Definition

One must make a distinction however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not poetry, nor till the autocrats among us can be “literalists of the imagination”—above insolence and triviality and can present for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them, shall we have it.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Words Count With Mama Zen


Greetings, Toads!

Today, we're going to get conservative . . . with our words.  A recent study by British researchers identified 23 "ultraconserved words" that have remained relatively unchanged since the Ice Age.  All of those 23 are cognates (words that have the same meaning and sound in different languages) in at least four of the seven Eurasiatic language families.  Translation: that's the 700 languages spoken from the British Isles to western China and from the Arctic to Southern India.  Though many researchers remain skeptical, this seems to be compelling evidence of a 15,000 year old mother tongue.

So, want to do a little writing in the mother tongue?  Pick a few words from the "ultraconserved words" list and write a poem of 60 words or less.

Here's the list:

thou
I
not
that
we
to give
who
this
what
man / male
ye
old
mother
to hear
hand
fire
to pull
black
to flow
bark
ashes
to spit
worm

As you can see, some of the words are pretty boring.  Still, if they were good enough for the cave women . . .

Have fun!

15 comments:

hedgewitch said...

I wrote this in about ten seconds, fiddled with it a bit and got exactly sixty words--okay, I admit I used almost every single one in the list, which helped. ;_) Had lots of fun with this one, MZ--and an interesting bit of info on words, always good to know. Thanks for the challenge.

Fireblossom said...

If it was good enough for cavewomen, it is good enough for me!

Kerry O'Connor said...

Such an interesting list of common words and phrases. I learned something new today. Thanks, MZ.

Susan said...

I couldn't resist. Left out all of the Quaker plain speech, though.

Mama Zen said...

I really love what I've read so far. You guys are crushing this!

Margaret said...

Really difficult to write an uplifting poem with those words... just wasn't in the mood for anything else as we recently came back from a day trip in the mountains.

Hannah said...

So interesting!! I love the idea of a true Mother tongue! I tried to use as few extras as possible...just for fun. Thank you, Mama Zen!

Sweeper of Dreams said...

oooh, what a fantastic prompt. the resulting poem also hit me immediately, but i kept tweaking it since it fit nicely with a painting i finished recently. cheers!

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

An intriguing prompt. I used nearly all the words. As for what I came up with — I know what I meant, but I'm not sure how intelligible it might be to anyone else. However, all attempts to make it clearer changed the tone in a way that didn't feel right.

Gail said...

Thanks, Mama Zen, this was fun and challenging.

grapeling said...

politically themed - if one considers 'let people be' a political statement ~

welshstream said...

Just a wonderful prompt. I'm finding that for some reason I can't post on some who are using Blogger (I use Wordpress) but, frustratingly, not on other Blogger sites. Just doesn't take the comment for some reason ~ anyone know why?

A Cuban In London said...

I think "mother" will carry on for another thousand years. :-)

Greetings from London.

rhymeswithbug said...

Stared at that list for quite a while until a thought appeared - then it was too long! Had to snip a word here and a word there.
Thanks for the challenge.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

My apologies Mama zen.. had to pass.. it was way out of my league!!

Lots of love,
Sanaa