Showing posts with label language. Show all posts
Showing posts with label language. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


 A question  was raised today as to whether the word  "verse" is a relevant antonym for the word "poetry". A reasonable question , as the person who raised the  issue provided  context for it by saying that his poetic practice had little relation to what the word has meant in decades and centuries past. 

My two bits about this (meaning,of course, a rapid  response without additional Google searching for sourche materials) happened to be that I enjoy the continuity between original intentions of the term and the broader tableau  of poetics and formulations it's meant to encompass in our time.Language is not a dead thing, and the meanings of words shift with the change of historical context. "Verse" as we commonly use it today hardly means the same verses we find in the Bible, but there is an etymology of the term , a history of how it was originally used and how that has morphed as technology, wars and immigration patterns have changed the way language is used; words are living things that evolve with human experience.

 I rather like the connection one can make between the Bible, the Torah and the Koran verses and the kind of work Whitman, cummings and ,say, Jackson McLow engaged in. It's a reminder that poetry is the ongoing attempt to use language in ways that deal with experiences and ideas that would other wise be in expressible. Besides that, i appreciate having the convenient antonym for poetry, mainly "verse", since it's useful and accurate hedge against monotony.Lacking   a useful substitute,one risks sounding like the voice that emerges a Google search on your cell phone, flat, without accent   or rhythm. It would be voice that creates high beam stares as listeners nod and commence to mentally balance their checkbooks.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Say it, don't splay it

Talking to people about their problems makes for frequent miscues of speech and grammar, a habit stemming from something no more profound than that most of us don't know how to talk about ourselves and our personal problems to another human being. Hence, we come to the habit of trying to sound clinical, distanced, as if we have some clear grasp on what's the matter with our inner lives or internal organs. Either way, it makes for low grade comedy, and it is struggle not to laugh out loud or lecture someone on sloppy usage. I want to keep the friends and acquaintances I have.

One of the most egregious uses I can think is the promiscuous use of "potentiality" when the simpler, punchier, less ambiguous "potential" would do a better job. There's a confusion of the number of syllables in a word with the precision of expression; the more trills the tongue has to
glide over, the clearer the communication.

Another coinage that sends static crackling through my ear is the frequent use of the bizarre formation "uncomfortability". Again, there's that self-concious nervousness that mistakes terms with centipede rhythms to be superior to more succinct words, but this instance is further problematized,(that is to say made more confusing) by an unintended, unEmpsonesque ambiguity. Are we to think the speaker is in a state of "discomfort", which is what one arrives at through context, or is he addressing his ability to be uncomfortability at will?

The literary possibilities are rich, but this is of no aid to someone who needs to make it clear that he needs an aspirin, a therapist, or a
licensed saw bones to alleviate the particular disorder, physical or psychic.

It's not that I object to multisyllabic words in everyday use, since one needs certain words to convey more elaborate ideas, but I do require that
the words exist, in the dictionary if not in nature.