2017 A To Z Challenge – B

Challenge2017

When I sieved out the following list of B-word prompts, I was struck by how many of them could apply to me.  Rather than choosing only one, here are some random thoughts about a few of them.

Bibliophile
blood
baggage
belief
bold
books
beach
barn
blog

Letter B

My home town is halfway up the East coast of Lake Huron, in Ontario. It has 3 miles of lovely warm, soft, white sand beach.  It has become a vacation haven, and tourism is a large part of its financial wellbeing.

The town to the south gets only 1 mile of shoreline. The tiny tourist village to the north sits in the center of 10 miles of sandy shore.  Access to the water is good, and the swimming is wonderful but, in both cases, the sand barely reaches above the water level, and their beaches are flat, hard and damp.

My mother constantly read to me as a child, and I learned to read quite young. I became a bibliophile, a lover of books.  I am also a logophile, a lover of words, but all the wonderful words are in the wonderful books, so we’ll discuss that later.

Ray Bradbury said, “Libraries raised me.” My tiny little town had a tiny little library, about the size of a medium house.  It was only open two days a week.  The volunteer librarian was a former teacher.  It was here that I learned early, the value of linguistic precision.

The fine for late books was 2 cents, biweekly.  The intent was for 2 cents, per book, for each of the 2 weekly open days.  I stood beside a man who went and got a dictionary to show the librarian that ‘biweekly’ also meant ‘every two weeks.’  He would pay 2 cents, but not the 8 cents that she demanded.

A local man became a mining engineer. He located an ore field in Northern Ontario, staked a claim, and sold the rights to a mining firm which would extract the minerals.  With the initial payout and ongoing royalties, he retired early, as the town’s richest resident.

He and his wife were great readers, but they never had children. When his wife died, and he was facing his own mortality, he donated a large portion of his fortune to the municipality, to be used to build a library in memorial to his wife.  We got a fairly large (for a small town) new library, right beside the Town Hall.  His bequest bought lots more books, and an annuity paid for hired staff.

When I moved 100 miles to Kitchener for employment, it was easy to pack my luggage. I had very little.  I also had to pack my baggage – my propensity for procrastination, my learning disorders, my neurological syndrome which causes poor physical control and lousy short-term memory, as well as my autistic-type inability to read social cues, and make and hold friends.

I am more methodical, determined, and tenacious; I would never be described as bold. Having survived an interesting, if not terribly thrilling life, now in the twilight of my years, I can put these thoughts and remembrances down, and publish them in my blog.   😀

 

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He Said – She….Mumbled

Grammar Text

PENDARVIS’ THEOREM OF WHY THINGS WENT WRONG
It’s only a little bit off

As an OCD Word Nazi, I appreciate precision in all things, but especially in written and spoken English usage. I used to delight in watching the British comic, Benny Hill, not merely because he was a king of slapstick comedy, but because of his consummate control of language while doing it.

He also showed his dedication to linguistic precision with lines like, “When he said he was bent on seeing her, he meant he was bent on seeing her, not that the sight of her doubled him up.”  He complained that he had a bent wood chair in his dressing room; not a Bentwood chair, but a bent, wood chair, because of the damp in the basement.

A character with a funny accent could refer to the crime of man’s laughter, instead of manslaughter.  A skit might show an incorrectly hung sign for

Doctor Johnson, The
rapist

when it was really Doctor Johnson, Therapist.

I once had an aunt who was the epitome of imprecision. She often started conversations in the middle and worked toward each end, usually not reaching either.  It was common for her to toss out the likes of, “We went over to see him, but, of course, they weren’t home.  He wanted to go down there, but I said it was too late.  We walked to it, but I was right; it was Tuesday.”

(I hope)There was a lot going on inside her head that didn’t leak out through her mouth. I know there was a lot of alcohol involved, on both sides.  She was a ‘Lady’, and Ladies didn’t ‘drink’, although she wouldn’t refuse 6 or 8 medicinal toddies in an afternoon – or evening.  I often wondered if my Mother’s brother understood what she was talking about, or even cared.

Baby grammar seals

I recently read an article on the usages of ‘different from’ vs. ‘different than.’ It stated that ‘different from’ was accepted in all cases.  ‘Different than’ was considered proper usage only about 10% of the time – “so, one is more correct than the other.”

In the comments thread beneath, Polly Pedantic immediately struck like a stooping hawk. “Don’t you mean more nearly correct?”  No dear, they don’t!  If she’d paid a little more attention to both the article, and her own comment, she’d have seen that.

‘Nearly correct’ means incorrect, and the article plainly said that each was correct, only one more often accepted than the other.  It even gave rare examples of ‘different as’, and ‘different to.’

One single recent newspaper almost had me in tears. The headline read, ’Two youths killed when car sideswipes power pole.”  And there was the photo.  The car was wrapped around the pole in a C-shape, or a U, so, the writer doesn’t understand ‘sideswipe.’

The pole holds up a streetlight, and a traffic light, but there are no electrical wires attached to it. It’s a light standard, so the writer also doesn’t understand ‘power pole.’  The lone survivor was ejected through a rear window, which means he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, in contravention of the clearly-written Highway Traffic Act.  Stupidity, and lack of comprehension, carries the death penalty.

