I Wish I Had . . .

. . . Studied Latin.

I have a long list of things in my past I wish I had done differently, and my depression has to do with a lot of them. When I was depressed, I limited my options.

I thought I’d share some of those I Wish I Hads from time to time. Here’s the first one.

In high school and college, I studied French and Spanish. I didn’t study Latin.

French and Spanish are based on Latin. So is English. English was my best love and my strong suit in high school, and I knew I would be an English major in college.

It is said that to understand and use the English language well you really need to know Latin. But I never studied it. I thought I could get by without it. For an English major, how stupid is that?

If you study English language or literature, sciences, the law, medicine, government, et al (Latin for and others), you will be awash in Latin words and phrases.

In 17th and 18th Century, all educated English speakers would have known Latin. Our founding fathers were among those educated speakers. Our national motto, e pluribus unum, (out of many, one) is Latin.

Latin is supposed to be a “dead” language now, but it thoroughly permeates our English language. (Permeate, from the Latin permeare, to pass through.)

We use a lot of Latin words in every day English. Here Are Just A Few:

Agenda, bona fide, consensus, de facto, et cetera, facsimile, habeas corpus, incommunicado, media, non compos mentis, onus, per capita, quantum, renegade, semper fidelis, terra firma, ultra, versus.

Pretty good for a dead language, huh?

I read more non-fiction than fiction these days (biography, history, medicine, politics, science), and I frequently find myself having to stop and look up a Latin word or phrase I’m unfamiliar with. I’m reading the redacted Mueller report now, and it’s full of academic and legal Latin.

So yes, I kick myself regularly now that I didn’t learn Latin.

Peace and joy, and I hope your “I wish I hads” are few.

Thanks for reading my blog.

Marjorie Beck

On Language: Are you anxious or eager?

Today’s post is about the words Anxious and Eager.

Mary was anxious to buy a new car.

Sid was anxious to meet her.

We anxiously awaited the train.

All three correct, because anxious and eager mean the same thing, right?

Well, no.

Our language, being a living language, is always changing.

The English language would be much poorer today if the Norman French hadn’t invaded Saxon England in 1066 and brought with them a whole new vocabulary: words like ancestor, attain, bachelor, boutique, chevalier, clarinet, cul-de-sac–to name just a very, very few. Look up a list of English words of French origin and you will see just how thoroughly the French language embedded itself into English beginning with the Norman Conquest.

Similar things happen on a smaller scale whenever English-speaking peoples come in contact with people from other civilizations and cultures: From Greek, we get atlas, chaos, muse, and democracy, the very foundation of our government,

Mogul and Mantra from Hindi,

Algebra and Coffee from Arabic,

Angst and Kaput from German,

And last but not least, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and eight other U.S. state names, plus hundreds of county, town, river, and creek names from the Native American people displaced from their lands by their European invaders.

It seems early settlers loved Indian places names, but Indian people themselves–not so much.

Okay, back to anxious and eager.

The foundation of modern English and the Romance languages (Spanish,PortugueseFrenchItalian, and Romanian ) is Latin.

The word Anxious comes from Latin, and means uneasy, greatly troubled by uncertainties. The origin of Eager is also Latin, and means enthusiastic, wanting to do or be something very much.

Now go back to the three questions above.

Was Mary uneasy or greatly troubled about buying a new car? Or was she enthusiastic, wanting to do it?

She could have been either, depending on circumstances, but most likely the prospect of buying a new car made her enthusiastic and very much wanting to do it. Thus, she was eager .

The same could be said of the next two sentences: The desired word probably would be eager.

Yet nine out of ten times these days when you hear someone say anxious they really mean eager.

Language purists like me get their innards all twisted when they hear these meanings commingled. We don’t like perfectly good words taken over by other words that don’t really mean the same. We want anxious to mean troubled about something and eager to mean looking forward to something.

ALAS,

Language purists like me are fighting a losing battle on keeping words as they are. Because here we come to another truism about our living English language:

Over time, word meanings change.

Once, awful used to mean awe-inspiring. Now it means really bad.

Meat was once any solid food, as opposed to drink. Now it refers to animal flesh.

Not that long ago, if you said something was dear, you meant it was expensive. Now if you say something is dear, you probably mean it is loved and cherished.

This meaning migration is one of the things that makes English such a rich, vital language. Popular usage makes it happen, over and over again. We can’t stop it.

Anxious and eager could have different meanings to future English speakers. (Assuming there will be future English or any other speakers, given what we have been doing to our planet. But that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.)

HOWEVER,

In our lifetimes, I’m still a language purist. I’d still like to see us use anxious to mean uneasy or greatly troubled about something, and eager to mean greatly enthusiastic about it.

That’s my two cents’ worth.

As always, Peace and Joy,

And thanks for reading my blog.

