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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Language Buzz

Today I'm feeling the Language buzz.  I was thinking about words that have dual meanings that are contradictory.  The two that came to mind are awful and pitiful.  Both are most commonly thought of as negative words.  The movie was awful.  That excuse was pitiful.  But fascinatingly enough, they didn't start out that way.  The original usage was a more positive one. The vista's view was awful.  The woman's life view was pitiful.  These sound strange to us now.  But at one time they would have been common place.  This is what makes language so fascinating.  You can change one word and make a world of difference.  The nuance of shading in language is amazing if you know what to look for.  One little change can make a little valley into a restricted gorge.  The meanings are the same.  The shade of meaning is different.  In American English, we even give words negative or positive meaning based on sounds.  Harsh sounding words tend to be negative, like gorge.  Soft sounding words tend to be positive like, lullaby.  Now by no means are these rules!  In American English, we have no rules!  Someone even pointed out that the vowel rule ( i before e except after c) is wrong more often then it is right.  But these guidelines give us a baseline to work from.  I find all these language histories and tidbits fascinating.  I think in weird patterns, probably why I had trouble in school, but it makes learning all these odd non rule patterns fun.

BTW I do not have any degree in this.  This is just my ramblings.  NOT YOUR PROFESSOR