Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Your life: Runic, Rune, or completely open?

Today, I thought we might look at, not just the word of the day for August 19 2011, but also at the noun it came from.
Yes, ‘runic’, Word of the Day for Friday, August 19, 2011, is the adjectival form of the Noun, ‘Rune’, which means:
1. Any of the characters of certain ancient alphabets, as of a script used for writing the Germanic languages, especially of Scandinavia and Britain, from c200 to c1200, or a script used for inscriptions in a Turkic language of the 6th to 8th centuries from the area near the Orkhon River in Mongolia.
2. Something written or inscribed in such characters.
3. An aphorism, poem, or saying with mystical meaning or for use in casting a spell.
Whereas ‘runic’ means:
1. Having some secret or mysterious meaning.
2. Consisting of or set down in runes.
3. Referring to an interlaced form seen on ancient monuments, metalwork, etc., of the northern European peoples.
So here we see that a ‘Rune’ is something plain to see, yet not plain to understand by outsiders, while “runic’ takes that idea one step further and makes it all secretive and only open to a select few in the know.
This brings me to the question in my title and especially in regard to our own personal lives. Yes, is your life open and understandable to just your own particular group or family, or worse, only open to a very select few, who can “read” you?
Or is your life an open book so to speak, and understandable to all who see it without the need of a special code book to decode your life message?
True that in some cases, some secrets or runic behaviour may be necessary, but usually most runic behaviour simply leads to a life of ruin! What say you?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ambsace: Good or bad?

Ambsace, (pronounced, EYMZ-eys*) and Word of the Day for Sunday, July 31, 2011, is another of those now obscure words that have totally different meanings, depending on the context and usage. Here are 3 for you:
1. The smallest amount or distance.
2. The lowest throw at dice, the double ace (two ones.)
3. Bad luck; misfortune.
In the first instance, being at the smallest amount of distance can be good if the thing is desired, but if it is harmful like in this following example, it is not so good, is it? "We're within ambsace of being done." -- Jo Ann Ferguson, A Phantom Affair.
Likewise with the throw of a dice being the lowest, or coming up with double ones. I’ve played some board games where either is advantageous, and yet other games where it is deadly to your chances of winning. So again, it is all about context, rather than plain meaning.
Interestingly, Ambsace stems from the Old French ambes as, "both aces," which suits the second of the two dice illustrations in definition two, but has little obvious connection to the other two meanings, does it?
All of which means that, although it is highly unlikely you or I will ever come across the word ambsace in common usage, it is also good to always be on the watch for words with two or more different meanings and the context in which any and every word is being used. Thus once again we see that we always need to be careful, that what we think someone is meaning, is what they really mean and not our misunderstanding because we haven’t understood what they said in the proper context.
With the belief that you will understand the above in the proper context, I will close now.
* If you can pronounce that properly/comfortably, then you are doing better than me!

Monday, August 29, 2011

For what it’s worth.

For what it is worth, for what it is worth, is the name of a massive 60’s hit song for a group called Buffalo Springfield, which if known at all today, is known for producing Stephen Stills who went on to greater fame in Crosby Stills and Nash. As well, Buffalo Springfield also introduced the world to Canadian Neil Young, who had great fame as a soloist and also as an, on again, off again, member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, as they were called when he was around.
Anyway, back to "For what it is worth", it was also reworked and became a hit again in the 90’s for a Group called “Oui 3”*. Only then, it was called, “You can’t get to heaven with an AK 47.”
Now you may not recall the name of the song, “For what it is worth", (which by the way and for what it is worth, does not contain, anywhere in the song, the words, for what it is worth!)
However, I would be very, very surprised, if you don’t know at least one line and the Chorus of the Song, which is currently being used in a commercial here in Melbourne, Australia for an Insurance company or some such thing!
So what is this famous line and Chorus? Well the line is:
“I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down”
And the Chorus is an extension of that:
“We better stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, now, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down”
Well, for what it is worth, that’s that!
But in case you are wondering where all this was leading to, I don’t actually know! It’s just that I was fascinated at how many times this song, or at least its chorus, has been used over the years, and at how well known it is, despite the fact that only fans of the original Group would actually know the song, and their, names.
So I guess the question for today is, “How well do we really know things that are otherwise well known to us?” And, for what it is worth, does it really matter anyway? Over to you now.
* I also think it ironic that an English/American/Swiss band would have a French name.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Do you sublimate?

Sublimate, Word of the Day for Saturday, July 9, 2011, has 3 major meanings as seen below:
1. In psychology, to direct the energy of a primitive impulse into activities that are considered to be socially more acceptable.
2. In chemistry, to refine or purify a substance.
3. To make nobler or purer.
Now, few of us are chemists or likely to often refine or purify substances normally. But all of us I believe, have always before us the opportunities to try and make thinks nobler and purer if we really wanted to. And the best way to do that is psychologically.
In the example they give for sublimate, they then give this following quote: “I sublimate my depression into creativity, but as a man who can only focus on one thing at a time, I can only sublimate into one target. --- Marc Koetzle, The World of Should”.
Thus there, we see the beneficial psychological direction of a basic hurtful action taken and intentionally redirected into something creative and beneficial. But even here we see that usually, one can only direct or sublimate our energies fully and properly into any one objective at a time, don’t we? Again we have the warning to not to try and spread ourselves too broadly and to always finish what we start too, don’t we?
So how are you going today sublimating the energy of your primitive impulses into creative activities? Or do you still need to work on that a bit more?