The next article spoke of ten intersections that would be closed for work on the new street railroad. They included King Street at Breithaupt, and King Street at Moore Ave.  This is where I worked for almost 20 years.  It’s only one location, another of Kitchener’s fabled K-intersections.  Two side streets each approach the main drag from opposing 45° angles.  Actually, Breithaupt runs into Moore, behind the McDonald’s, and only Moore reaches King.  Ten intersections closed??  I can’t count on precision.

A brief read, “Accident sends man to hospital south of Port Elgin.” There is no hospital ‘south of Port Elgin,’ but an “Accident, south of Port Elgin, sends a man to hospital.”

Then, on to the crossword, where the clue was ‘clammering up.’ Hmm??  Do they mean ‘clamoring,’ or ‘clambering?’  Apparently it was clambering, because the solution was ‘shinning,’ but clambering doesn’t mean shinning, in the same way that trotting does not mean galloping.

It’s only a little bit off??  I am bent on seeing this drivel – by which, I precisely mean that the sight of it doubles me up. Gaakk   😳

There’s A Word For That

Aglet – the little plastic or metal thing that keeps the ends of shoelaces from unravelling.  English has a word for every object or action or thought.  Well, almost every.  Other languages and cultures have concepts that English doesn’t cover.  The Finns (the country, not the drunken Irish) are obsessed with familial relations.  English has aunts and uncles.  Finnish breaks them down to mother’s side or father’s, if they are mother’s, or father’s, sisters and brothers, or just married to them.  It runs to about 26 different words.  Who cares?  Other than Finns, obviously?

Males tend to excel at math and spatial relationships, while females do better with language and communication.  There will be no smart comments allowed when I admit that I have always been a linguiphile. (That’s a lover of language.)  I was able to read magazines before I turned 5, and my voracious print consumption gained me my greatest and best ability, one from which I have not garnered a nickel in my entire life.  I understand words, and know their exact meanings, and often how that occurred.

My daughter bought me a Words To Impress People, word-a-day calendar for Christmas.  It contained words like, dalliance, iconoclast, raconteur, ideologue, sacrilegious and abatement.  While interesting, it was no big deal.  I don’t need to impress people.  These words are in my normal vocabulary.  I’ve used them in my posts.  I hope some of you have looked up one or two you might not have known.

It wasn’t till I got to January 25th, that I hit one I didn’t know, or at least hadn’t run into – labanotation. (Oh dear, Spellcheck doesn’t like that one.)  I might have been able to pull it apart and figure it out on my own, but – there’s the definition.  It’s the nomenclature used to choreograph ballets, modern dance and other performances, so that dancers can follow the steps.  I can’t think why a classy, upscale guy like me didn’t know that one.

Words can be used for precision, gravitas or historical value.  As the late, great Benny Hill often said, “He was bent on seeing her, does not mean that the sight of her doubled him up.”  Some words are used instead of others for effect, to produce certain opinions and feelings.  I personally like the word *sonorous*, meaning to have a full, rich, impressive sound, for two interconnected reasons.  It resembles the word *snore*, and when I think of it, I get the mental image of any political assembly, half of them droning on, self-importantly, the other half snoozing.  😛

I try not to use text-speak or tweet-write.  I’ve posted WTF a couple of times, but I feel that anything more important than whether or not you had raisins in your oatmeal this morning, is worth more than 140 characters.  I’ve previously pointed out the difference between those who can read, and those who do read.  Sadly, I fear that many of those who don’t read, feel that they do, because of all the smart-phone thumbnastics they go through to feel connected.

LMFAO or YOLO is not going to get or keep a job for them.  I feel sorry for them because, with all their cute little abbreviations, their vocabulary will soon be down to 200 words.  They think they’re communicating, but actually they’re missing the broad complexities that the language is capable of.  😕

Now that I’m retarded retired, most of the sad, miscommunication I’m exposed to, comes from print, whether paper and ink, or digital.  I’ll continue to rant about crossword puzzle makers’ casual ignorance of precise meanings.  Bring – and fetch.  Bring means that you have it, and carry it to me.  Fetch means you don’t have it, but must go to get it before bringing it to me.  Tiny details that prevent you from being wrong, and looking the fool.

I ranted to myself about, should = must, yesterday.  I should study for a test tomorrow, rather than going to see the movie, A Good Day To Die Hard.  I must answer to several people for the poor mark I will get on the exam.

A misuse of names affects the son and his employer.  I have never been approached by someone who did not possess American, State licence plates, or regional accents, for the location of a particular, much-mispronounced city street.  The famous composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, has an English name, with two B’s, and six letters, pronounced “Webb-Brr.”  On his Wikipedia page, there is even a note, “Do not confuse with Andrew Weber.”  Our Weber Street is named for a German with only one B and five letters in his name, pronounced “Wee-Brr.”  See the difference?  Many don’t!  😦

The son’s plastic molding company makes parts for the American-owned Weber barbecue company, and to agree with their customer, are forced to pronounce it Webb-Brr.

I worked for four years at a precision machine shop, where tolerances went down to Millionths of an inch, yet the chief engineer wondered why his young male assistant and I bothered to set our digital watches to within a second of radio Standard time.  With my obsession with the language, I often wonder why writers (and speakers) devote so much time and energy to other things, yet fail so badly in their word choices and spelling.

There’s a word for that, but it’s not commonly used in polite company, so, I’m done.  😀