Category Archives: Language

A Single Word Can Change Everything

I stumbled upon an interesting bit of wordplay this morning, courtesy of a writer-directed Facebook post. Here it is: She told him that she loved him. The post went on to say that by inserting the word ‘only’ in various places, … Continue reading

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It has come to my attention that the French language is far more difficult for me to understand than I had earlier imagined. My mouth is not properly configured to speak, nor are my ears constructed to hear, the sounds … Continue reading

Posted in Absurdist Fantasy, Language | 2 Comments

Two Hundred

Poetry can utter thoughts one dare not say aloud, nor commit to prose, because poetry is a language of suggestion, interpretation, influence. “It means what it means to you” or “It means what you want it to mean.” That vague avoidance of … Continue reading

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Only So Far…

The difference between fear and terror is one of intensity and effect. Fear is authoritative. Terror is dominant. Fear generates a response. Terror triggers panic. Fear leads to action. Terror results in paralysis. Consider, as well, the difference between liking and loving. … Continue reading

Posted in Just Thinking, Language | 2 Comments

And on other matters…

It seems one of my favorite phrases, “slogging through the porridge,” belongs only to me. I have used it only once in my blog (that I can find), but it escapes my lips in conversation not infrequently and it has … Continue reading

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Caramel Floods

Soft and thick like flash-cooled caramel, my thoughts creep along in slow motion, their hard edges dragged around obstacles that get in their way by the more pliable core within. Thinking is, at times, an exercise in  patience. When the mind … Continue reading

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Un Qualunque Mattino

Some of my favorite tunes are by Gianmaria Testa, an Italian singer-songwriter. I do not understand the words to any of his music because I do not speak Italian, but I think I understand the emotions of the music. Still, I wish I … Continue reading

Posted in Language, Music | 4 Comments

I Should Have Sawn This Coming

The complexity of the world around us is staggering.  It’s not enough that we must be capable of acknowledging and recognizing the incalculably vast differences between butterflies and locomotives. No, we have to distinguish between components of each of them, and of … Continue reading

Posted in Language, Tools | 1 Comment

Skin in the Game

Here’s how it happened: I went looking for the etymology of “skin in the game.” What I found was a set of words that describe some concepts I never knew existed or, at least, I’d never thought about. A word exists, I learned, … Continue reading

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Scientific Inquiry

The older I get, the more I appreciate the magnificence of scientific inquiry and the more I appreciate its civility. Science and politics are worlds apart, one populated by people who strive to understand the world, the other by a … Continue reading

Posted in Language, Science | 2 Comments

The Ides of March

In my opinion, the primary reason we know the ides of March is that Shakespeare incorporated the phrase “beware the ides of March” into Julius Caesar, a soothsayer’s warning to Caesar. His impending assassination by Brutus and Cassius would take place on … Continue reading

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Trends in Benign Neglect

I read something not long ago  in which the term “benign neglect” was used.  My memory tells me it was used to describe a suggested policy in which improvements in education would occur if the State would just stop investing time and … Continue reading

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The Trouble with Words

Komorebi, as I came to learn recently, is a Japanese word meaning sunlight filtering through tree leaves.  If I am to properly describe the dim, non-illuminated areas on a wall next to the komorebi coming through the window, I need a … Continue reading

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The Sound of Wind Rustling in the Trees

I have added another word to my vocabulary, though I can’t guarantee it will stay.  Thanks to my friend, Trish, I now know that psithurism (a noun) means, according to various sources, the sound of wind in the trees and … Continue reading

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Morbid Curiosity?

I stumbled across something intriguing this morning.  It was of sufficient interest to warrant the further investigation which followed.  My fascination with language and its role in the human condition prompted my search and what, ultimately, might be considered morbid … Continue reading

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In the Beginning, There was the Word

The concept of human language is fascinating to me.  How is it that the sounds constituting Japanese and English and Arabic are so remarkably different, for example? And, quite apart from the differences in spoken words, how and why did written … Continue reading

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We Can Borrow Them

木漏れ日 The symbols above constitute a Japanese phrase for “sunlight filtering through tree leaves.” The English spelling of the phrase is komorebi.  I see no need to reinvent the wheel, or create a new word in a language that already has some … Continue reading

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Another Lover, Same Story

So many definitions of love, such a vast array of wildly disparate  viewpoints of an emotion; yet people seem to have stunningly similar, deeply intimate perspectives on the emotion that feeds on intimacy. I have fallen in love again, for perhaps the thousandth time, but … Continue reading

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Starving Artists and Other Crimes

I love words—the way they work together to express thoughts. But they can work together with context to form thoughts, too.  The title of this post, for example.  If I had been clever, I could have called this post a how-to guide, but … Continue reading

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There’s a term for that…

Repetition has the interesting effect of making perfectly normal words sound like nonsense syllables.  Try it. Prong. Prong. Prong. Prong. Prong. Prong. Prong. Prong. Prong. Eventually, perhaps already, the word has begun to sound like gibberish. It will work equally … Continue reading

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Lengua Confudido

Question: What is a powerful narcotic one might find in Addis Ababa? Answer: Ethiopiate. Question: What statement about a word cannot easily and simply be made in written form without using non-alphabetic symbols? Answer: There are three ways to spell the word whose sound is best … Continue reading

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Which Came First?

I watched several instructional YouTube videos yesterday, videos posted as marketing pieces for online art instruction.  My purpose in watching them was to learn a bit about painting with acrylics, something I’ve done several times without the benefit of any instruction … Continue reading

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April 17, like all other days, provides me with an opportunity to exhibit random curiosity. Today’s random curiosity found itself exploring the meaning and origins of the word “crimson.” I can’t say with even a shred of certainty why that … Continue reading

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Red Herring

If you make a point, every day, of thinking about and then learning about something of which you know little, you will expand your intellectual horizons.   That’s what I say. Today, I explored the etymology of the term “red herring.” … Continue reading

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Lagniappe in Suspension

A few years ago, my wife introduced me to a term I’d probably heard before, but did not quite understand: amuse-bouche. She introduced the term to me as we sat in a Mexican restaurant and were served a very nice … Continue reading

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