Friday, August 26, 2011

When does it become a crime in your mind?

Victor Hugo, in his book Les misérables: Volume 1, wrote: “To climb a wall, to break a branch, to purloin apples, is a mischievous trick in a child; for a man it is a misdemeanour; for a convict it is a crime.”
I thought this a fascinating insight into how we look at certain deeds and actions don’t you?
For little children, we not only often excuse their wrong behaviour, but sometimes even encourage it by finding it amusing.
While for others, and especially those we like, whilst not totally happy about their wrong behaviour, we still seem to condone, even if not out rightly encouraging it, by not responding as fully as we should, don’t we?
And then, for yet others, and especially for those with a bad reputation, or even simply someone we don’t like, we are more than happy to throw the book at them and hard too, it seems. Which brings us back to the question implied in our title for today. When does wrong behaviour become a crime in our minds or thinking, and how should we respond on all occasions?
Well, whilst the background and circumstances of each and every situation must always be taken into consideration, proper condemnation and correction should also be applied on every occasion too. So that even if that particular incident is not fully enforced that time, the perpetrator, for that is what they are, even if only a child! Yes, the perpetrator should be left in no doubt that any further repetition, even if of a lesser degree, will not be accepted in future. And even when a child is involved, some sort of restitution should be attempted if possible.
Again, our condemnation and judgements, while fully informed by the specific situation in hand, should also be both fair and consistent to all in involved in wrong doing, whether young or old, loved or despised.
Well they are my thoughts on the subject. What are yours?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Do you really have the right to Usufruct?

Usufruct, the Word of the Day for Thursday, July 14, 2011, is another r of those words that although most of us have never heard of it, it describes an action most of us have done and often. But sometimes illegally too, but with little or no regard to that fact! So, what does Usufruct actually mean and how can we do it illegally?
Usufruct (YOO-zoo-fruhkt), means: “The right to use the property of another as long as it isn't damaged.” And they give the example of “She shall have the usufruct of field and garden and all that her father gave her so long as she lives, but she cannot sell or assign it to others.”
Okay that is the legal term and definition of an act, which most of us will rarely, if ever have official access to. However, in another sense, most of us have the regular opportunity to use the property of others, as long as it is not damaged. We do this most with Family and work properties, don’t we? But how many of us extend that legal right into borrowing things without express permission given or even Known? And even when having express permission, use them for things we were not given permission to use them for? Again something to think about isn’t it?
So when you next “Borrow” something, always ask yourself if you really do have that right; and even then, make sure you use it for the purpose you borrowed it for. And, if or when, damaged, take for responsibility for it instead of denying all responsibility, as it is not really yours anyway! Again something to think about now. Yes, are you really legally usufructing? Or just plain stealing?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Aspidistras making a comeback again.

Was interested to learn that in some circles, Aspidistras are making a comeback again in some gardener’s minds. Now if you don’t know what an aspidistra is: according to Wikipedia, the Aspidistra elatior ("cast-iron plant") is a popular foliage plant, grown as a landscape plant in shaded spots in areas with mild winters, or as a houseplant elsewhere. They are grown for their ability to survive neglect and very shady conditions, indoors and out. As a popular foliage houseplant (particularly in British boarding houses), the plant became popular in late Victorian Britain, and was so commonplace that it became a symbol of middle class values. As such it was central to George Orwell's novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying, as a symbol of the middle class's need to maintain respectability - according to Gordon Comstock, the novel's protagonist. It was further immortalised in the 1938 song "The Biggest Aspidistra in the World", which as sung by Gracie Fields became a popular wartime classic.”
Thus we see that it is a hardy Green garden plant that can grow in heavy shade and under very adverse conditions, and thus was both a very popular indoor plant as well as a common outdoor plant too, until around the middle of the last Century, where because of its drabness and the popularity of other more colourful alternatives, it went out of favour rather until rather recently.
My mother had a very low water maintenance garden, long before it became popular like it is today. Back then, we only had tank water that had to provide for the seven of us. So little was available to be wasted on garden plants. If it couldn’t survive on limited water, then it had no place in mum’s garden. Not so though with the aspidistras plant! Thus among my earliest recollections of any plant at all of the many in mum’s garden, was the old Galvanised Bath tub full of aspidistra, at the bottom of the ramp at the back door under the big old plum tree. It was there, as it was the only plant hardy enough for the dry and the shade, even if it was rather drab looking.
In fact as hinted above, it was this drab looking plainness that caused them to go out of favour for a time. Again according to Wikipedia, up to the 1970’s, Most Garden Books only recognised eight to ten species, which repeats the knowledge of the late 1970s. In the 1980s, thirty new species were described from China. In fact based on current knowledge, China has the most species with some fifty-nine, of which fifty-four are endemic. In fact it is within this region that Aspidistra naturally inhabit the floors of East Asian forests from eastern India, Indochina, China and Japan. And according to Wikipedia, “new species are still being found, and the focus has shifted to Vietnam, from where 28 new species have recently been described; it is known that there are many more Vietnamese species. Currently 93 Aspidistra species have been formally described, and it has been speculated that there may be between two and three hundred. (Tillich 2008).”
So now you know as much about aspidistras as me. But before we leave the biggest aspidistra in the world, apart from its valuable service as a living plant in adverse conditions, they have one other use too! Can you guess what it is?
Again according to Wikipedia, “In Japan, leaves of this species have traditionally been cut into pieces and used in Bento and Osechi boxes to keep each food separated. However, imitations called 'Baran' are commonly used now. Several other species and cultivars are also in cultivation.”
Well that’s enough about Aspidistras for now, but what about you? Are you tough and Hardy and able to thrive under hard and difficult conditions like the Aspidistra? And are you useful for more than just one purpose too? Or are you just a “one trick pony” that fails under difficult and adverse conditions? And perhaps it is time for you to make a comeback of sorts too and to again show the world your true and enduing worth? Again over to you for now.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Moxie: Do you have it and on what is it based?

