Posts Tagged ‘language’

Phrase Malaise – ll

Sunday, September 28th, 2008


“The Proof Is In the Pudding”

No, it’s not. If the proof was literally in the pudding, all you would have is a soggy, piece of proof. The correct phrase is:

“The Proof of the Pudding is in the EATING. “

Well of course, Skippy! Doesn’t that make sense? Language MUST make sense if it’s to be an easy, agreed-upon, verbal or written exchange of thoughts between people.

If the incorrect use of the phrase makes more sense to you, don’t feel bad. You may be tapped to be the Vice Presidential candidate on the Republican ticket.

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Ideas That Made Too Much Sense. Part 3.

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

esperanto-symbol.jpg

ESPERANTO

The idea, of course, is noble. Construct one ‘universal language’ so that all the peoples of the world could communicate freely to foster peace and international understanding. Esperanto, which means ‘one who hopes’, was created to achieve this goal. It’s symbol (above) was designed to show the five continents being united by a common language (nah, I can’t see it either; I count 3 contact points – what am I missing here?).

Anyway Esperanto, created in the late 1800’s, once actually looked like it would flourish. The number of speakers grew rapidly primarily in the Russian empire and Eastern Europe, then in Western Europe and the Americas.

But then Reality reared it’s ugly head. There were problems – lots of problems. Among them:

• The language is based on European roots and sounds. Too bad for you, Asia; and Africa? Forget about it.

• Language needs a specific culture to flourish. It’s words are symbols which represent tangible objects and ideas. People in Hawaii don’t need many words to describe snowstorms and Eskimos really don’t care about a name for pineapples.

• Dictatorships hated the idea. Stalin called Esperanto ‘the language of spies.’ Nazis even executed some of its practitioners. And here in the United States, Joe McCarthy (who spawned Ann Coulter) said it was “a Communist language.”

Today, over a century after its birth, Esperanto is spoken by (generously estimating) about 1-million Esperantists. Just a verbal speck in a world of 5- or 6-billion people.

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