[LMB] bemused by bemused

Bill Welch moremoth at gmail.com
Fri Sep 4 10:17:55 BST 2015

What do words mean?  A writer will probably prefer a practical answer to
that question.  You could look at several possibilities.

- What most people think they mean.

- What the writer's intended readership think they mean.

- What the writer's actual readership think they mean.

A writer will also take into account the general impression she wishes to
make on her intended and actual readerships.  For example, some writers use
words they must be sure most people will have to look up.  (I came across
"disembogueing" recently, lovely but unfamiliar.)  Some carefully avoid
such words.  Does the writer want the piece of work to sound exotic, or
ordinary?  Does she want people to think she, the author, is unusually
intelligent, or just one of the crowd?  The intended meaning of a word
might alter accordingly.  And a writer might use words that are familiar to
a particular in-group, and have a specific meaning to them.   All this
changes again when it is a character speaking.

The words being quoted here as Bujoldisms, "twigs" and "trod," as well as
this use of "bemused," seem perfectly ordinary and correct to me, but I am
English.  (And I always thought "raddled" meant the same as "broken down by
age and sex.")


On 4 September 2015 at 07:31, Lois McMaster Bujold <lbujold at myinfmail.com>

> [LMB] bemused by bemused
> mmjustus at mmjustus.com mmjustus at mmjustus.com
> Fri Sep 4 07:04:07 BST 2015
> Micki:  I feel this is one of your signature words. The other one that
> springs to
> mind is
> when someone "twigs" (finally understands, has that large clue-brick drop)
> to
> something. It flavors your writing, and I'd miss it if you went strictly
> for
> first-definition words.
> Megaera: My favorite Bujoldism is "trod."  I would miss it very much if
> Lois quit
> using it.
> LMB:  (snip)  The trouble with some net grammarians is that they manage to
> make themselves sound so right and convincing (and offended), that I
> sometimes begin to doubt myself.  This is not helped by sometimes having
> been positively wrong myself (see: raddled, which does not mean diseased,
> but should.  I suppose I was conflating it with "riddled".)
> Although it would make sense that members of this chat list are least
> likely to be among the offended.
> Words, words, words...
> Ta, L.
> --
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