Moxie, the Word of the Day for Saturday, August 6, 2011, entered “common speech from the 1908 Moxie, a trademark name registered 1924 for a bitter non-alcoholic beverage; it was used as far back as 1876 as the name of a patent medicine advertised to "build up your nerve," and it is perhaps ultimately from a New England tribal word.”
It now has these 3 popular meanings:
1.Vigor; verve; pep.
2.Courage and aggressiveness.
3.Skill; know-how.
All of which leads me to our question for today: Whilst we all like to think that we have vigor, verve and pep, as well as courage, skill and know-how and even a little bit of aggression, I can’t help but wonder, how much do we really have and is it real? Or just something imagined by us or a sin the original Moxie, just something from a bottle? Again just something for you to think about now.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Do you suffer from Aporia?

According to the Word of the Day for Tuesday, July 5, 2011, aporia (uh-PAWR-ee-uh\) means:
1. Difficulty determining the truth of an idea due to equally valid arguments for and against it.
2. In rhetoric, the expression of a simulated or real doubt, as about where to begin or what to do or say.
So again, do you suffer from aporia in either of its two meanings? Yes, do you have trouble discerning the truth from seemingly equally valid arguments? And do you often have doubts about where and when to begin, because you don’t know what to say?
Well if you do suffer from these problems I don’t have the full answers for you but would humbly suggest that firstly when you have difficulty in discerning the truth between two or more conflicting arguments or opinions, please make no permanent decisions until you have been able to check out the true facts on each side, and from reliable sources too. Then, and only then will you be likely to be in a position to make a correct decision.
Secondly, if you have doubts as to where to begin, then usually it is best to go back to the beginning and work forward from there. Usually if you do that, you will quickly work out what you can safely skip and what you may even have to repeat, before moving on to your next point.
Well, hope that helped and bye for now.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Always remember Erma Bombeck's advice.

Now I am sure that you have heard that old adage that “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, many times, but have you also heard Erma Bombeck's very sage advice about Greener Grass?
Have absolutely no idea of who Erma Bombeck* was, but her advice about greener Grass is absolutely spot on.
She supposedly said, 'The grass usually looks greener over someone else's septic system'.
And how very true that is! Yes due to the extra water and the extra nutrients in a septic System, the Grass does indeed grow greener over people’s septic systems. (If they still have them these days?)
Now quite a few lessons can be learnt from this truth.
1. Firstly this can be a good or bad thing, depending on what you wish to use the Grass for. If just for mowing and keeping the place looking green, it can be both very good and very helpful. But as it will also contain much more nutrients that the grass really needs, it will make the grass rank and unpalatable to most animals grazing on it, unless further diluted some way. Thus not so good for raising livestock on it!
2. If also not properly drained, it can also make the soil around it too soggy to walk on too! Thus we learn yet again, that too much of a good thing, if not properly utilised, can be hurtful and not helpful.
3. We also see that sometimes it takes a lot of rubbish and effluent to produce growth. And thus we learn that what may be nothing more than excrement to one person, may be valuable fertilizer to another. Just depending on how you use it!
So today when you see someone’s apparent success, please look closer, because e all may not be as it seems. Also never look down at someone’s waste product, despise it or turn your nose up at it! (Pun intended.) Instead look to see if it is a good or bad thing, and if, how best, it can be utilised or at worst, neutralized. What say you now?

*According to Wikipedia, Erma Louise Bombeck (born Erma Fiste; February 21, 1927 – April 22, 1996) was an American humorist who achieved great popularity for her newspaper column that described suburban home life from the mid-1960s until the late 1990s. Bombeck also published 15 books, most of which became best-sellers.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Are you trig?

Trig, the Word of the Day for Monday, July 11, 2011, is another of those words that is both not used very often now, and also one with more than one clear meaning.
Thus trig, can mean either:
1. Neat, trim, smart.
2. To make neat or trim.
3. A wedge or block used to prevent a wheel, cask, or the like, from rolling.
4. In good physical condition; sound; well.
Now 3 of these meanings, although not the same in meaning are very close nonetheless. However, the 4th is quite different in meaning and purpose, isn’t it? So when, like in today’s title, I ask if you are trig, how would you respond?
1. Would you say that you and your life, is neat and trim, and smart looking?
2. Could you say that you are helping to make others neat and trim too?
3. Or would it be more truthful to respond that you are more of a wedge and a block to making others neat and Trim?
4. And finally, would you say that you are in good physical condition? Or would you have to say that you are not as trig as you would both like to be, and in fact should be?
Well over to you now. I’ve asked the questions, so it is now up to you to decide if you wish to answer them or not.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mondegreens –Everyone has made one.

