Words are amazing things.
I love the way one word can mean many different things. I love the way many words can mean the same thing. I love the way just the tone in which a word is said can change its meaning. I love the way a word can change its meaning over time. Words are amazing things.
|a Richard Goodwin sculpture|
on exhibition at BRAG
How many ways can the word “really” be used? It’s really warm today. It’s really Friday today, although I thought it was Wednesday. Really? Really!
I also love the way words can be put together in a way that makes them more than the sum of the parts. By this I mean where the group of words when put together in a particular way mean something totally unrelated to what they mean at face value.
This topic came into my head a short time ago when I was thinking about cryptic crosswords. Some people can solve them easily (my father was such a person). Some people are totally bewildered by them. But fundamentally they work on a principle that most people use every day – interpreting words that have been grouped together, trying out meanings until the one that fits best is found.
|jenny wren on our dwarf peach|
she is now a mother!
When I was growing up, my father often had a weird response to the question of “why?”. It was “because Y is a crooked letter and you can’t straighten it”. I have absolutely no idea what those words “really” mean (they make no sense to me anyway). But I knew exactly what it meant coming from Dad – “stop! I’m either sick of you hassling me with these constant questions, or I don’t know the answer but I’m not going to admit it, so you had better stop now whilst you are still capable of sitting down!”.
Dad had others, too. Like “it’s a wigwam for a goose’s bridle” – that was in response to “what is it?” or “what are you making?”, and is absolute nonsense, but I knew it meant that he wasn’t going to tell me.
|some results of my experiment with felting|
Dad isn’t the only person I know who said nonsensical things, the meaning of which was clear. I had a boss who would say “when a man’s got rabbit in his blood…(pause)…”. I now know this was probably a mis-quote from “Cool Hand Luke”. At the time I had no idea what it “really” meant (still don’t), but I did understand that it meant my boss was momentarily stumped (that didn’t happen very often) and needed to pause for a bit, and I either had to offer suggestions, or just sit there and shut up until he worked it out.
All of this has absolutely nothing to do with retirement, except perhaps that I have enough time on my hands now that I can ponder things like this. My point from all of this is that words are amazing.