Archive for March, 2011

Mar 17 2011

An Ode to the English Language

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An Ode to the English Language

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and there would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. There is no egg in
eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren’t invented in England. We take English for
granted, but if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can
work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from
Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write, but fingers don’t fing, grocers
don’t groce and hammers don’t ham?
Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend?
If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of
them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship…
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
in which your house can burn up as it burns down,
in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and
in which an alarm goes off by going on.

And in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother’s not Mop?

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Mar 13 2011

Prayer: My technic

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Disclaimer: my intention is not to preach or teach but rather provide an inside look at what I consider makes me human in a technological advanced world.

As Professor Buell mentioned “One of Mumford’s central claims is that more fundamental than tools were technics that allowed prehumans in the process of hominization (becoming human) to stabilize and cohere their unconscious and their social relations. Dance, then ritual and myth were central the technics they used for this, Mumford argued. You’ll remember that Robinson Crusoe used his journal and reading of the Bible to do something very much similar to this”. I would be lying if I said I got all of what Mumford was talking about  but I did gather that he was making a parallel development between human tools ( both man and divine being made ) and social organization such as language and rituals (dance/ myths). I guess for me I would pick a route similar to Mumford and Crusoe and say its prayer.

Prayer is its own form of machine and very prominent in my life. I am required to pray five times a day and each time is very similar but also very different. Crusoe had his bible and his journal to keep count of his adventures and connection to the divine being; I have prayer ( Salaat). There is a language that goes with it (Arabic), a dance (more like steps one must follow) and it is a ritual repeated at different times of the day. I guess knowing that every prayer is my assertion that I am doing what I was created for makes me human. Every time I stand on my prayer rug and start my prayer I am reminded that I am about to both physically and spiritually be reminded of what is expected of me.

It is said that the prayer is the best act of worship and connects you to the divine being. It is like a machine with a pre set time to maintain it and when the clock strikes out  (adhan : call to prayer) you must attend to it. Tardiness is not tolerated or advised. The machine stands in one place and does not move ( facing Mecca).

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