My hometown paper, the Daily Times Herald in Carroll, Iowa, did me the honor of asking me to write an Op-Ed piece on why I think we should learn other languages. It’s a bit long, but they decided to run the full version with very few, minor cuts.
I hope you enjoy it! As always, I welcome any feedback you might have.
Hoplophobia /hplfobi/ – From the Greek hoplon (weapon) and phobia (fear). A fear of firearms or of armed citizens. Firearms instructor and writer Colonel Jeff Cooper defined it as a “mental disturbance characterized by irrational aversion to weapons.”
Obiter dictum /obdr dkt()m/ – [< classical Latin obiter dictum something said by the way < obiter OBITER adv. + dictum DICTUM n.]
An incidental statement or remark; something said by the way. Freq. (Law): an opinion expressed by a judge in discussing a point of law or in giving a judgment, which is not essential to the decision, and which therefore lacks binding authority.
Ever wondered how the ABC’s became the ABC’s? Was English always written like it is today? The answer is a resounding “Nope!” The Alphabet of today has gone through a lot of changes over the centuries. To catalog all of those changes would take a lot more time than I have available at the moment, so in this installation, I’ll just show you a couple of interesting things about Runes and their relationship to our current writing system.
The Runic alphabet is sometimes called “fuþorc” [futhorc] after the first 6 letters, much like our “ABC’s” comes from the first 3 letters and “Alphabet” comes from “Alpha Beta” from the Greek writing system. Futhorc was used by the Anglo-Saxons to write Old English and other languages. Can you see any similarities between the Runes and modern English letters?
Here’s a brief glimpse into the history of a couple of letters that are no longer used in modern English.
Paraprosdokian – (from Greek: “para” meaning “beyond” and “prosdokian” meaning “expectation”) a figure of speech, often utilized in humor, in which a sentence or phrase ends in an unexpected in a way, causing one to reinterpret the first part. I’m quite fond of using these, myself.
Here are some well-known examples:
“Take my wife, please.” — Henny Youngman
“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” — Groucho Marx
“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate.” — Henry J. Tillman
“I like going to the park and watching the children run and jump around, because you see, they don’t know I’m using blanks.” — Emo Philips
“I went to a restaurant that serves ‘breakfast at any time.’ So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance. — Steven Wright
“I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to, too.” — Mitch Hedberg
“I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.” — Will Rogers
“If I am reading this graph correctly, I would be very surprised.” — Stephen Colbert
“If I could say a few words, I would be a better public speaker.” — Homer Simpson
“It’s too bad that whole families have to be torn apart by something as simple as wild dogs.” — Jack Handey