Studies in Words
By C.S. Lewis
1. What was Lewis’s purpose in writing Studies in Words?
2. What is the dangerous sense of words, and what makes that sense so dangerous?
3. Why do you think Lewis chose the words he did for this book? If he were writing this book in 2011, would he have chosen the same words, or different words?
4. Lewis writes of the word ‘Simple,” that it is a word that has achieved ‘enormous popularity without acquiring a dangerous sense.’ Do you think this still holds true of the word ‘simple’ in today’s society?
5. According to the last chapter, language supposedly has two limitations: informing us about complex physical shapes and movements, and, unlike music or gesture, doing two things at once. Do you agree with this statement? Lewis also says in this chapter that the most important and effective use of language is emotional. Agree or disagree?
6. Lewis speaks of verbicide, which is the willful distortion of a word from its original meaning. What words can you think have fallen victim to verbicide? How far must a word be distorted to be considered verbicide?
7. Was there a particular chapter, section, or phrase, that you found particularly interesting?
8. What do you think is the purpose of a word?