Sunday, December 18, 2011

73. Words

C.W. said he was coming by to talk about our language, specifically the confusion about word meaning and word order. His antics have long since ceased to confuse me so I was scarcely surprised when he showed up at my door dressed as a monk. He smiled and raised his hand in a gesture of forgiveness as I opened the door.

Sed do absolutionem, fili mi,” he said.

“Get the hell out of the hall before someone sees you,” I said.

He looked confused.

“What is this ‘hell’ that I can remove from your corridor?” he said.

“Give me a break,” I said as I ushered him in.

“How does one ‘give’ an act of forcing a division?”

I grimaced. He sat and arranged his monk’s robe carefully before speaking.

“I have been learning Latin,” he said.


“Your modern English derives largely from that forgotten language, I understand.”

“Quite so.”

“So why all the confusion about word order?”


“Yes. In Latin, if one combines the words ‘house’ and ‘cat’ the order would make no difference.”

I thought for a moment, then said, “You have a point there.”

“And the combining of two innocent words for off-pigment purposes is beyond my understanding.”

“How so?”

“For example, you take a valid term used to describe a prolonged period of high winds.”

“You mean ‘a blow’”?

“Yes, my son.”

I ignored him.

“And then you attach to it the term used to describe what one does for a living …”

“That’s quite enough,” I said. “My wife is sleeping in the back room.”

“Speaking of your wife,” he said. “I have heard her on occasion use a term that I find particularly baffling.”

“And that is?”

“She refers periodically to a “Sinerase Date.”


“And that means?”

“That refers to the date that a politician with a checkered personal life uses to pinpoint the exact moment when he or she embraced a religious dogma.”

“I don’t understand.”

I explained. “That is the date before which one cannot question the politician’s past since, at that time, he or she ‘found religion’ and was absolved of all previous bad behavior.”

“Sort of a ‘Get out of Hell Free’ card?”

I smiled. “Sort of.”

“Does your so-called ‘news media’ fall for it?”

“Ask George W. Bush.”

He sighed. “I see.”

“Has this been any help?”

Blessings on you all. - C.W.
“My son,” he said. “Each day that I spend with your species causes its behavior to seem more to me like a puzzle hidden inside an egg FabergĂ© wrapped in a mystery.”

“You mean a FabergĂ© egg?”

“There you go with your word order again,” he said. He drew his monk’s hood over his head. “Ubi ubi est meus sub-ubi?”

Then, I swear, he crossed himself.

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