I am a logophile and I admit it

Brenda Cannon HenleyBy Brenda Cannon Henley
I loved words even before I could pronounce most of them. Older folks in my family tell that they could usually find me with a book in my hand and two or three more scattered around my little wooden rocking chair that my Papa Cole bought for me. I would look at the pictures in the book and try to match up the letters with the object I was seeing on the page. Sometimes, it worked, and sometimes, all it amounted to was a good guess.

It would be many years before I actually learned what a “logophile” is, and the word is not yet common enough to appear in most dictionaries. Logophile comes from two Greek roots, “logos,” meaning “speech, word, reason,” and “philos” meaning “dear and friendly.” These Greek meanings have roots that have also played a part in more common English words. “Logos” is part of the history of the words, “analogous, apology, and logic.” And, “philos” gave us the noun combining “form and phile,” meaning “someone who likes something very much.”

Pablo Picasso said, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” “There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.” Laurell K. Hamilton. “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” Muhammad Ali. Hermann Hessee is often quoted, “Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.” “If you want to conquer fear, don’t go home and think about it. Go out and get busy,” said Dale Carnegie. These are but a small percentage of the quotes that have crossed my desk this week.

Most of us are aware that we speak from our hearts. The Bible says in Luke 6:45 that “Out of the abundance of the heart does the mouth speak.” I have written many times over the years that we must be very careful what we allow to go into our hearts, for whatever is stored in there, will likely come out at an inopportune moment, and our words can be hurtful or even deadly to others. Once they are spoken, they are very difficult to reclaim.

An honest mistake led to an embarrassing turn of events about two years ago for me personally. I met this vibrant, beautiful young mother who can sing like a mockingbird. In fact her entire family is very musical, and they often sing at various local venues, churches, and special occasions. I liked her immediately and planned on becoming good friends with both Trish, her sister, and her beautiful mom. She is not only talented; she is funny and could have a one-woman comedy show on any stage in America. She loves playing practical jokes on family and friends. I remember one holiday when she was to bake a cake for a family gathering. She teased the relatives saying she did not know how to bake, much less ice a cake, and said she would likely have to go to the local bakery and buy one already made.

For the record, she does know how to cook and how to bake, but she had a plan. I believe it was a coconut cake she was to take to the gathering. She took a fresh roll of toilet tissue and firmly placed it in the center of the beautiful glass cake plate, cut out circles of the cake so that the remainder would fit around the roll. She very carefully iced the cake and took it with pride to the dinner. She handed it off to the aunt who was hosting and everyone was mingling and having fun. When the desserts were offered, she watched from a safe distance as her aunt attempted to cut and serve the beautiful cake. The aunt sawed and sawed and could not cut through the toilet paper and the roll. Not wanting to embarrass Trish, she quietly took the cake into the kitchen and dismantled it and discovered the problem. The family broke into hearty laughter and the prank has never been forgotten.

I was writing Trish asking a favor about a memorial service and it was late at night. I was tired and wanted to go to sleep. (This is before I learned how to turn off autocorrect on my computer). I typed my note, read through it once and hit send. She called the next morning and wanted to know if I thought I would have gotten a better response had I not referred to her as “Trash” all the way through my note. The program did not recognize the shortened version of Patricia, and instead, changed her name to Trash. We have laughed about that for years, and thank God, she can take a joke, as well as give them out to others.

Let’s think about our words, how we use them, when we use them, and how they affect others. The quote that got me thinking about this subject came in my mail this week. It simply said, “Have you ever thought that every book you have ever read is comprised of the same 26 letters used over and over?” I had not.

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788, or


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