Sunday, November 30, 2008

Strunk and White

We've had an interesting discussion on Wordcraft about prescriptivism. The post that started it all was about the use of literally in this sentence, "'I’ve had children just literally tear my heart out,' said Jackson." Then I mentioned my sister's laughing about, "the broadcaster said 'they were literally cherry picking.'" However, goofy pointed out that literally has been used in the figurative sense since 1839. Surely that's the case. Then another poster mentioned his disgust with people who mix up infer and imply. Again, goofy set us straight, saying that since 1533 infer has been used to mean imply. Yet, there are those who think those two words need to be clearly differentiated, such as the Strunk and White and Lynne Truss lovers.

I should talk. Even in the Wordcraft thread I got sucked into to complaining about the "wrong" use of literally. I think it comes down to enjoying being right. Yet when you dig into word origins, you frequently find out that the prescriptivist views are wrong. Unfortunately, those who are the biggest complainers about the use of words are often the laziest to dig into the etymology.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


NRO has used the word epicaricacy in a real sense. Along with it, I learned a new word, cacozelia. I suppose the use of epicaricacy could be considered affected and pedantic. Still, I think having a few really rare words in your vocabulary is a good thing. What are some of yours?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Art Defined

While I can't really post this on Wordcraft because of the angst the question of "what is art?" creates, I shall post it here. I believe that Lewis Hyde has articulated my definition of what art is in this wonderful article. Here is an excerpt that describes art as a gift. How true!

"The ideas resonated deeply with Hyde. For nearly a decade he had been struggling to explain — to his family, to nonartist friends, to himself — why he devoted so much of his time and energy to something as nonremunerative as poetry. The literature on gift exchange — tales, for example, of South Sea tribesman circulating shells and necklaces in a slow-moving, broad circle around the Trobriand Islands — gave him the conceptual tool he needed to understand his predicament, which was, he came to believe, the predicament of all artists living “in an age whose values are market values and whose commerce consists almost exclusively in the purchase and sale of commodities.” For centuries people have been speaking of talent and inspiration as gifts; Hyde’s basic argument was that this language must extend to the products of talent and inspiration too. Unlike a commodity, whose value begins to decline the moment it changes hands, an artwork gains in value from the act of being circulated—published, shown, written about, passed from generation to generation — from being, at its core, an offering."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Dash

I have begun to realize that there are 2 types of Blogs. There are the inspirational ones, which contain creative, original comments. Those are the ones that challenge your intellect, that make you think in new ways, that are exciting and eventually get "discovered." Then there are those like mine. Mostly I crib quotes or discussions or poems from others (always giving credit, I hope!). I'd love to be like the former, but I am not there yet.

Having said that, I am going to continue in my ways with this post. I am at a conference in Myrtle Beach, which wasn't easy to get to, since I came from another one in Reno. My United route? From Reno to Los Angeles to Philadelphia to Charlotte to Myrtle Beach. And can you believe it all worked out beautifully? With the blasted time change, I left on Friday at 7:00 pm and got here at 11:00 am on Saturday! My hotel was the plane. I had not been looking forward to it, but you know what? It rather worked out. No plane was even a minute late, and I was able to sleep from LA to Philadelphia and from Philadelphia to Charlotte. So I am ready for a great banquet at this conference! At any rate, this tear jerker was presented, and it inspired me. In case you haven't read this poem, here it is:

The Dash
copyright 1996 Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
and spoke of the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that she spent alive on earth...
and now only those who loved her
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own;
the cars....the house...the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard...
are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
to consider what's true and real,
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
and more often wear a smile...
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read
with your life's actions to rehash...
would you be proud of the things they
say about how you spend your dash?

Monday, November 10, 2008

The gender gap

I wrote a limerick for OEDILF...quite fun really. Here it is:

While I sat in the beauty salon,
That bitch took my Louis Vuitton!
That dastard is cunning
But as she is running,
Impeccable taste she will don!

How did I know that men wouldn't get it? One of the workshoppers thought I was talking about a trunk! Now, women, don't you all know about those gorgeous Louis Vuitton handbags? We drool about them, even though most of us can't afford them. However, men don't even know about them. Such is life.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President Obama

What a night in Chicago. To be honest, I never remember being this excited over an election. It usually has been about choosing the least of 2 evils. This time is different. I am really thinking that Barack could be more than good; he could be great. I've been impressed by his even temperament, even during stressful times. He never got angry at being called a "terrorist" or a "socialist." He just calmly explained his position and the errors of his opponents' ways. My friend and I used to complain that he needed to be "more passionate" (like we are). He'd never win, we'd say, unless he shows more emotion. Of course, we were used to years of our team losing, so nothing he could do would convince us. But now, when we look back on it all, it was exactly that eveness, that thoughtfulness, that helped him win. Remember when McCain wanted to call off the debate to take care of the economy issue? Obama calmly said, "A president has to deal with more than one thing at once." That and Palin, I think, were the beginnings of McCain's fall.

Bush had run on the assumption that Americans would want a drink with him. Palin, with her "Joe 6-pack" ran with the same assumption. Finally Americans have realized that a president is a leader, not a beer buddy. He or she represents Americans throughout the world. Major economic and defense decisions must be made. Would you want your "beer buddy" making those decisions?

Thank God. Americans have finally come to their senses. I am thinking this must have been similar to how Americans felt when Kennedy was elected.