Now you may not know what a mondegreen is, but I am pretty confident that not only have you heard at least one in your life, but that you have probably made one or two of your own along the way!
According to the “Hot word” blog, “A mondegreen is a misinterpretation of a word or phrase that shares homophony (sounds like) another word or phrase that has been heard.
Not to be confused with a malapropism, which is the unintentional improper use of a single word, mondegreens are often applied to a line in a poem or a lyric from a song – usually with amusing results.
Sylvia Wright, an American author, coined the term after a phrase she recalls mishearing as a young girl. According to Wright, the first stanza from the 17th century ballad “The Boony Earl O’Moray” goes a little something like this:
“Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where have ye been?
They have slain the Earl O’Moray
And Lady Mondegreen.”
The correct phrasing of the fourth line is actually, “And laid him on the green.” As Wright points out, many times mondegreens can seem to be of superior quality to the actual words.
James Gleick, an American author and journalist, believes the mondegreen is a distinctly modern event. “Without improved communication and standardization of language which accompanies it, there would have been no way for this shared experience to have been recognized and discussed.”
The Blog then lists some Mondegreens from its readers. Here are some of them:
“’Scuse me while I kiss this guy “(‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky from “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix)
“Alex the seal” (Our lips are sealed from “Our Lips Are Sealed” by the Go-Go’s)
“Hold me closer Tony Danza” (Hold me closer tiny dancer from “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John)
(An example of a reverse mondegreen is Iron Butterfly’s 1968 hit “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” which was originally titled “In the Garden of Eden.”)
“Bingo Jed had a light on” instead of “Big ‘Ol Jet Airliner” from the 'The Steve Miller Band' song.
“There’s a bathroom on the right,” instead of “There’s a bad moon on the rise,” from Credence Clearwater Revival “Bad Moon Rising”
Another person added: “We sang “O, Susanna” in middle school chorus, which was the first time I realized that the line was not, “…with a Band-Aid on my knee.” As The Hot Word points out, my lyrics made more sense than “a banjo on my knee” — which I could not visualize at all.”
Rupert Holmes Pineapple, sorry, “Pina Colada Song” (Which is actually Called ‘Escape’) is another. Well that’s some other peoples! Here are a couple of mine now. My own most notable Mondegreens are “They call me Mad and yellow, instead of “mellow yellow” from Donavan’s “Mellow Yellow”.
Another was Savage Gardens “Animal Song” where instead of “When superstars and cannonballs are running through your head.” I heard “cannibals running through the jungle”
Well, they’re my mondegreens! What are some of yours that you feel like sharing now that you know you are not alone and that there is even a special name for this modern phenomenon?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Are you Futilitarian? I’m Not!

Futilitarian, the Word of the Day for Thursday, July 7, 2011, means “Believing that human hopes are vain and unjustified.” (Futilitarian is a satirical coinage from the 1820s combining "futility" and "utilitarian.”)
Now while some human hopes and dreams are indeed vain and unjustified, I believe that all human hope based on and sustained by God, are not vain, nor unjustified. But conversely, all human hope not based on and sustained by God, is indeed futilitarian!
So whether one is futilitarian or not, depends on where your hope is truly based. If you would like to talk more on this subject, just let me know. Otherwise bye for now.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Basic headache Cures

Recently saw the following posted on Face Book:
“******* Has the worst head ache, can't get rid of it. Tried water, panadol please any other options????”
Then came the following advice:
1. Rest?
2. Rest??? More panadol, or nurofen...
3. Advil.
4. neck massage with lavander oil, and stretches of the neck,
5. Sleep!!
Now I am no trained medical practitioner, but as one who has been plagued with bad headaches for 20 years now, I have picked up a thing or two along the way.
First that there are headaches and then there are Head aches and then there are HEADACHES. So any steps in treating headaches are to find out the Cause and if possible avoid those causes.
Headaches have many causes. A few I have experiences are Stress. Weak neck Muscles or neck out of kilter with your body. Caffeine craving from chocolate and Coffee. And of course there are many other causes too!
So if you suffer any of the above problems, you need to try and resolve those issues for Future pain-free heads. Yes one first needs to reduce one’s stress inducers as much as you can, then live with the rest.
If neck pain, massages and even a new pillow, along with some neck strengthening exercises are all good.
If it is coffee or chocolate or any other food, you either need to cut it out all together or find kinds you can eat or drink IN MODERATION.
Okay, now let’s see if we can now answer the original question of how to get rid of a bad Headache and how good was the above advice to do so?
Many years ago Bex Aspirin ran a very prominent advertising program that said something along the Lines of Headaches? A Bex, a cup of tea, and a good lie down will fix you.
So their solution was medication, Hydration and a good rest. And it seems that that advice is still the best on offer. Now some can get away with just rehydrating and resting, for others it also needs some medication.
Then of course we come to the question of which is the best over the counter medication? Years ago one doctor I went to recommended taking both paracetamol and Aspirin together, which is my usual medication when I need to go that route. I have also tried ibuprofen (Nurofen/Advil) but found it not as effective for headaches, (but wonderful for back pain).
So again medication and the dosage, is really an individual thing, and you may, like me, have to try different ones, till you find the best one or ones, for you. But do always remember, medication is only part of the solution and you should not neglect diet, neck massages and exercises, hydration and of course, lots of rest.
And if all that fails, also follow that sage advice one often hears after medicine advertisements these days: “If symptoms persist, see your doctor or trained Medical Professional.” Again, always good advice to follow. What say you?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Very American

