Category Archives: language

noetic or poetic?

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NOETIC

no-ED-ik

Part of speech: adjective 

Origin: Greek, mid-17th century

Definition: Relating to mental activity or the intellect.

Examples in a sentence:

“The philosophy department attracts noetic students.”

“Noah was equally athletic and noetic”

Some travel life, 

Shining brightly noetic

But as for me, 

 I’d rather wax poetic. 

-beth

 

 

 

image credit: npr brightside

huh?

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The word “huh” packs a lot of meaning into just one syllable. When we use it, we might be expressing confusion, asking for clarification, or requesting that a statement be repeated. We’re also communicating so concisely there’s hardly a break in the conversation, making “huh” the politest kind of interruption.

No wonder, then, that the word “huh” appears in multiple languages. In fact, according to a recent study in the journal PLOS ONE, linguists have found that the word is used to express confusion not only in related language families, but across multiple, independently developed languages. The researchers, who recently won an Ig Nobel Prize honoring their study, argued that “huh?” is so common it may actually be universal.

According to New York Magazine,  the researchers studied conversational use of the word “huh” in 10 different languages, including English, Icelandic, Murrinh-Patha (from Australia), and Cha’palaa (from Ecuador). Though these languages don’t share an origin, they still employ “huh” in much the same way.

The researchers believe that the widespread use of the word “huh” is an example of convergent evolution. In each language, “huh” developed independently, but was shaped by similar environmental or linguistic pressures—for example, the need for a relatively polite way to signal confusion. According to the study, the word “fulfills a crucial need shared by all languages –the efficient signaling of problems of hearing and understanding.”

“Huh” is not an innate human sound, like a grunt or emotional cry, the researchers say. Rather, it’s learned, taught to children, and passed down linguistically from generation to generation. According to researchers, its universality is a result of its important conversational function. Most of us probably take the word “huh” for granted—or don’t even think of it as a word at all—but according to researchers, that’s exactly why it’s so important: It doesn’t draw attention to itself.

 

“before I came here I was confused about this subject.

having listened to your lecture I am still confused. but on a higher level.”

-enrico fermi

 

 

 

Source Credit: New York Magazine, Photo credit: Animal Channel

 

 

 

animal planet

baby talk.

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i hear it over and over again

even coming out of my own mouth

and wonder how and why

we ever began the tradition

of talking to our pets in baby talk.

they must consider us to be quite simple people

ever working on our vocabulary and articulation

always hoping that some day

we might master our own language.

 

“i’ve seen a look in dogs’ eyes,

a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt,

and i am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.”

-john steinbeck

 

 

 

 

image credit: zazzle.com

can we speak in flowers? it will be easier for me to understand. -author unknown

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what is your favorite flower?

do you know what it’s saying?

 

THE HISTORY OF FLOWER MEANINGS – The Language of Flowers

The symbolic language of flowers has been recognized for centuries in many countries throughout Europe and Asia. They even play a large role in William Shakespeare’s works. Mythologies, folklore, sonnets, and plays of the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Chinese are peppered with flower and plant symbolism—and for good reason. Nearly every sentiment imaginable can be expressed with flowers. The orange blossom, for instance, means chastity, purity, and loveliness, while the red chrysanthemum means “I love you.”

FLOWERY LANGUAGE OF THE VICTORIAN ERA

Learning the special symbolism of flowers became a popular pastime during the 1800s. Nearly all Victorian homes had, alongside the Bible, guidebooks for deciphering the “language,” although definitions shifted depending on the source.

In the Victorian era, flowers were primarily used to deliver messages that couldn’t be spoken aloud. In a sort of silent dialogue, flowers could be used to answer “yes” or “no” questions. A “yes” answer came in the form of flowers handed over with the right hand; if the left hand was used, the answer was “no.”

Plants could also express aversive feelings, such as the “conceit” of pomegranate or the “bitterness” of  aloe. Similarly, if given a rose declaring “devotion” or an apple blossom showing “preference,” one might return to the suitor a yellow carnation to express “disdain.”

How flowers were presented and in what condition were important. If the flowers were given upside down, then the idea being conveyed was the opposite of what was traditionally meant. How the ribbon was tied said something, too: Tied to the left, the flowers’ symbolism applied to the giver, whereas tied to the right, the sentiment was in reference to the recipient. And, of course, a wilted bouquet delivered an obvious message!

More examples of plants and their associated human qualities during the Victorian era include bluebells and kindness, peonies and bashfulness, rosemary and remembrance, and tulips and passion. The meanings and traditions associated with flowers have certainly changed over time, and different cultures assign varying ideas to the same species, but the fascination with “perfumed words” persists just the same.