Marjorie Beck

On Body Tattoos and Piercings

I’m showing my age in this post. It will not win me any fans.

Yesterday at the grocery store the young man who checked my groceries out had tattoos on both arms from elbow to wrist and face and ear piercings in more places than I would have thought possible.

He was a nice, personable young man. He provided good customer service. I enjoyed the transaction. Still, I couldn’t get past his tattoos and piercings.

I hate tattoos.

Anywhere on the body.

Always have.

Always will.

I hate piercings.

Anywhere on the body except the ears.

I like pierced ears, on both women and men.

I even like multiple ear piercings, although I’m told it’s not good to have piercings in the cartilage, as some people do.

I pierced my own ears, with an ice cube, a cork, and a needle, when I was in college. OUCH!! The holes came out uneven. I’m considering having them redone professionally.

Back to Tattoos: I do have a few friends with tattoos, but I like them, anyway. (The friends, not the tattoos.)

Unlike my friends with their one or two tattoos, people these days get their arms, legs, and other body parts totally tattooed.

I think the only people who should wear tattoos are Polynesians. Polynesians look good in their tattoos. Their tattoos have class.

As for all the non-Polynesians with their totally-tattooed body parts, I want to ask:

What about your body made you think it would look better with tattoos?

When you’re old and your skin has turned to crepe paper and your tattoos are sagging into your wrinkles, will you still be glad you have them? Or will you wish you had never done them?

Back to Piercings: Why do you like to adorn your eyebrows, nose, lips, tongue, nipples, belly button, whatever, with studs and rings and whatever?

When you’re 80 years old, will you still enjoy having those studs and rings in your tongue and your lips and your nose and all those other body parts?

Just wondering.

Peace and joy to all tattooers and piercers anyway,

Marjorie Beck

Thanks for reading my post.

I Like You, Too! Wanna Follow Me?

A bunch of people are liking some of my blog posts recently.

Far Out! (She writes, showing her age.)

Thanks to you all. It makes my day to attract new readers.

If you like my posts, I hope you will decide to follow my blog. I may do the same. (Follow your blog, not mine.)

Peace and Joy,

Marjorie Beck

In Our Thoughts and Prayers

Continuing the religious theme of the last post . . .

As an atheist, I don’t pray.

And I don’t particularly like to hear the words “in our thoughts and prayers” because it so often seems a tired cliche people trot out when they hear something bad has happened to someone somewhere, so they don’t have to do anything more substantive about it. When I hear that, my reaction is usually, “Yeah, right.”

I have had people pray for me, though, in my presence, and it will probably surprise you that I don’t mind it. In fact, I’m often touched by it.

Here’s why:

Usually the person is someone who I know is secure and genuine in his or her faith;

The person respects that I don’t share that faith;

The person has a kind and loving personality and genuinely cares about other people;

And the person genuinely cares about me.

If all four factors are present and the person wants to pray for me, I accept and appreciate that show of care and kindness.

Proselytize me–No Way. Do it again, and I’m done with you.

Pray for me–Sure, if you’d like to.

We all need acts of care and kindness, of whatever form.

Peace and Joy,

Marjorie Beck

Thank you for reading my post.

Good Words: A Blog Mini-Feature

From time to time I run across funny, profound, or inspiring sayings I like, and some of them I’ll share as “Good Words” on my blog.

I’m not the least bit religious, but I really like the powerful image of  this one:

Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.

George Iles

 

On Springing Forward. . . and Falling Behind

When I was younger and in the grip of undiagnosed depression and anxiety, I was obsessed with time. There was always too much of it before an anticipated event, like a birthday or Christmas Eve or the junior prom, too little of it during the event itself.

I wanted to control time, and I couldn’t.

When I was very young, of course, time was not that important to me. It passed very slowly. Summer vacations from school went on forever, and it was glorious. As I got older, time sped up.

This seems to be true for just about everybody as they pass from childhood to adults. When you’re very young, it doesn’t occur to you that someday you might die. As you grow older, you become more . . .and more. . .and more. . . conscious that you certainly will.

As an adult, I particularly obsessed on the semi-annual time changes from standard to daylight saving time and back again. In the fall, I was delighted to fall back to standard time and get an extra hour for the day. In spring, I mourned the loss of that same hour all day as we sprang forward to daylight saving time.

After I retired, time slowed down again. With fewer obligations, I have become less time-conscious. Today’s change to daylight saving time bothers me not at all–except for having to reset the oven, microwave, and my car.

I am one of the growing number of people, though, who think we should ditch these semi-annual time changes altogether. We don’t really need them, they mess up people’s circadian clocks, etc.

Some states are doing it already, but it needs to be nationwide. Standard or daylight, I don’t care. If you do, speak up! Contact your congressional representatives.

In the meantime, I wish you peace and joy and all the time you want.

Thanks for reading my blog.

Marjorie Beck