In a recent blog (“Pardon my Whatever”, which was a follow on blog from my previous, “Pardon My Xhosa / French”) I commented on a reply from my oldest younger sister in response to my original post, where she replied with: ““Pardon my French or whatever”? “Whatever” now is usually used in a derivative/ derogative way. It really means I don't care. Very American!”
Now I replied to her full comment in the “Pardon my Whatever” blog, so here I just want to address the comment: “Very American!”
Now as an Australian, I can understand why we sometimes (and often rightly so), get upset at any foreign (and not just American) invasion of our Language and Culture. But at the same time, I certainly don’t think that everything Foreign, or worse, American, is per se` wrong or corrupting.
So I have two pleas for you today, whether you live in Australia like me or in any Country other than America.
The first is please don’t reject anything, just because it is foreign or worse “American”. Again please accept or reject everything on its merit and worth to you.
Secondly, and to those Aussies out there that feel I should have used another non-American word instead of the one (whatever) that I did use to close of my original blog, please tell me what Aussie word I should have used? Thank you!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Do you use eisegesis or exegesis?

Now I do understand that while you may not exactly know either of these two words, every one of us, when we speak about a subject or topic known to us, do so using the method of one or the other of these two ways of interpreting words and subjects.
Eisegesis, which was the Word of the Day for Saturday, June 18, 201, is an interpretation that expresses the interpreter's own ideas, bias, or the like, rather than the meaning of the text itself.
Whereas, Exegesis, “is the critical explanation or interpretation of a text or portion of a text, especially of the Bible, with no bias or outside influences added.”
In other words with eisegesis, one is saying authoritarily, but not always correctly, “That this is what I think the text is saying”. Where with exegesis, one is saying, also equally authoritarily, “This is exactly what the text is saying, with nothing extra added by me.”
So when you speak, whether on a Biblical subject, or on something much more mundane, do you use eisegesis or exegeses? Over to you for your reflection now.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Pardon my “Whatever”.

In a recent blog (Pardon My Xhosa / French.) I concluded with the following statement:
“Which finally brings us to our point today. Whether in French, Xhosa, any of the thousands of other languages currently in the world, or even in modern idiom, what words or expressions are you currently using, that the people that you are speaking to have no clue, what you are saying and by rights you too should be saying, “Pardon my French or whatever”? Over to you for now.”
Now there, I thought I had expressed the point I intended to get across quite clearly, but evidently not as I quickly received the following reply from my oldest younger sister. Where she replied with: ““Pardon my French or whatever”? “Whatever” now is usually used in a derivative/ derogative way. It really means I don't care. Very American!”
And to which I replied: “Wasn’t meant that way at all. In fact when I read your comment I wondered where it came from. My 'whatever" was meant as shorthand for "whatever other recognized spoken language" I might have used instead. But thanks for your comment as it again shows that what one means, is not always what others see/hear/read!”
So, with that for background, if my original blog confused or mislead you in any way, please pardon my “Whatever”?
In the meantime what are some other examples of misunderstood messages do you have?
Or even better, what are some other modern idioms that you either use a lot or just drive you crazy or ‘whatever’?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pardon My Xhosa / French.

Now I am sure you have all heard the idiomatic request to “Pardon my French”, when someone has used a swear word in polite circles. But have you ever wondered where the expression came from and why it was French and not say Spanish or Portuguese or any other language for that matter, that you were being asked to pardon?
Well I was reading somewhere (Hot Word Blog) that: ““Pardon my French,” or “excuse my French,” is an apology for the use of profanity; the expression dates from 1895. Pardon is derived from the old French pardoner meaning, “to grant, forgive.”
Well fairly elemental so far there, so now let’s look as to why French and not some other language. And the answer is probably both Geographical and Historical!
Yes, it is probably because, being closest to England and being at war with England for many, many centuries, all things French would have been looked down on as profane, by the English.
And as a complimentary “explanation suggests that during the 19th century, the English often used French words in conversation – a foreign language to most people living in England at the time. Realizing the listener may not have understood, the speaker would apologize by saying, “Pardon my French.”
The latter particularly is a very reasonable explanation I feel, based on my own personal experiences in totally different parts of the world.
Many years ago, when we thought we might be going as missionaries to a French speaking country in Africa, I tried to learn French for a while. Even bought a set of Second hand Lingaphone French language records and such. At one stage, I even worked with a French speaker from Mauritius, unfortunately he didn’t think very much of my early attempts, and when the French countries closed their doors to us metaphorical speaking initially, we looked (supposedly temporarily) at some English Speaking countries in the short term. That very briefly is how we ended up In the Then Republic of Transkei, now back as part of South Africa) working with the Xhosa people there, for nearly 12 years.
And although I tried hard to learn Xhosa, I succeeded only to the degree that I knew and could speak certain phrases as well as many Xhosa, but I never really understood the language enough to carry a full conversation in it.
None the less there were are certain words and phrases that we learnt and used so commonly, that even today, nearly 9 years out of there, I still occasionally have to say to someone , pardon my Xhosa! Not because I was swearing at them; just using a word they had no clue of the meaning let alone origin.
Which finally brings us to our point today. Whether in French, Xhosa, any of the thousands of other languages currently in the world, or even in modern idiom, what words or expressions are you currently using, that the people that you are speaking to have no clue, what you are saying and by rights you too should be saying, “Pardon my French or whatever”? Over to you for now.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Transkei, the place to die, not!

