Archives for posts with tag: sounds

A word is a unit of language, a sound or a combination of sounds, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning. At least that is the definition. However, there are many words that I hear which do not fulfill that purpose. Meaningless words.

I know that the meaning of words can change over time. And words can have multiple meanings depending on context and a variety of other factors. But a word ought to mean something.

Homer, the legendary author of The Iliad and the Odyssey said, “Words empty as the wind are best left unsaid.” I agree. Yet in everyday conversation and in the media I often wonder exactly what is the point of the word or phrase that is used.

In Little Women, Louisa May Alcott said, “I like good strong words that mean something…” Me too, but daily I am bombarded with meaningless words.

For example, there is a commercial for an adult beverage that claims to be “colder, crisper, and cleaner.” A drink? A financial institution claims it is “the bank of here.” Not the bank of “there.” OK. A fast food chain urges you to “Eat like you mean it.” Huh? A popular hotel chain’s tag line is “Travel should take you places.” Duh! Meaningless words.

Also there are the words and expressions that we toss around without any intended purpose. “Bless your heart” certainly is not what it sounds like most of the time. Caroline Rogers, in Southern Living, says “It’s a versatile phrase that has a thousand meanings—and just as many possible responses. Southerners know that the meaning of the phrase depends on the tone in which it’s spoken, and a slight change in inflection or volume can make all the difference.” Meaningless words.

Another expression used by us Southerners is “Y’all come to see us.” That is just a friendly way to say goodbye. We don’t have any expectation of the person following up and actually paying us a visit. Meaningless words.

When I make a purchase at Home Depot or pay for my meal at Wendy’s drive-through window I am likely to hear “Have a good day” or more often than not it is “Have a good ‘un” as I leave. Meaningless words.

The Huffington Post suggests that “Our everyday language has become littered with terms, so nondescript and ubiquitous that we barely even register their presence.” The writer goes on to list the 12 words that have been so overused they really don’t mean anything anymore: literally, unique, awesome, amazing, totally, basically, incredible, really, very, and honestly.

Conversations and writings often utilize words like liberal, conservative, moderate, and progressive. The meaning of each of those words is so loaded according to the individual’s political, social, or religious position. Seventy years ago, George Orwell wrote the prophetic essay, “Politics and the English Language,” in which he noted that politicians, journalists and academics were increasingly using meaningless words and euphemisms to make “lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and… give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” I wonder what Orwell would say today.

I wonder if “Christian” is in danger of suffering the same fate.

Jamie Jenkins

What are other meaningless words?

Do you think “Christian” is becoming a meaningless word?

 

The world is an interesting place. I am constantly surprised by strange sights and sounds. Let me share a few.

Marietta Tree Protest

Just last week the local news media ran a story about a woman camped out in a tree. Jenifer Firestone, a resident of Cross Creek Condos, used a ladder to climb a giant oak tree in an attempt to discourage Georgia Power from cutting it down. Residents were protesting the utility company’s plans to cut down some trees as a part of a large scale infrastructure project in Northwest Atlanta.

Brian McCann 1

Major League Baseball Spring Training is about to begin and the Atlanta Braves are a team I hardly recognize. There has been a wholesale dismantling of the team in the past few years. Although several major trades have been made, the one I still cannot quite comprehend occurred in December 2013 when Brian McCann was  sent to the New York Yankees. Seeing him in a Yankees uniform seems wrong.

Donald Trump

Candidates for President of the United States have been campaigning for what seems like an eternity. The rhetoric has been rather acrimonious. Some of the verbal exchanges have seemed like they came from 5th graders instead of candidates for the highest office in the land. But the strangest part of this crazy countdown to election day is the sight of billionaire entrepreneur Donald Trump as a serious contender.

rush limbaugh

I do not usually listen to talk radio but with the threat of ice or snow last week I turned my car radio on to catch the weather report. While I was waiting for Kirk Mellish’s latest predictions I heard Rush Limbaugh say, “Bill Clinton is the reason so many black men are in prison.” Strange sounds.

Duck Billed PlatypusHave you ever seen a Duck Billed Platypus. If you ever wondered if God has a sense of humor the sight of one of these unusual animals ought to give you a hunch.

Ash Wednesday 2
Last week I attended an Ash Wednesday service. With so much talk about the younger generation’s disdain for organized religion, I was surprised and pleased to see hundreds of young adults present for the imposition of ashes at the beginning of Lent.

Rice Fields 2

On a recent visit to southern Spain I was amazed to see rice fields. Just south of Valencia, between Suecca and Cullera, the countryside is covered with rice fields as far as the ey can see. That was a sight I did not expect.

Malaysia Houses of WorshipMy family spent a couple of weeks in Penang, Malaysia over the Christmas holidays in 2013. It was a fascinating experience but one of the most interesting things was to see Christian churches, Hindu and Buddhist Temples, and Moslem mosques side by side, sometimes even sharing a parking lot.

Diverging Diamond 1

Talk about a new idea. What about the new and rapidly expanding traffic control configuration called the Diverging Diamond. In the fall of 2000, Gilbert Chlewicki was a graduate student in transportation engineering when he decided he wanted to develop a new design and write a term paper on it. The result is a type of diamond interchange in which the two directions of traffic cross to the opposite side on both sides of a bridge at the freeway. It is unusual in that it requires traffic on the freeway overpass (or underpass) to briefly drive on the opposite side of the road from what is customary.

INDIA-SCIENCE-GEOLOGY-ACCIDENT

And did you hear  that for the first time in recorded history, a meteorite is reported to have killed a person? The incident happened February 6 when an object, thought to be a meteorite, hit a college campus in Tamil Nadu, a state in southern India. The news reported that the impact killed a man and injured three others.

Tornado

I don’t know much about climate change but tornadoes in Alabama and Mississippi at the same time as blizzards in the Mid West and Northeast!?

Is there any common thread to this, you ask. Is there a moral to these stories? Lessons for life? No! I just wanted to share some of the things that appeared to be out of the ordinary. Not all of the sights and sounds mentioned are “weird.” Some are just things I never thought I would see or hear. Some are simply curiosities. Others might be food for thought and conversation.

Jamie Jenkins

What strange sights and sounds have you seen or heard?