One of the questions that linguistics has failed for the most part to answer is so simple a child could come up with it: where do words come from? Occasional specific neologisms aside, we generally don’t know.
Sure, etymologists have traced no few back through the generations, but their ultimate origins escape our collective grasp—for the signal is faint, distorted, or entirely lost—though even their mere echos stir something in the lexicographic cockles of our hearts.
Ours is an incredible shrinking world made small and intimate by words which—like jokes and legends—spring to life seemingly without source, yet cross leagues in a moment and millennia on a page, all driven by our collective need to tell stories, to share what dreams may come to us, to tickle our own and others’ sense of humor—to contact, convey, and connect. It is a world full of words, and thus full of splendor.
But not for James S. Pasto’s protagonist in “The Splendid Words”—he is a man obsessed, driven by a hunger and thirst to uncover—he knows not what! Through “seven years, three jobs, two marriages” and more, far past reason, he has hunted and hated, been haunted and humiliated.
Now his search has borne fruit and you, dear reader, may join him in the tasting, to discover whether it is bitter or sweet. Read on!