Monday, April 7, 2008

What's the Word?


DICTIONARY, n. A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic. This dictionary, however, is a most useful work. --Ambrose Bierce

I am in coffee-land, America, gulping decaffeinated brew (already had my caffeine fill) and was tryhing to get a sense for why language, why words mean so much to me.... I am sure I could trace it back to childhood trauma, social anxiety, or fears related to my neurology, or ongoing angst working in a service framework, where the highlight of my day is where someone asks, “what is lecithin good for?”


Working in a health food store does have advantages. I am a grocer. I do do my job well, but alas, I love words. I love language, and I love coffee which elevates my neurotransmittors, and brings my Tourette's Syndrome to new levels of animation. Caffeine, readily available in my workplace, is regularly vilified by our vitamin consultants. I feel it is unfair. I have reduced to only a few cups a day.


Still, I am getting ready to go back to school, and what is the inspiration? Well, I can start saying that I am not making very much money in the service world. I do not have medical insurance, and there is just nothing very inspiring about stocking apple cider vinegar, organiccally grown beef, and gluten free pastas. I am not particularly happy with fielding comments from those who ask, “are not helth food employees some of the more sickly people you see?”


I am going back to school, because I know -unlike in time's past- that teachiung is not merely something I could do, but something I could do, and do well. I could find some moments of satisfaction working with others excited aboiut learning....


Also, with a chronic limp, I have crossed out long distance running, and basketball as possible money-makers for me.


Neurology is a weird thing. From the time I was a 150 cell blastocyst to the present day, some thirty eight years later, I have experienced assaults to my nervous system from spinal meningitis, hydrocephalus, and epilepsy to unexplained lack of balance, dragging foot, and drifting attention span.... I mention the last one to beg forgiveness if my writing likewise seems to drift...


So, after all is said, I am still here, alive with a love of learning, a love of words, and a love of the histories that spill forth when words are cracked open.


From language we can see the truest meanings of our communications, the movements of armies, the influences of land mass, bodies of water, and the worship of Gods. It is fun to see where a word got its start, and more exciting to understand that each day we can find a older beginning than we found before. These are the thoughts that encourage me as I trudge on.


Thank you for reading.

6 comments:

obscurio said...

language, for me, was always something that belonged to others. my lack of education left me with a feeling of impoverishment and inadequacy. ashamed of my own voice.

say language now.

Ethyl Alcohol said...

Very well said. Let's live earnestly. :)

Nina Liakos said...

Good luck on your TESOL journey! Join the Electronic Village Online next January/February for a marvelous (and free) professional development opportunity!
Nina

Dennis S Hurd said...

Although I've been at the task of sharing the 'secrets' of Enlish for decades, I see it as something less heroic. From my point of view, language is simply a tool which can help one influence others.

Dennis S Hurd said...

Travels can be life-altering. I do wish you the best on all you take.

My focus has always been on technical writing though. This means I have spent most of my career helping people plan and simplify the language they produce. Some people try to use a language to show off. Yet, my students generally have to get someone to do something. The purpose of the language they study is concrete without a need to stimulate or give rise to curious thought.

simpleyesa said...

It's so amazing how blog set me free from this box-typed room i'm in. There was even one time that i thought i'm not climbing the ladder anymore and that my life's been stagnant for awhile.

Well, life has to move on. I do several things just to make my day, and that includes blogging.