Chrysti the Wordsmith

Montanans You Should Know

Raised on a farm in northeastern Montana, Chrysti M. Smith now wrangles words for her daily radio series, “Chrysti the Wordsmith,” produced at KGLT-FM in Bozeman; it can be heard on public radio stations throughout Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and worldwide on Armed Forces Radio.

Growing up in Poplar, Montana, was… a rural kid’s version of heaven.  Horses, motorcycles, and the freedom to roam on those conveyances for miles in any direction.

Does anyone know where I put my… ability to stay awake past 10:00 p.m.

The first thing I do almost every day is… look out my bedroom window to get a sense of the morning’s personality.

The last time I was at a complete loss for words was… any given morning before 8:00 a.m.

Believe me, I am not the kind of person who… volunteers to correct your conversational grammar.
Spelling, that’s a different story.

I know it’s irrational, but I have a great fear of… thunder.  The terror is only slightly alleviated by knowing my fear has a name: brontophobia

My favorite cliché? Why it’s… “into thin air.” A Shakespearean coinage, it first appeared in The Tempest, one of my favorite plays.  

The most frustrating word I have ever encountered was… “dog,” because despite its ubiquity, its origins are a complete mystery. 

If you want to be really surprised ask me about…  two things my dad did for a living.

My favorite word from the “Old West” is… “mustang,” because I like any word associated with my favorite animal.

If you think I’m just looking up word definitions, you should know that… I spend at least four hours researching, writing and thinking about every word or phrase you hear on my radio series or read in Distinctly Montana.   

Late at night, when everything is quite still, I think about… how thankful I am to be enfolded in the peace of my home.

The next thing on my “bucket list” is… a journey to the Canary Islands, where the indigenous people communicated by whistling across the deep valleys.  Somehow this idea fascinates me.

Most people don’t realize that I… have been a house painter for 25 years.

The word “jazz” has special meaning for me because… in 1979,  I heard John Ciardi (American poet and language scholar) explain its history on his radio series A Word in Your Ear.  That Ciardi cared so much about that one little word that he took the time to de-mystify it moved me deeply. 

Don’t ever ask me about… the unfortunate séance incident.

It’s hard for me to imagine life without… animals, opposable thumbs, clean water. 

Listen to me when I tell you that… dictionaries are the universe in
alphabetical order.

The best words for my epitaph would be… “Here lies Chrysti, who knew the etymology of ‘epitaph’.”

If I could only choose three words to describe Montana, they would be… ancient, nurturing, unforgettable.

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