Tricky English: Light up the word power!
By Dr Birbal Jha*
Let’s have a quick look at the word ‘light’ which is something that makes vision possible. It means light gives us sight to see. The use of light is not limited to the facilitator of visibility only. It is more than that. It has a lot of figurative usage. You may either delight in reading this piece, or alight from the bus of this learning journey. This is a case in point.
Can you imagine being without light? If not, let’s get enlightened on its grammatical usage and linguistic value. The word ‘light’ can be used as a noun, a verb, an adjective or an adverb.
For example, we get natural light (noun) from the sun whereas for an artificial one, we use an electric light, oil lamp, lantern or something else, to our delight and comfort of life. Hence, we light (verb) a house with electricity when it is unlit/ unlighted. As required, we turn the light on or off. Further, we light a fire when cooking something, using a lighter or a matchbox. Those in the habit of smoking usually carry a lighter to light a ciggy, though they should avoid doing such a thing.
Let’s put it in a good light. We should remain careful to eat light and go out for our daily constitutional to be lightweight. In this regard, a light (adj) dinner is more advisable than a heavy breakfast. However, I don’t subscribe to the views of those thinking that they should be as light as a feather.
Mindfully, I always eat light, wear light and travel light (adv). In addition to them, I trip the light fantastic to celebrate an occasion whether it is a festival of lights or colours. However, ‘lights, camera, action’ is a cliché in the cine parlance.
An educated talk offers me the inner light which gives me sight to understand what is right and what is wrong, and what to do and what not to do. Therefore, I never take anyone or anything lightly (adv). I don’t light into others either. I mean to say that I don’t attack others either verbally or physically. I go light on others. In other words, I treat them, delicately, gently or leniently. Don’t take it lightly. Such was a pet phrase of my teacher, who was a leading light in English training.
“Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light”, my teacher said while enlightening me on the subject. Let’s have a look at an enlightening as well as entertaining proverb, ‘A light purse makes a heavy heart’, which means: not having enough money can cause one to suffer a lot of stress, worry, and unhappiness. This is what my teacher used to cite while casting light on the use of light and how one could achieve enlightenment and wisdom. Moreover, he used to say that ‘many hands make the light work’. However, work shirkers are said to be light on their efforts but heavy on their words. Moreover, some try to steal the limelight, say; they draw the focus of attention to themselves at the expense of others.
There are a good number of idioms and phrases with the word light. You may have been in a difficulty for long but then remember that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. However, with your good work coming to light, you will be in the spotlight. Thus, your eyes will light up. Let’s look up such words and phrases in a standard dictionary. In light of a brief account of the light family above, we can sum up that word formation is central to the vocabulary-building process. I stand corrected and enlightened. Thank you so much for enlightening me. I express my gratitude to my teacher for lighting a fire under me with respect to vocabulary enrichment.
So let’s enrich our word power, by learning the derivatives of a word. Many words are derived from a root with the use of prefixes and suffixes. A prefix is added to the beginning of a root or a word whereas a suffix is affixed to the end of the stem of a word. Thus, derivatives are formed. At times, two words (for example, limelight, headlight, searchlight, lovelight, etc) are combined to make new words. Such a formation of words plays a vital role in improving our vocabulary and expressions of various ideas and thoughts whatsoever. So let’s see how many words and phrases you can find out that contain the word ‘light’.
*The writer is a noted author, accredited with having created a revolution in English training In India with the slogan ‘English for all’.