Quote of the day
The "War On Terror" makes us less secure.

What's in a word?

Did you ever wonder how language works and why words have the power that they do over us?

I enjoyed and learned a lot from the To The Best Of Our Knowledge radio show which originally aired on 10/23/05. You can still listen to it on line.

Of particular interest to me was Susan Corso's discussion of her book, God's Dictionary, in which she explains the etymology of various words. For example she explains that the word disappoint means to "not choose" which is the opposite of "appoint" which means to choose. So when we say that a person disappoints us, it means that we are not choosing them. What does it mean, then,when a parent says to a child "I'm really disappointed in you!"

On the same show is George Lakoff, a linguist, who discusses his ideas of "frames" meaning that words, in order to be understood, require us to conjure up a context to make sense of their meaning. He does a little riff on the expression, "tax relief" which implies that our government is afflicting us and that we require "relief" or protection from this unfair imposition. It made me wonder whether paying our taxes is a contribution to our society and the well being of our fellow citizens or an unfair affliction? Do you see yourself as a contributing member of society or as a victim requiring "relief" from being unfairly imposed on when you pay your taxes?

At any rate I highly recommend this show. You can go to the TTBook web site and listen to the show by clicking on the link below.

Link: To the Best of Our Knowledge.


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