A friend who dropped a chunk of my writing into IWriteLike tells me that the answer is H.G. Wells (1866-1946). The good news is that I correspond stylistically with an author of the 20th century—I wasn’t sure that I was this far along on the timeline of the English language. The fantastic news is that the answer wasn’t Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873), poet, playwright, novelist, and inspirer of the famous Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.
But, it seems only fair to Bulwer-Lytton’s literary legacy that we mention Save the Words, brought to us by a Malaysia-based subsidiary of the Oxford University Press. Here, through an addictively presented graphical interface, we can browse and rescue words whose fustian formidability could stop even the pen of a latter-day Bulwer-Lyttonian in mid-sentence.
“Every year,” we are told, “hundreds of words are dropped from the English language...today, 90% everything we write is communicated by only 7,000 words.” To correct this appalling disproportion, we are invited to “adopt” endangered words “that once led meaningful lives but now lie unused, unloved, and unwanted.”
And what words they are. Philargyrist. Jussulent. Scaevity. Agonyclite. It’s like rummaging for curios in your grandmother’s trunk—assuming that your grandmother was a Victorian bluestocking severely afflicted by logorrhea.
Save the Words asks that we perpetuate these inscrutable gems by pledging to use them in speaking and writing. So, please go to the site and find a sesquipedalian specimen to take into your heart. It will be linguistic antipelargy at its most sublime if you do. And remember, Bulwer-Lytton’s ghost will be mingent with resentment if you don’t.