Friday, January 18, 2013

And the winner of the first HOW TO LEAD A LIFE OF CRIME giveaway is . . .

MG, who sent in this remarkable response . . .

If you must know, I'm the world's only benevolent linguistic larcenist/collector. I'd tell you my name, but you wouldn't recognize it (or even remember it after reading it), seeing as my own name was one of the first words I cataloged into my Word Bank all those years ago. It's hidden away now, behind locked doors and wild, vicious excerpts of Old English and rooms covered in razor-sharp "x"s and "k"s. Sounds a bit extreme, but I need the protection. You see, I steal letters. I steal words. I steal language.

Like every "criminal," I started out in the little league; pinching the odd adverb here, the neglected noun there. It's surprising to see how many people don't use the words available to them. They just leave them hanging around everywhere, airing out to dry on the front porch, left abandoned in the street. I once found a trash can filled to the brim with young verbs; a full can, do you believe it? Dozens of 'em. I could hardly believe my luck.

In a way, that was my first major word heist, the trash can, but I figured it wasn't really stealing if nobody wanted those poor words. Still think that way, really; the mistreatment and disuse of language has led me into some serious windfalls of the linguistic variety, although there're the odd few who manage to keep their own beautiful language alive and well. Those folks treat their words right, let me tell you, and I try never to steal from them. I don't take words for profit; I respect them. I protect them from harm.

I wouldn't call my business organized crime. It isn't organized in the strictest sense; it's more of a shelter, where people bring abused words to my attention and I or one of my associates drop by to help the word out. We have an extensive library for words looking into their genealogy; we've got easy access to the O.E.D. if one of our words doesn't want to be found. We give 'em a new name and escort them back into society, where they can start afresh, no connotations, no big connections. It's a nifty job I've got, with a good deal of respect, authority, and beautiful things surrounding me day after day.

The only part I'm ashamed to admit is the word hoarding. Now, protecting words, that's not criminal, at least not to me (although a bunch of rough-n-tumble folk out in the tougher parts of society sometimes put up a fuss, demanding I return slang and slurs back to them, and I have more than a few professors miffed with me for pulling some of their most overused words out of their classroom, and...come to think of it, a number of authors seem to be a bit touchy about my doings). But hoarding words, that's borderline criminal. I have to confess that I've taken more than a few letters completely out of languages in my time, on account of me liking 'em so much, and sometimes, a splendid word'll pop up that I just pluck it out of the crowd and slip into my Word Bank. You get people looking a mite confused at times, trying to find a word on the tip of their tongue; that's me. And perhaps I get a bit carried away sometimes when faced with those gorgeous languages. I'd tell you a few of them, but I doubt you'd know them, seeing as they're so far past dead that they're extinct in your eyes. And...well, I do love "x"s and "k"s. I snag 'em every chance I get.

That's about it about me. I am a word thief, and, since my protected name means I cannot sign this letter, I shall sign off quietly. (I'm used to silence, really. After all, my line of work leaves people speechless; I steal the words right of your mouth.)

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