Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Words I Hate

We had a conversation once where we revealed to each other the word we most hated. His was "quonset" and mine was cuticle. I thought it would be cute a few months later to send him an envelope filled with all shapes and sizes of the word. He didn't think it was cute. It made him angry, in fact.
I don't have an issue with 'quonset' but I still dislike cuticle. It is the 'ik-llll' part that I despise. The abrupt change from 'ik' to the guttural 'lll'. The same unpleasant sounds appear in words like 'particle' and a similar shift occurs in 'municipal' and 'principle'.
Other words shift not into a guttural 'lll' but into a similarly nasty 'rrrr' such as in 'rectangular' where the pleasantly spelled 'lar' is pronounced with an ugly 'lrrrr'. Appearing also in 'spectacular' where the contrat between the meaning and that icky sound are profound, it is not nearly so annoying as when heard in 'nucular' which isn't even a word, but a bad bastardization of 'nuclear'.
Then there are the 'awwwww' words like 'mauve' and 'gaudy' and 'Maude' and 'tawdry' which at least ends in the upbeat 'ree' that perks it up and takes away the nausea caused by the 'awww'.
Is it odd to dislike the aesthetics of the sounds of a word? Is it a symptom of some deep psychological maladjustment or merely a sign of someone who wants all the world to be of pleasant sounds and shapes and colors and textures?
I wonder if he still hates the word 'quonset'? And if he has forgiven me for the little prank packet of words I sent so long ago?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

We Can Be Tribal Again

When we were tribal, many thousands of years ago, we lived with people night and day. We got up in the morning and greeted each other and adjusted the tasks at hand to the people present in order to get things rolling. We did those tasks in proximity to each other, doing some tasks together or maybe starting together and then one finishing, lending a hand to one another as we progressed. As we noticed some interesting thing, we could call it out and share it with others. If we encountered frustration, we could call that out and get a little moral support or even a helping hand if need be. If we felt something, we could announce it to check for normalcy and adjust our attitude if it was off or feel validated if others felt the same way. If someone annoyed us, we could gently tell them and get some feedback according to whether we or they were supported by those nearby, or we could just move our task over there by someone more closely aligned with our mood or style.

Then somewhere along the way, we got the idea we should shut ourselves away in separate homes, separate business locations, even separate offices within a larger business. We spent our evenings being entertained by a box with moving pictures and distracting sounds rather than with each other. Something was lost. That connection to the larger whole of society was weakened and that knowing how we as individuals were aligned with the larger group via that constant feedback was lost.

We got privacy but we lost connections and membership in an association of others.

Now we have FaceBook and Twitter and MySpace and email where we can send to a group and use reply all to answer to the group and we have some of that back. We can live tribal again.

We might be having a hard day and we can post that and friends will jump in with support. We might notice a beautiful sky and announce that and others will share their own observation or a memory or ask more about it. We might need ideas to solve a kid problem or be looking for a place to repair the car or need a product to remove a stain on a certain fabric, and someone out there is likely to have an answer or at least amuse us while we find it ourselves or console us if we can't. We can express an opinion and see who agrees or disagrees. We can learn from their responses.

It's the best of both worlds: We can leave the computer off and enjoy our privacy while we eat ice cream sandwiches in our underwear, or we can log on and chat and post and socialize with the tribe.