There is a language, little known,
Lovers claim it as their own.
Its symbols smile upon the land,
Wrought by nature’s wondrous hand;
And in their silent beauty speak,
Of life and joy, to those who seek
For Love Divine and sunny hours
In the language of the flowers.

–The Language of Flowers, London, 1875

 

text credits: Old Farmer’s Almanac, Catherine Boeckmann

art credit: Illustrated postcard. Printed in England/The Regent Publishing Co Ltd.-Dumbarton Oaks Archives

lay vs. lie.

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Word choices: lay vs. lie 

when looking up the eternal lay vs. lie question, (similar to the chicken vs. egg conundrum), this is what i found. i started out strong, but as i kept reading, it really only served to confuse me more, and my level of understanding dropped with each new sentence of explanation and i had to lay or lie down. warning: do not try to read this when lying or laying down. 

Imagine your friends are over for a movie night, and they’ve brought a tray of brownies to share. You take the platter from them — but do you tell them you’re going to “lie” it down or “lay” it down? And will you all “lie” down to watch the movie, or “lay” down? It’s an age-old question: What is the actual difference between “lay” and “lie”? When do you use one over the other?

Why are “lay” and “lie” confusing?

To clarify: We’re not talking about the kind of lie you might tell when you call out of work or don’t finish your homework on time. We’re talking only about the setting/reclining meaning of the verb.

“Lay” and “lie” are often confused because both words are about people or objects positioned horizontally on a surface. But they are used to refer to different scenarios.

It can be quite simple — if you’re in the present tense. The past tense is when things really get confusing, since the past tense of “lie” is “lay” (sorry). But don’t worry, we’ll give you a few easy tips to help you along.

When to use “lay” vs. “lie”

“Lay” is a transitive verb. Transitive means that you have an object that is being acted upon. So “lay” means to set down or place something — an object — in a horizontal position. Here’s an example in the present tense: “I lay the book on the nightstand.” In this instance, the book is the object that is having something done to it.

“Lie” is an intransitive verb, meaning the object doesn’t need something else to put it down. Instead, the person or subject is doing the action. “Lie” means to stay at rest in a horizontal position, or to recline. An example of “lie” in present tense would be, “I feel the wind as I lie in my backyard on the grass.” In this example, the person is performing the action rather than having the action done to them.

So, in the present tense, the simplest way to determine which word to use is by looking at what is actually being reclined. If the reclining object is inanimate and/or requires someone to put it down, use “lay.” If the object is self-sufficient, such as a person, use “lie.” Quick memory tip: Only a person can lie on a bed and tell a lie.

“Lay” and “lie” in other tenses

 Let’s tackle the past tense of each, since that’s where there’s the most opportunity to pick the wrong word.

I ____ my clothes out last night before I went to bed.

Which one is it — “lay” or “lie”? Here’s how to tell: Is something happening to an object? Yep! The clothes are being set out. That tells us that we need the verb “lay,” past tense “laid.”

I laid my clothes out last night before I went to bed.

Now, what about the past tense of “lie”?

I heard a noise coming from the basement as I ____ on the sofa watching a horror movie.

In this example, there is not a specific action being performed upon an object. Rather, the speaker (the subject) is doing the action. This means we need the past tense of “lie,” which (confusingly) is “lay.”

I heard a noise coming from the basement as I lay on the sofa watching a horror movie.

Still confused? Don’t worry. You won’t get reprimanded too much if you mix these up in verbal conversation. But for written communication, it helps to practice with examples so you can be confident in your word choice.

(not me, but i was doing this after trying to figure this explanation out)

“the greater part of the world’s troubles are due to questions of grammar.”
― Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays

 

source credits: wordgenius, grammarly

the history of how you felt.

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 loving my new journals and so looking forward to filling them

 

“language allows us to reach out to people, to touch them with our innermost fears, hopes, disappointments, victories.

to reach out to people we’ll never meet.

it’s the greatest legacy you could ever leave your children or your loved ones:

the history of how you felt.”

-simon van booy

 

twitterpated.

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word of the day:  twitterpated

part of speech: adjective

origin: American English, 1940s

  1. infatuated or obsessed
  2. in a state of nervous excitement

 

Examples of twitterpated in a sentence:

“‘Nearly everybody gets twitterpated in the springtime.’ — Bambi (1942)”

“The family is all twitterpated as they pace around the waiting room for the announcement of the new baby.”

 

When was the last time you were twitterpated?

 

 

“words, words, mere words, no matter from the heart.”

-william shakespeare

flowery language.

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today the water flowers spelled out their words in cursive writing

what do you think they were saying?

 

“can we speak in flowers? it will be easier for me to understand.”

-nayyirah waheed, Salt 

 

 

furstenberg park, ann arbor, michigan, usa –  june 2020

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