When we lived in the former Republic of Transkei, (now part of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa), there were occasional stories of Dead people coming to Life. One time the coffin bearers were carrying the coffin of a deceased young lady to the Umtata Cemetery, when they dropped it and the women came back to life. (Sadly she died again a week later.) And in a land saturated with witchcraft and animism, this scared the daylights out of the living as you would expect.
I was reminded of this event upon reading a recent Newspaper article about an event in nearby Libode (approx. 30 Kms from Umtata, now spelled Mthatha.) Here is the report:
“By SAPA, 2011/07/25 'Dead' Man Wakes Up in Transkei Mortuary
A 50-year-old asthmatic man presumed dead by his family woke up inside the morgue of a private undertaker at Libode in the Transkei region on Sunday afternoon.
The man, whose name has been withheld, lost consciousness while asleep at his home in a nearby village on Saturday evening, said Eastern Cape health department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo.
"His family thought he had died," Kupelo told Sapa."The family called a private undertaker who took what they thought was a dead body to the morgue, but the man woke up inside the morgue on Sunday at 5pm and screamed, demanding to be taken out of the cold place."
He had been there for nearly 24 hours.Kupelo said the two mortuary attendants who were on duty at the time ran out of the building thinking the screaming man was a ghost.They called for help, put on brave faces and went back to find that the man was indeed alive.
"We sent an ambulance to the funeral parlour to take the man to Saint Barnabas Hospital because he had been exposed to extreme cold for nearly 24 hours," Kupelo said.
He warned the public not to assume that a sick person had died and call a mortuary.
"Doctors, emergency workers and the police are the only people who have a right to examine the patients and determine if they are dead or not," said Kupelo.”
Now the above may sound funny to us at this distance, but to the people there, it would not have been funny at all. Especially for “the corpse”! Fortunately this story had a happy ending -this time!
But happy ending or not; Funny or sad, the real lesson here for us all to learn in every part of our lives, is to NEVER PRESUME ANYTHING!
Again never presume anything, but always have everything checked out by those who are experienced in that or those, particular matters.
In the above story, “The body” passed along through various people, but none of them were actually qualified to make the pronouncements that they did!
What about you and I? Are we always qualified to make the assumptions and pronouncements we make? Or should we be more careful in future and leave such assumptions and pronouncements to the experts? Over to you now for your comments.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Is your life Canonical?

Being canonical does not mean that you are or ever will be included in the Cannon of the Bible, but you can still be canonical in other ways though! So, thew question is not if you are in the Bible at all! No! The question is: is your life authentic, recognised and accepted by those around you? Or in other words: Can your life be used as a measuring line for others? If so, then you are canonical. For as well as being included in the Cannon of the Bible, that is what Canonical, the word of the Day for Monday, July 18, 2011, means:
1. Authorized; recognized; accepted.
2. Included in the canon of the Bible.
3. In mathematics, (of an equation, coordinate, etc.) in simplest or standard form.
Also, Canonical derives from the Late Latin canon, meaning "measuring line."
So if you live an authentic life, you will be recognised and accepted by those of Like mind and you will also be seen by others as a measuring line or standard for them to emulate and live up to.
So again and in Closing: Are you Canonical today? And if not, what do you need to do to become so? Over to you now.

Is your life Canonical?

Being canonical does not mean that you are or ever will be included in the Cannon of the Bible, but you can still be canonical in other ways though! So, thew question is not if you are in the Bible at all! No! The question is: is your life authentic, recognised and accepted by those around you? Or in other words: Can your life be used as a measuring line for others? If so, then you are canonical. For as well as being included in the Cannon of the Bible, that is what Canonical, the word of the Day for Monday, July 18, 2011, means:
1. Authorized; recognized; accepted.
2. Included in the canon of the Bible.
3. In mathematics, (of an equation, coordinate, etc.) in simplest or standard form.
Also, Canonical derives from the Late Latin canon, meaning "measuring line."
So if you live an authentic life, you will be recognised and accepted by those of Like mind and you will also be seen by others as a measuring line or standard for them to emulate and live up to.
So again and in Closing: Are you Canonical today? And if not, what do you need to do to become so? Over to you now.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Zugzwang moments.

Now, you may not know what a Zugzwang moment is, but I’m pretty sure that, sad as they are, every one of us has had at least one zugzwang situation in our lives. A moment where we have just had to suck it up and make the best of a bad situation.
For that is what zugzwang, Word of the Day for Tuesday, July 19, 2011, actually means.
Yes. Zugzwang, describes a situation in which a player is limited to moves that have a damaging effect. While more commonly used in the Game of Chess, it is also used in everyday situations too. Here is one example they give: “Party rulers in China are trapped in a position that chess players deeply fear - zugzwang - where any move made puts you at disadvantage. -- Vitaliy Katsenelson, "How China Will Crash And Burn," Forbes, July, 2011.
Now unless you play chess, or speak German (Zugzwang combines two German words, zug, "move," and zwang, "constraint"), like me you may not be familiar with the actual phrase, although, as already said, I’m sure we have all been in a Zugzwang situation at least once, if not more than once before. And highly likely to face more too! So, how do we respond when in such situations?
Do we respond with the action that is least damaging to us personally? Or do we take the option of what is best for all, even if at our own expense? Again I will leave this question with you for your own personal response. But do remember when in your next Zugzwang situation, to choose wisely and not selfishly please? Thank you.

