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- The English Language
Words Do They Mean Anything
It Started With A Bark
It started with a bark. This could mean a dog barked and something began to happen. Perhaps this is going to be a sentence about examining or looking for the outer covering of a tree. I as the writer have an intention concerning meaning of this sentence. What I intend is very important if my writing is to be understood. There has to be some common reference in words otherwise there is no point to ever reading anything or putting their where there should be would be most acceptable.
While looking at tree bark is something I do regularly, this particular morning, the information you need to understand this sentence is; it was 5 o'clock in the morning when the dogs barked.
The Full Moon
Normally, they go out and that's it. Since, I was unusually wide awake I pulled on a jacket and went out as well. I remembered the news yesterday announcing it was odd for Passover, Good Friday and a full moon to happen all at once. Curiosity had me checking the morning sky. The full moon was amazingly beautiful and low in the sky. The sky always delights me. I like to think of the sky as a painting that is constantly changing. In the Christian tradition there is a saying, "The heavens declare the glory of God". In Egyptian history people worshiped the sun god RA. The sky has fascinated people for a long time.
Antiestablishmentarianism: a political philosophy viewing a nation's or society's power structure as corrupt, repressive,or unjust. The wish to subvert the establishment from within.
Are You What You Say...
Being awake led me to an article on a very politically and socially charged topic. The article was talking about how words no longer meant much. As a word lover this cut to the quick. Was this true?
Some years ago I asked a question about profanity. It was surprising how many of my beloved hubbers defended their use of profanity. They said, "It's just who I am". Think for a moment. Do you use profanity as a comma or exclamation point? If profane words have no meaning then use them as punctuation. But if they do mean something, what do they mean, and is that you want others to think of you. If you say," shit ",often are you being self deprecating? Are you stating you are manure? As a gardener I are love manure, but I don't think that is what most people think when they say," shit ",regularly. If you think about it long enough... Oh the rabbit trails of thinking.
After many years of not using profanity I recently swore at one of my children. Gasp! Is exactly what he did when I swore at him. I used the word very specifically and got a shocked response, which was my intention. I have no problem with people who use profanity to make a point, but a lazy habit with words is not in the best interest of a writer.
Recently a colleague Frank Atanacio used profanity in the most appropriate way. Check out his writing he does a nice job playing with words.
A friend, a flight attendant, recently punctuated a sentence with an F bomb while speaking to a passenger. Did that word meant anything?
Morality is defined as principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior. synonyms: ethics, rights and wrongs, ethically
The meanings of words change over time. Think of the word gay. It can refer to a woman whose first name is Gay. It can refer to the singer Marvin Gay whose last name is Gay. If you bring up those names in an elementary school the kids will snicker because the use of gay as a name is archaic to them. They think of gay in terms of sexual orientation.
Words in one culture can differ completely in another. Like the word dog. Dogs in the United States are man's best friends. I heartily agree, since this all started with a bark. In other cultures the word "dog" is a slur. Dogs are disgusting to some Asian and Eastern cultures. Let's leave the word dog. It's like the word think, the rabbit trails dog can lead you down in other societies seldom lead to a good ending for the dog.
Antidisestablishmentarianism is the opposition to the government withdrawing support from established religions.
Words and their meanings change as societies change. This completely stymies me. Why do I have to learn new meaning for words like tolerance and sex?
In the sixties and seventies the mantra was," You can't legislate morality". Now, if you don't want to legislate morality you are any number of nasty names. What what does the word morality mean?
Morality is defined by Webster as principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.
synonyms: ethics, rights and wrongs, ethically
Well here is a good case for words having no meaning. If you have no standard for right and wrong, good and bad behavior you make up your own morality. The more people do this the harder it is for me to keep track of what I am supposed to be doing. The things I grew up believing were right, now are wrong. Hey, there are some advantages to this. I can...do all sorts of things like sit on the counter in the kitchen and drink from the milk carton and double dip the guacamole at cocktail parties. You can't tell me science says it's unhealthy to double dip if I didn't get enough guac on my chip. That isn't my reality. Science is relative there is even a Theory of Relativity to prove it.
The Morning Didn't Really Start With A Bark
I was actually awake before the dogs barked. Remember the article entitled "Do Words Matter". Something triggered the thought of how we played with words when I was a kid. We would find long words and learn how to use them. I suspect the game was the result of Mary Poppins word "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". Someone got the idea antidisestablishmentarianism was the longest word in the dictionary. So when I was reading the article about the meaning of words I got to thinking that I didn't remember the definition of antidisestablishmentarianism. I did what any body does now, but would have never thought of doing 10 years ago, I Googled the word. The first word I came up with was antiestablishmentarianism. Which refers to a political philosophy that views a nation's or society's power structure as corrupt, repressive, exploitative or unjust. The definition also included the idea people who believe in antiestablishmentarianism wish to subvert the establishment from within. I am so going to use this word in a conversation today.
Floccinaucinihilipilification is defined as the action or habit of estimating as worthless.
Well to get back to antidisestablishmentarianism, which is the word I was trying to remember. This word means the opposition to the government withdrawing support from an established religion or church. (Anglican Church, 19th-century England)
When the site said it was not the longest word in the dictionary, my time honored belief, from the fourth grade, reared its ugly head and forced my pride to prove it just wasn't so.
Then I came across the wonderful word floccinaucinihilipilificatiion. Pronounced flok- suh-naw-suh-nahy-hil-uh-pil-uh-fi-key-shuh: a noun. It is an archaic word that I had to look up in the Oxford dictionary because it was not in my Britannica dictionary circa 1958. Webster doesn't include it because they have determined it is no longer used.
Floccinaucinihilipilificatiion is proving the value of something is worthless. Floccinaucinihilipilificatiion: what you do when you try to prove words have no meaning. Every word has meaning. Be very careful what you say and write to avoid being floccinaucinihilipilificatous.
While, it doesn't work well in spoken conversation it's lovely in writing. It does a nice job describing politicians, law,and lots of other words that take me down rabbit trails...