Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dr. Franken-worder

By Rhonda Rhea

Dark confession time:  I am the Dr. Frankenstein of language.

Give me a couple of words when I’m in word slicing and dicing mode and, all for my own selfish sentence-shaping desires, I will invariably shamelessly try to force them to life in some sort of brazen word-morph move. It’s called “worphing.” And okay, yes, that’s made up.

Sometimes I’ll throw in a hyphen just to mess with the minds of duteous grammarians. Sometimes I don’t even bother to do that. Can’t think of a good word for that problem spot? No prob. Presumptuously create a new one!

Mwah ha ha ha. It LIVES!

Further Frankenstein-ing, I force nouns into verbs without apology—nouning them for all they’re worth. Verbs become adjectives in the most verberific way. And worse. On any given writing day, there’s simply no telling what I might wordify.

In whatever way I may monstrously play with words, I do try to consistently remind myself of their power. It’s not so much about their origins or legitimacy, but it’s really so much more about the heart message I choose to communicate with them. Are they beneficial? Worthwhile? Encouraging? The Apostle Paul wrote often in the Bible about how we use our words. “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them,” (Ephesians 4:29, NLT).

That’s what I want. Whether I’m story-building in fiction or writing humor for a magazine or putting the finishing touches on the next Bible study, I really do want to keep my writing good and helpful. Encouraging and worthwhile. I want it to have heart. I want it to LIVE!

As writers, we know it’s true that the written word can take on a life of its own. Not necessarily in the Franken-vein, but life, for sure. I’m shooting for staying diligent enough, yet playful enough, for my words to hearten readers. Words with purpose. Even when I’m mercilessly worphing and monstering the English language.

Some will still call me a Dr. Frankenstein. Frankenworder, maybe. Me? I like to think of myself as:  The Vocabulator.

I’ll be back.

Rhonda Rhea is a humor columnist, radio personality and author of 10 books, including How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person, and her newest, Espresso Your Faith, releasing in January 2013. Her first work of fiction, Get a Grip, is also due to be released in 2013, co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Faith Rhea. Their second co-authored novel is scheduled to follow in 2014. Rhonda lives near St. Louis and is a pastor’s wife and mother of five children in their teens and twenties. You can find out more at