Monday, August 8, 2011

You say Batata, I say potato!

In a recent Blog, “The Dogs of The Canary islands,” I asked this question at the end: “What other incorrect perceptions have crept into English through the misunderstanding of the original language in which it was named? Such as “White Rhino” for instance, which isn’t white at all!”
Well not quite a misconception, but certainly a mispronunciation, is the English word Potato.
Was Looking at a South African (Swaziland actually) friend’s Face book page which had a picture of Batatas for sale in America.
Although I have lived in South Africa for many years and even visited Swaziland a handful of times I had never heard of Batata before. However on closer inspection I decided that they were in fact just one of the at least 3 different types of Sweet potato growing there.
So turning to my new latest friend, Wikipedia I read this: “Batata is the word for sweet potato (Latin: Ipomoea batatas) in many languages (e.g. Spanish, Italian, Hebrew and others), apparently from the Taíno batata.
Batata is the word for potato (Latin: Solanum tuberosum; only distantly related to sweet potato) in some languages, e.g. Portuguese, Marathi, some Arabic variants and others. The English word "potato" itself is derived from the Taíno batata.”
In another article, this time on Sweet Potatoes, Wikipedia also had this to say: “Although it is sometimes called a yam, the sweet potato is not in the yam family, nor is it closely related to the common potato. The first Europeans to taste sweet potatoes were members of Columbus' expedition in 1492. Later explorers found many varieties under an assortment of local names, but the name which stayed was the indigenous Taino name of batata. This name was later transmuted to the similar name for a different vegetable, the ordinary potato, causing confusion from which it never recovered. The first record of the name "sweet potato" is found in the Oxford English Dictionary of 1775.”
Being from Australasia, I was also interested to learn that 95% of Australia's production is an orange variety named Beauregard sold everywhere as sweet potato. A purple variety, Northern Star, is 4% of production and is sold as Kumara. Kumara is the variety most prevalent in New Zealand as a native Indigenous food acquired by the original Settlers of New Zealand, The Maori, sometime before arrival to the Country. Kumara is particularly popular as a Roasted food or in Contemporary cuisine, as Kumara Chips, usually served with Sour Cream and Sweet Chilli sauce. Occasionally shops in Australasia will label the purple variety "purple sweet potato" to denote it's difference to the other varieties.”
Well now that I have told you all that, this was originally meant to be a short blog about the way Batata was mistranslated into Potato, even though not quite the same plants. Or as Wikipedia says: “The English word "potato" itself is derived from the Taíno “batata.” So, saying that finally, I will now say goodbye for now!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Why is a Manse called a Manse?

Was talking to someone the other day about the manse and they asked me why it was called a manse? A good question and despite living in one for some time, I had no idea why it/they are called Manses. So I went to my good friend Wikipedia and culled the following information.
“A manse (ˈmæns; from Latin mansus, "dwelling", from manere, "to remain") is a house inhabited by, or formerly inhabited by, a minister, usually used in the context of a Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist or United Church. The implication is that the minister has been called by God and will remain until he/she is called elsewhere.
When selling a former manse, the Church of Scotland always requires that the property should not be called "The Manse" by the new owners, but "The Old Manse" or some other acceptable variation. The intended result is that "The Manse" refers to a working building rather than simply apply as a name.”
So now, you and I both, know why a house occupied by a Church minister is called a manse.
Just as a footnote of sorts, in some other denominations, it would/could be called a Parsonage or a Vicarage.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Where do canaries come from?

In a recent blog, “The dogs of The of Canary Island, I informed you (If you needed informing) that the Canary Islands were not named after canaries at all, but in fact the English name came from the Latin for Dogs. Thus The Canary Islands got their name from dogs and not from the Canary bird as most people erroneously believe!
Which is all very fine and interesting, but where in fact did Canaries call home, before they took wing to all parts of the world?
Well! Rather coincidentally, they do in fact come from the same part of the world, including, but not exclusively to The Canary Islands themselves. In truth the Canary is native to three major island Chains in the Atlantic Ocean off the North African Coast.
Thus according to Wikipedia, “The Canary (Serinus canaria), also called the Island Canary, Atlantic Canary or Common Canary, is a small passerine bird belonging to the genus Serinus in the finch family, Fringillidae. It is native to the Canary Islands, the Azores, and Madeira. Wild birds are mostly yellow-green, with brownish streaking on the back. The species is common in captivity and a number of colour varieties have been bred.”
Wikipedia also adds that, “This bird is the natural symbol of the Canary Islands, together with the Canary Island Date Palm.”
So although the Islands are not named after the Birds, but after dogs instead, and although dogs and not birds are on the Country’s Heraldic Shield, Canaries are still, widely acknowledged on The Canary Islands. So now you know where canaries originally came from.
Talking about canaries, are they still popular these days? They were very popular in the middle part of the last century and it seemed everyone had or wanted a “Whistler”. (The Male.)
My Mum, and two of her sisters, used to breed and sell Canaries from their Homes (And swap breeding birds between them). My wife and I also had a canary when first married, but soon moved over to Budgerigars, as they were (Much) easier to breed and rear! What about you? Did you ever have, or breed, any birds?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Dogs of The Canary Islands.

