Tom Read Wilson on his mission to make the English language less elitist

Jayne Cherrington-Cook
·3 min read
Tom Read Wilson says his love of words come from his father who was an English teacher (Image: Getty Images)
Tom Read Wilson says his love of words come from his father who was an English teacher (Image: Getty Images)

While he may be known for appearing on reality dating show Celebs Go Dating, Tom Read Wilson is actually a huge logophile; he’s a self-confessed word nerd.

Speaking on White Wine Question Time, the actor said that he’s recently taking to Instagram to teach his ‘word of the day’ because he’s fed up of language being so elitist.

“It’s sort of my big mission statement,” he told host Kate Thornton.

“It’s the reason that I do the Word of the Day on Instagram — and it’s the reason that I explore the etymology. I think if you can get to the root, and you can get to the familiar bit within that word, then it suddenly becomes a lot less complicated.”

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A lover of polysyllables — words with three or more syllables – Read Wilson believes there is a great physical pleasure that goes in learning words, which is something he's hoping he can pass on to others.

“I think that the sadness with language is that it has become elitist to kind of use polysyllable and it’s that disconnect about the intellectual pursuit versus the joy of just chewing on a great word,” he stated.

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“I want to make it much more, more physical and much more of a kind of almost a sensual delight. If you can share that and then it becomes a passion for somebody else, it’s a gift that goes on for the rest of your life. It’s extraordinary!”

Read Wilson, who most recently has appeared on BBC1’s Celebrity Best Home Cook, says his love of words comes from his father, who was an English teacher.

“He never really had a groove for talking to children — he only could issue this sort of deluge of polysyllables,” he recalled.

Tom Read Wilson in Celebrity Best Home Cook - (Keo Films/BBC)
Tom Read Wilson in Celebrity Best Home Cook - (Keo Films/BBC)

He continued: “One had to kind of try and ascend to his level. In a curious way, I think it was the best way of talking to a child because there is a study that says, if you hear a word 11 times in context, you know perfectly its definition without ever having read a definition.”

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For the young Read Wilson, learning new words wasn’t a boring education, but something more akin to play, which is why he believes it stays with him to this day.

“I was just sort of ingesting them and loving them, not really in an intellectual fashion, but a really physical fashion,” he explained to Thornton.

“I loved as a child masticating on words and them finding their ways into the darkest caverns of my mouth and it was a really physical sensation. For me it was, it was a form of play, and mercifully, I've retained that ever since I think.”

Aside from tuning into Read Wilson’s ‘word of the day’ posts on Instagram, he also suggests doing a daily crossword, which are his “absolute passion.”

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“I have to get my frontal cortex dancing,” he laughed.

“I find the only way to do that, especially in lockdown, is to take a run in the morning to get the blood cells dancing and then to sit on a park bench and do the crossword to get the grey cells dancing!”

Hear Tom Read Wilson talk about why he’s happy being single on the latest episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on iTunes and Spotify.

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