Nick Sharratt’s favourite word
Illustrator and author Nick Sharratt is known worldwide for his much-loved work creating and illustrating books for children (and their parents!). Having loved drawing for as long as he can remember, Nick has now illustrated over 250 books both of his own creation and in collaboration with fellow children’s authors – perhaps most famously with Dame Jacqueline Wilson.
Here, Nick shares a little of his relationship with the world of words and the OED:
What do you think of when you hear ‘Oxford English Dictionary’?
I think of my dad’s’ Concise Oxford English Dictionary, which fascinated me as a child because it had indentations that enabled you to open it at the precise letter you wanted. I used to spend hours playing with it. When I was at secondary school I was given my own OED and it’s the one I still use. Looking at the words in the addenda takes me straight back to the 1970s: bionic, cagoule, hatchback, punk, Tannoy…
What’s your spelling like?
It’s not too bad but I need to look in the dictionary every single time I want to write rhythm or rhyme. I had to do it just now. For a long time I had trouble with embarrassing and definite but I’ve mastered those two.
Do you know any unusual words?
I came across the word quidnunc when I looking through the ‘q’s once. It means ‘someone given to gossip’ and I used it as the name for an imaginary magazine I had to design a cover for when I was at art school.
When I was a toddler I could only say ‘Niddus’ instead of ‘Nicholas’, and my mum still calls me that sometimes. I once looked up the nearest equivalent in the dictionary, so I know that a nidus is a place where an insect deposits eggs.
I also know that a rutabaga is a kind of root vegetable, having discovered the word on a pickle jar label.
What is your favourite word?
Are there any words or phrases that irritate you?
I’m not wild on people saying ‘I’m like’ when they mean ‘I said’. But it really does drive me round the bend when television presenters and journalists who should know better state that something is ‘very’ or ‘completely’ or ‘totally’ unique. Something is either unique or it isn’t – end of story!
Is there a word to describe your creative process?
I think assiduous might do it. I always hope my illustrations and texts look spontaneous and effortless, but an enormous amount of thought and effort has gone into even the simplest of my picture books.
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