Are you hungry?

Cristian Ispir
2 min readAug 22, 2022
A famished initial letter in a 12th-century manuscript, BnF MS Latin 116, 2, f.57v via @GallicaBnF and
@red_loeb, with my thanks.

I’m not a herbivore, carnivore, omnivore. Or even an avivore, eater of birds, like the medieval initial above.

I am glossophage. I eat words. I devour them. For the better or for worse. I eat them too quickly, too soon, too slowly, too late, and I find myself chewing them, before gulping them down in syntactical strings. It’s an activity that doesn’t stop. My digestive system has been designed for it. I’m fed more and more words each day. The phagia which I’m intrexicably afflicted by prompts me to seek new words, like the one I coined above, in paltry metal, glossophagia, faux-Greek, tongue-in-cheek, the same cheek where more words are waiting to become my quotidian cud.

To say that I always know the taste of the words I bite would be untrue. I never wait for the end of the sentence. In questionable punctuation, I leap, not knowing what lies on the other side, the void of a hiatus or the tender slide of an elision.

I don’t concern myself with paragraphs, I devour them all with a gaping mouth, line after line. I don’t stop to breathe or to lick my lips, I move to the next page, and so on until my appetite has been placated.

I prefer capital letters, for they were there first.l, historically speaking. Minuscules get stuck in my teeth, and I’ve ruined too many styli picking my teeth. In the end, all letters are born equal, but some are tastier than others. I know beggars can’t be choosers, and I content myself with whatever the page throws at me. I have my preferences, naturally, but I am not a snob: anything is good enough for me, as long as all the i’s have been dotted and the t’s have been crossed.