve read anything else on this blog) and I’ve mentioned that I love (English) words and stuff before too. Basically, I am just fascinated by the study of linguistics and communication in a broad sense. English, Japanese and Chinese are really the only ones I’ve studied though so maybe that’s why they are my favourites. …And I’m rambling. Anyway~
She said she had been trying for the last two weeks to come up with an explanation of the difference between crispy and crunchy to no avail and thought she’d ask the group of us what we thought. For the most part, we all agreed that something crispy would be more delicate in texture than something that was considered crunchy. Crunchy means bigger flakes. A few of them decided that crunchy also had a negative idea. I don’t entirely agree with that but it can. We also noted that it didn’t necessarily mean that either had to have ‘chunks’ of any size. An apple can be crunchy. So then it was thought that crunch had to do with sound but crisp was designated only by texture.
Absolutely fascinating. And to me, somewhat …. exciting? Endearing? (I had the word I wanted, but I’ve lost it. LOL. Thrilling, I think.) It’s indicative of what I love most about the English language. We could never completely agree on the subtle differences between words that are so similar. English has sooooo many examples of that. There are many words to express the same thing. (It must be extremely daunting to learn English as a second language!) You can dig through multitudes of words to choose one that means precisely what you want it to. BUT also, connotation is personal. The exact meaning you attach to a word might be slightly different (or in some cases, completely different) than the next person. It’s based on your feelings and experiences. Just like sensing colour is going to be different to each person – blue makes me happy but might make other people sad, for example – the same is true of words.
I recently asked my group of friends what their most hated words are. I’ll have to go back and find that sometime because it was amusing. But of course, we all had different choices and most of us felt quite strongly about why we disliked a particular word, all based on our own frame of reference.