In a recent blog, “Hagar The Horrible’s perpetration of an incorrect Myth.” I mentioned that I was disappointed at the incorrect and misleading information implies in it. And of course that misleading information, which was implied, was what most people already mistakenly believe! And that is, that the Canary Islands were named after the Canary bird.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Normally one would say that, that information was a load of Bull! But in fact, it is a load of Dogs. Yes the Canary Islands was named not after the Bird, but called this from the Latin term for the ‘Dogs*’ found there. (And yes, Islands! There is a whole chain of them there.)
The following is from Wikipedia and explains it better than I can: “The name Islas Canarias is likely derived from the Latin term Insula Canaria, meaning "Island of the Dogs", a name applied originally only to Gran Canaria. It is speculated that the so-called dogs were actually a species of Monk Seals ("sea dog*" in Latin), critically endangered and no longer present in the Canary Islands. The dense population of seals may have been the characteristic that most struck the few ancient Romans who established contact with these islands by sea.
Alternatively, it is said that the original inhabitants of the island, Guanches, used to worship dogs, mummified them and treated dogs generally as holy animals. The ancient Greeks also knew about a people, living far to the west, who are the "dog-headed ones", who worshipped dogs on an island. Some theorize that the Canary Islands dog-worship and the ancient Egyptian cult of the dog-headed god, Anubis are closely connected, but there is no explanation given as to which one was first.
The connection to dogs is retained in their depiction on the islands' coat-of-arms.”
So! We not only see that the name of the Canary Islands has absolutely nothing to do with Canaries at all. (Although some are found there too.) But we also see that a very common and popular conception is both false and wrong, because of the confusion in sounds of words of other languages and our own. Again just warning us all to make sure that what we think we hear, is what the other person actually means.
Also and equally important, we always need to be sure of our facts before we pass them on to others don’t we?
What other incorrect perceptions have crept into English through the misunderstanding of the original language in which it was named? Such as “White Rhino” for instance, which isn’t white at all!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hagar The Horrible’s Perpetration of an incorrect Myth.

As regular readers of these blogs may have already twigged by now, I like comics and get a few good ideas and lots of interesting, if not always useful, information from them.
Among my favourites would normally be Hagar the Horrible. However at the moment I am a bit concerned about the misleading, although not totally incorrect (but still misleading) information implied in a recent Hagar cartoon.
This particular strip has Hagar’s wife and daughter sitting at the dining table in the house, with lots of white space around them and all over this white space is written repeatedly, Chirp! Chirp! Chirp!
There, the daughter (Honi) says to her mother, “Daddy likes to bring back souvenirs from his travels, doesn’t he?” And her mother responds despondently, “Yes…. He just returned from the Canary Islands!”
So your task today is to tell me why I found this cartoon misleading and also to tell me what is the false information and myth that it is incorrectly perpetrating by its implication? Over to you now.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pathos or Bathos?

In an earlier blog, “Patios or Pathos? I discussed the difference between the two words. When looking up Pathos in the dictionary, I also discovered that it also gets confused with Bathos as well!
Now if you have read the earlier blog, you will already know that Pathos, means:
1. The quality or power in an actual life experience or in literature, music, speech, or other forms of expression, of evoking a feeling of pity or compassion.
2. Pity.
3. Obsolete. Suffering.
Whereas Bathos means:
1. A sudden ludicrous descent from exalted to ordinary matters or style in speech or writing.
2. Insincere or excessive pathos.
3. Triteness; flatness.
4. The lowest point; nadir.
Interestingly the word itself comes from the Greek Bathus, which means depth, or deep and where we also get our word Bath from.
Well! Whether you wanted to or not, you now know the difference between Pathos and Bathos. The only question that remains then, is whether you are pathos and evoking compassion? Or whether you are Bathos and seen as insincere and trite?
Of course the same question can also be quite well asked of my blogs too! Well, again it is over to you now.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Patios or Pathos?

Patois is one of those words where I always thought I knew what it meant, but have since discovered that I was thinking of the meaning of pathos and not patios.
Patios, the word of the Day for Friday, July 8, 201, I have since discovered, actually means:
1. A regional version of a language differing from its standard, literary form.
2. A rural or provincial form of speech.
3. Any jargon or private form of speech.
A clearer sense of the word’s meaning comes from understanding its origin: Patois enters English in the 1600s from the Old French patoier, "to handle clumsily."
Which is how some people say us Australians, and me in particular, speak English! Lol.
Anyway, patios means something slightly different or a little clumsier or rougher than the original. And particularly in regard to speech. Pathos, on the other hand means:
1. The quality or power in an actual life experience or in literature, music, speech, or other forms of expression, of evoking a feeling of pity or compassion.
2. Pity.
3. Obsolete. Suffering.
So although sounding similar there is a great difference of meaning between the two isn’t there? Thus once again I am reminded of the danger of always thinking you have things right and don’t need to learn more! Which is one reason I enjoy writing these blogs as I find information that stretches me, and I hope, you too!
Anyway, now you know that patios means a rough or clumsy copy of the original, while pathos, means having pity or compassion, which word best describes you? And what are some other words that sound similar but are totally different in meaning?