Imagine my surprise when I opened the book my French friend had been reading to find the word ‘loquacious’ on page two.
Why was this surprising ?
For two reasons.
The first is that the day before I had received an email from a friend in Australia suggesting that I spend some time thinking about the word garrulous, a word often considered a synonym for loquacious. The second is that, well, if a word like loquacious isn’t enough to put a foreign reader off continuing, I don’t know what is. Props to Niko for keeping on 🙂
(Just a quick aside : the book was an auto/biography called ‘A drink with Shane MacGowan’ by Victoria Mary Clarke and Shane MacGowan. As I didn’t have the opportunity to finish it I will just say it’s certainly a book worth starting. Full of surprising and exciting vocabulary, and more than that, genuine and down-to-earth narration. Shane MacGowan is an Irish character, musician, poet and general wild card. I think he might also be loquacious.)
Loquacious comes from the Latin loquac-, loquax, from loqui to speak, and is defined as chatty, communicative and wordy. It can also refer to one who speaks fluently and freely. It seems to me to be a positive thing, but I gather that this word walks a fine line between compliment and insult, able to function as either, or indeed as a neutral adjective, a simple observation of fact.
If you want comment on someone who is expressive and precise with their language, you can say they’re eloquent (which incidentally comes from the same root as loquacious – loqui), or articulate. For example, you might say that Junot Diaz is quite an eloquent speaker or that Zadie Smith is always articulate in interviews and on panels. Loquacious refers less to the quality of what you say than the fact that you say a lot.
If you want to suggest that someone talks excessively or repetitively on trivial or tiresome subjects, you can use garrulous – a person gluttonous with words, if you will. For example, if you have a dinner guest who dominates the evening with dull anecdotes and then repairs to the bathroom or a moment, you might discreetly mention their garulousness, and you can all have a quiet chortle before they return. Loquacious has a less negative spin than garrulous.
The Oxford Dictionary makes it nice and simple by defining loquacious as talkative, and garrulous as excessively talkative. Both refer to a volume of words : high and very high respectively.
Loquacious is actually quite a hip word at the moment, having been used in the Sydney Morning Herald on at least two occasions this month.
This article by Damien Murphy on March 15 describes Steven Fielding’s retreat after being ‘likened to a worm’ :
‘Family First senator and creationist identified as more stupid than an earthworm by visiting English evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, appears to have taken the classification literally and gone underground. . . Fielding, normally loquacious to a fault, sought sanctuary in Parliament all day and so avoided being questioned about his backbone or lack of one.’
In an article about Tony Abbot ‘s visit to an indigenous community in Alice Springs, Mark Davis wrote on March 1 that ‘for once the loquacious Opposition Leader appeared stumped for words as he met three elderly Aboriginal inhabitants of Hoppy’s Camp, two men and a woman making do in an open-air shelter, cooking a meal amid a few meagre possessions.’ Well, I won’t comment further on that HUGE subject here . . . we ‘ll see how things unfold over the next few months.
My point is, loquacious is hip, happening, and now. So get into it.
Be loquacious. Or if that doesn’t feel right, find someone who’s loquacious and tell them so. Spread the love.
In peace and wordliness 🙂