Wednesday, February 15, 2012

a bug up yer butt

During the course of any given day, I can be found with my nose buried in a dictionary. The kind you can hold in your hands. That weighs about 10 pounds. And has the actual origins of words along with various definitions, including slang. I love dictionaries for a lot of reasons. Mostly because I am often astonished at just how ignorant many people are in both usage and understanding of said words.

Case is point:

Someone I know by way of someone else (i.e. they are an acquaintance of sorts by virtue of our friendship with a woman we each know respectively) was compelled to write a note on my FaceBook wall to tell me that a certain quote was not "proven" to have been said by the supposed author of the quote. She also stated that she is "relentlessly pragmatic". Being as how I am only acquainted with her via my friend, and knowing only what I have been told by this friend, I have little to go on other than various exchanges we (my friend and I) have had about this other person. She seems a very intelligent and kind woman, devout in her work and her desire to help other authors get their due. Again, all this is by way of things I have heard, not by my own personal interaction with this woman.

Anyway...the moment I read what she wrote, I immediately responded with "beware self-imposed limitations. Pragmatism clouds the waters of intuition and creativity." And then, immediately following that response, I grabbed my dictionary to look up the word...again. I already know what it means, but I wanted the origin(s) and a more detailed definition. Just because.

Here is what I found:

prag-mat-ic adj. [Lat. pragmaticus, skilled in business <Gk. pragmatikos <pragma, deed <prattein, to do.] 1. Concerned with causes and effects or needs and results rather than ideas or theories: PRACTICAL. 2. Of or relating to pragmatism.

prag-ma-tism n. 1. Philos. The theory, developed by Charles S. Peirce and William James, that the meaning of a proposition or course of action lies in its observable consequences and that the sum of the consequences constitutes its meaning. 2. A practical way of solving problems.

As soon as I finished reading the definitions, I thought perhaps I might send them to her. Then I thought not. Because the onus is not mine. I am not here to correct or otherwise educate those who consider themselves well-read or finely educated. Fact is, I know plenty of folks who hold both Masters and Doctorates who couldn't spell their way out of a paper bag, let alone give a correct definition for every word in our ridiculously complicated language. It is often a bit frightening to me knowing this. Particularly when I am in the hands of a medical professional. Someone once said that "experts" are usually well-versed in one particular subject, and completely devoid of an ounce of knowledge (sense!) elsewhere. I have found this to be alarmingly true. In any case, the whole point here is that it isn't my job to whack somebody over the head just because they don't know how to use a word properly. Also, who freakin' cares?!

I suppose the reason I was compelled to dash this out to the world is simply because I have some sort of bug up my butt today. Maybe it's the barometric pressure. Or the fact that I haven't yet had my chocolate. Or because I need a nap and am too stubborn to go lie down. Whatever the reason for the bug up my butt, one thing is certain: it is always better to find a way to laughter than to let the bug crawl further up one's butt.


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