On a BBC radio program in 1948, philosopher Bertrand Russell playfully conjugated an "irregular verb" as "I am firm; you are obstinate; he is a pig-headed fool."
Russell's point was to show how words convey attitudes and feelings (that is, connotations) as well as literal meanings (denotations). When readers of the New Statesman magazine were invited to submit their own "emotional conjugations," they responded with enthusiasm (or, depending on your perspective, with gusto or idiotic fervor). Here are some of the published entries:
- I am righteously indignant; you are annoyed; he is making a fuss about nothing.
- I am a creative writer; you have a journalistic flair; he is a prosperous hack.
- I have reconsidered it; you have changed your mind; he has gone back on his word.
- I am sparkling; you are unusually talkative; he is drunk.
- I am beautiful; you have quite good features; she isn't bad-looking, if you like that type.
- I daydream; you are an escapist; he ought to see a psychiatrist.
- I have about me something of the subtle, haunting, mysterious fragrance of the Orient; you rather overdo it, dear; she stinks.
More About Word Meanings:
- The Connotative Power of Words
- Associative Meaning
- Choosing the Best Words: Denotations and Connotations
Blackboard: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Synonyms (Merriam-Webster, Inc., 1984)