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INFP Reflections Blog

By Paul Dunning

After reading Tolkien’s quote – “I often long to work at my nonsense fairy language and don’t let myself ’cause though I love it so it does seem such a mad hobby!” – in my previous blog, I started to wonder if other INFPs have the same affiliation with words.

From an early age I have thought about their genesis, speculating that a word like “ugly” came about because it is a natural verbal response to something unpleasant to see.

Words can be a lot of fun. It seems Tolkien loved the creativity of word play. As an INFP, one of my fascinations is with the feelings certain words emote when spoken that go beyond their intended meaning.

“Cantankerous” jumps out at you, laden with emphasis, each syllable a heavy footstep on the floor.

“Theme” seems to stick to the roof of your mouth, like a spoonful of verbal peanut butter.

“Auspicious” sounds as if it can’t contain its meaning, spilling hope in all directions.

This may not be an INFP thing at all, but I wonder. Our dominant function of Introverted Feeling focuses us on inwardly evaluating ideas according to our values. And words are ideas, so by playing with words we refine our tools to communicate. And that can be fun.

What is your relationship with words?

Further reading for INFPs and others:

For more thoughts on communicating well, read Introduction to Type and Communication.

If you live in the USA, Introduction to Type and Communication is now available on Kindle.

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 at 7:49 am and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

9 Responses to “Words”

  1. I can edit one sentence as many as twenty times. By the end of my editing (if I find an “end”), I am aware of every related nuance of thought and feeling that I have, but often have little clarity on what I have left in it for the reader. (INFP)

  2. admin says:

    Hi Beth,

    I agree. Editing is when you find out what you have really said.


  3. Melissa says:

    I’m an INTP and love words and etymology as well. When I think about using words, I’m most concerned about using the “right” one which for me means the one most appropriate to the situation. That’s more an objective standard than is how the reader will feel about the sentence like Beth talks about above. That’s not surprising given the T/F difference.

    I also love to read out loud. One other thing that drives me nuts is to not be able to pronounce character and place names the way an author intended. I mean, how would you pronounce Valwendigorinian? (Fantasy fan.) Two resources I learned about recently that help with that are – place names in authentic accents, and – same text read by people of all origins.

  4. I absolutely agree with this! Words have always been a strength of mine and I have even created a professional niche out of this talent through grant writing, résumé writing, etc. I often feel as if some great writing is within me but I am waiting for the inspiration to hit me… I am loosely writing three books and I have countless poems posted in Urbis. I also believe INFPs are more in tune to the power of words. For example one of my colleagues at work runs emails past me before sending out to make sure they are hitting the right tone. In the past I did not think much of this but I have come to know this as an innate INFP gift. Thanks for sharing!

  5. admin says:

    Hurray for all the innate INFP gifts.


  6. admin says:

    Hi Melissa,

    Thanks for the links to resources. I agree that pronunciation is another realm in the world of words.


  7. Kelly says:

    I love words, and I love to edit. To close my eyes…to feel the scene…to conjure images and feelings and find just.the.right.words to bring the story to life, to stir those same emotions in the reader. I think it’s my favorite thing to do.

    Thanks for this article. Whether I’m INFP or not, it made my happy little writer’s heart smile.

  8. admin says:

    Hi Kelly,

    Thanks for your comment. It made my heart smile as well.


  9. Daiana says:

    I am also an INFP (weaker on the I and the P, but definitely NF).The How To Just Get Started was the key for me to start defeating depression, a revelation that helped me loads in my 20s especially. To overcome that heavy, dragging inertia, I told myself I just needed to accomplish one simple thing. Anything. Even if I didn’t feel like it. That little boost of accomplishment would help me step up to something bigger. And yeah, I’ve done the thing I’ve least wanted to do to just get it over with, making other things seem less horrible by comparison afterwards.I do a lot of self-defeating stuff, but I’ve been working on fixing that. One big thing is should statements . If I say I should work on my novel , what I’m really saying is, I’d work on my novel, but I’m putting that off because I don’t feel up to it . Or something else negative. To paraphrase Yoda, Do. Or do not. There is no should. It’s better to state what I’m really going to do, and if I must put something off, be honest about it and say when I’ll do it instead. That’s one I’ve worked into everyday thought.Thanks again for posting these. Since I’m of a very similar personality type, I am your target audience for sure.

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