green and blue

Take a moment if you can, and imagine that your world was just green and blue. Push your mind further still, and imagine that every person was either green or blue – not shades of green and shades of blue, but just a singular green or a singular blue.

Now imagine that you could see a colour outside of this green or this blue – maybe something in between, or something new altogether. What if you saw yourself as a different colour, or you saw the people around you in different colours?

But “most people” only see the singular green and the singular blue. There is no word to express or describe the colour you see. The people around you are confused because they don’t see what you see. No one has ever been told that other colours are possible, but you’re sure that you’ve found a third colour.

What then? Continue reading

egregious word play

It’s interesting the things that we pick up from others when we spend enough time with them – little mannerisms, phrases and perhaps even perspectives and attitudes.

A colleague of mine (MM) some time ago mentioned that she’s started asking “how’s things?” as an alternative to “how are you?” because she’s heard me say it so much. I hadn’t even realised I said it so much until she mentioned it, nor did I realise it’s grammatically incorrect until just now when I wrote it out. Well, not like anyone ever questioned my question before anyway…

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writing by hand

I learnt to touch-type sometime around Grade five. The vast majority of my writing is on the computer, but I still like handwriting things sometimes. In fact, there are times when I actually crave it, and I feel a need to pick up a pen and just write something.

Kids these days, I believe, are probably learning to type at a younger age. It is essential, surely (maybe not at that age, but in their lives it will be an essential skill) but so is good handwriting. I’ll not be the first to lament the declining value placed on handwriting – I’m sure I’ve read and heard plenty of people reflect on this subject before – so, instead, let’s celebrate what handwriting there is to celebrate.

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a logophile’s quandary

For the longest time now – like, seriously, I can’t even tell you how long – I’ve been meaning to write a post about some of my favourite words. At one point I even started compiling a list, but then I realised that there were just too many words for one post. Then I thought of that A-Z blogging challenge that some of the bloggers I follow participate in from time to time, and I thought that’d be a good way to space it all out, but then it’s so much effort…

Let’s be realistic here – it’s probably never going to happen.

And I can’t just write about my most favourite word because that always changes, and mostly it’s just too hard to pick just one word at any one point in time. What I did notice along the way, however, is that I seem to have an affinity for words containing the letter C, or words that have a C-like sound in them. This does not, however, mean that I like all words that fit this bill. I’m also not sure if the presence of the letter C is just a coincidence (which it could be because I also like words that are C-free).

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I had an interesting conversation with some colleagues the other day about the use of hyphens. DT seems to have a particular interest in words that aren’t spelt phonetically (or that are spelt phonetically but could be pronounced in alternative, more interesting ways), so we talk about various peculiarities of the English language from time to time.

This particular conversation arose when DT noticed that I hyphenated the word “thank-you”. (I would like to clarify, however, that I only hyphenate it when used as an expression or a noun, but not when “thank” is used as a verb. For example, if I received a nice comment on a post, I might reply with a “thank-you”, or I might write “I would like to thank you for your comment”.)

Anyway, the upshot of this brief discussion was that I found out that I hyphenate more often than others. Well, there were only three of us in the conversation, but I felt sufficiently disheartened by the lack of concurrence with my use of hyphens to not ask anyone else… Instead I’m writing about it here, to share with even more people! My logic is great. (I wasn’t actually that disheartened. I think we were just busy, so the discussion was cut short prematurely.)

Apparently, my colleagues do not hyphenate “week-end” either, preferring to write it as “weekend”. I have noticed that my phone’s autocorrect does recognise “weekend” but (as corny as this is going to sound) I feel like I’m not being true to my grammatical principles if I don’t add the hyphen, so I’ll take the extra second to add it in (unless I’m in a massive rush, or I’m really tired and couldn’t care less).

Also, it seems that “ice-cream” doesn’t need a hyphen either. When I went through primary school, I’m pretty sure I was taught to hyphenate all of these words. Does this mean our primary school curriculum isn’t standardised in relation to the use of hyphens? What other inconsistencies hide in our education system, waiting to be uncovered in awkward workplace conversations?

This seemingly innocent conversation brought up a lot of other questions about hyphens… Why does “weekend” get to be one word when the hyphen is removed, but “ice” and “cream” remain separate entities? Why have I never considered using a hyphen for “work-place” and other similar compound words? I’m suspecting that it simply has a lot to do with how the word looks when it’s written, and perhaps the way in which it is read. “Weekend” looks fine, but “icecream” does not (or does it?). But this is all so arbitrary! It’s almost like there’s no set rule because there’d be too many exceptions.

existence complex

Some time ago – I can’t remember exactly where or when – I learnt a new word: sonder. “Sonder” is basically the name for the realisation that all the people around you have lives that are as complex as your own. I think most places define it in a similar way, but I’m choosing to endorse the one on The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, which is also the first link that comes up on Google when you search “sonder”.

I have had this realisation before I learnt the name for it, but I suppose it’s nice to actually have a name for it (?) or, at the very least, it’s nice to know that other people have these realisations too. If I’m not overly stressed or tired or whatever, this is the sort of stuff that I ponder on my commutes to and from work. It’s great for giving a sense of awe, which is supposed to be good for well-being and stuff. (Yeah, I remember random stuff I read half a year ago.)

Being bored on the bus or train is actually a good time to practise this sonder-ing (not sure if this word has an official verb form). Usually, if one was to catch a bus somewhere, one would probably just get on, sit down (assuming the bus wasn’t already packed) and just stare out the window or read or do something on one’s phone for the duration of the trip. One doesn’t give any thought (let alone a second thought) to one’s fellow commuters, who undoubtedly encompass a whole gamut of emotions, thoughts and experiences. But if one was inclined (and perhaps a bit creative), one could probably think of elaborate back stories for everyone (some of which might not be entirely inaccurate).

Having a browse of The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows also uncovers this related word: gnossienne. (Ok, it wasn’t much of a browse, because it was (coincidentally) at the top of the page at the time that I was “browsing”.) It describes the moment that you realise that someone you’ve known for a long time still has this mysterious side that is completely unknown to you. I’ve also pondered this sort of stuff before and, again, it is sort of reassuring in a way to know that other people think about this stuff too.

All of this reminds me of a certain related yet opposing philosophy that I learnt about several years ago. I’m pretty sure there’s a name for it but I cannot recall what it is or may be, so we’ll have to live without it for now. The basic message is that you don’t have any way of knowing beyond all doubt that everyone else in the world is real (as opposed to figments of your imagination or of something greater than yourself). As far as you are concerned, no one – indeed, nothing exists unless it is in your immediate presence. (I may or may not have blogged about this previously, but am currently too lazy to find a link.) This, although unlikely (?), is true in a way, but I’m not sure if it makes me feel good or bad…