Tag Archives: English language

Me – pedantic?

Pedantic n: excessively concerned with minor details or rules;
overscrupulous.

I have realised that as I’m ageing I am becoming pedantic.  I find myself correcting the newscasters – who instead of whom; less instead of fewer, have two choices instead of a choice, split infinitives, etc etc.

While at the hospital recently I saw a message on the wall that said if you are a woman and between the ages of 17 to 65 – or some such ages, I drew my daughter’s attention to the mistaken use of to instead of and.  She responded with the question did I understand what was being transmitted.  Of course, I answered yes but it still worried me. Well that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Then later in the week, when just thinking about nothing in particular, it came to me that I was becoming pedantic.  The English language and the way it was used was very important in our lives growing up.  Both parents, but my Father, in particular, were very aware of the way we used English and because of this, I guess I have continued to be very aware of language.

So now I am making a definite move to change.  I know it won’t be easy but ….

Change is the law of life.
And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
John F. Kennedy

And for no other reason than because I love it. –

Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world“.
Marilyn Monroe

Red ShoesIf only I were able to wear those heels!

Words, Words and More Words

Words

Isaac Kaufmann Funk ( 1839 –  1912) was an American Lutheran minister, editor, lexicographer, publisher, and spelling reformer.    He is most well known for  The Standard Dictionary of the English Language published in 1893.   We are told via Wikipedia that “He worked with a team of more than 740 people.  His aim was to provide essential information thoroughly and simply at the same time. In order to achieve this he placed current meanings first, archaic meanings second, and etymologies last. ”

We know that he collaborated with his classmate, Adam Willis Wagnalls and the I K Funk company was renamed Funk and Wagnalls and the encyclopedia was renamed Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Encyclopedia in 1931.  It was later renamed New Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia, Universal Standard Encyclopedia, Funk & Wagnalls Standard Reference Encyclopedia, and Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia.quoted the best 10 words in the English language.as :

I read somewhere (?) that Isaac Funk considered the following the best ten words in the English language:

  • Mist
  • Hush
  • Luminous
  • Murmuring
  • Dawn
  • Chimes
  • Lullaby
  • Melody
  • Tranquil
  • Golden

These are in no particular order and I wonder how he arrived at this list of ten.  Certainly they are all gentle words with no harsh sounds or undertones.  Was he a gentle man looking to find equally gentle words?  I wonder

My choice of 10 words would be (again in no particular order):

  • Love
  • Gentle
  • Friendship
  • Family
  • Giving
  • Safety
  • Tranquil
  • Tenderness
  • Acceptance
  • Delight

What would your words be.  It’s fun to limit the choice to only 10.  Of course, there are many, many other words I could have chosen.  Why did I choose these?  They are all gentle words and maybe reflect where I am in my life’s journey now.

“But now the days grow short
I’m in the autumn of the year
And I think of my life as vintage wine
From fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs
and it poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year”
As sung by Frank Sinatra – It Was a Very Good Year.

And for me, they have mostly been very good years!

And a final word today from the Greek philosopher Epicurus (341 BCE – 270 BCE)

“It is impossible to live a pleasant life without
living wisely and well and justly.
And it is impossible to live wisely and well
and justly without living a pleasant life.” 

Some recent posts on words –

It’s all English – isn’t it?

You think that I don’t even mean
A single word I say
It’s only words, and words are all
I have to take your heart away.”
So sung the Bee Gees way back in 1997.

I started to write my blog today feeling absolutely ghastly.  The cold that I have been nursing for 8 days has now morphed into an awful cough and all I wanted to do today was lie down with my book.  Waking up several times during the night didn’t make me bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning.  Fortunately, I only had to attend one of the open homes being run by my Real Estate friend.

But I made a commitment to myself some six months ago to post a blog every day so here goes.

Some time ago I read a blog from Robin entitled Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve that started me off on a different tack altogether.  Robin’s blog made me think of the different words in the English language that can have two definite and different meanings.  They often sound the same but may have different spellings.

  • Preserve – for me as I have said means a preserve or jam of fruits or vegetables. For Robin it meant a wildflower park.
  • Conserve – to prevent injury or waste or to make a conserve such as jams, pickles or chutney.
  • Bow – to bow down in homage or the bough of a tree.
  • Left as in direction and left as in ‘he left the store’
  • Address – where one lives and address as in making an address to the assembled people.
  • Close as near and close to shut
  • Permit – allow and permit as license
  • Incline – a small hill and incline towards something
  • Anchor – used to secure a boat or alternatively the shops that anchor a shopping mall ie a large variety or department store at each end of the mall or the newscaster.
  • Rebel – as in resisting authority and rebel the person resisting

And then of course we could open the can of worms of how the same words have different meanings to American and British people.

  • Purse – American handbag, British change purse
  • Vest – American sleeveless garment worn over clothes, British undergarment
  • Jelly – American jam and British equivalent of Jello

And different names for certain things.  For example, in a car

  • Gas in America = Petrol in Britain, New Zealand and Australia
  • Hood in America = Bonnet in Britain, New Zealand and Australia
  • Trunk in America = Boot in Britain, New Zealand and Australia

This didn’t set out to be a lesson in English grammar a subject in which I have always been interested.  But can you tell the difference between  homonyms – words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings, eg bore and boar; homophones – words that sound the same however they are spelled eg whole and hole; and homographs – words that share the same spelling however they are pronounced eg content – happy or satisfied/all that is contained inside something.

As I don’t know where this is going I think I shall end there.  Hopefully my head will be in a better place tomorrow and the blog will make more sense.

But for now, please share my rainbow

Rainbow

My rainbow