Monday, July 27, 2009

The lazy way out

I've spent the day ripping stitches from the quilt I'm close to finishing.  A more tedious job is hard to imagine, especially in the heat.  I'm kind of leaning sideways over the quilt, so that I won't expire from having this blanket on my lap.  As I pull out the threads, I'm thinking of words.  Words which, with the addition of a prefix, mean exactly the opposite--comfortable and uncomfortable, for instance. Do and undo.  But then there's the word ravel.  With its 'opposite', unravel, which have exactly the same meaning.  Why is this?   What is the etymology of ravel that caused this mutation? Really, what's the point of putting the 'un' in front of ravel, if ravel will do the job exactly the same? I do admit, though, that I tend not to use the word ravel at all, only unravel, since what the definition--undo, take apart, separate threads--leans toward the 'un,' if that makes sense.

I'm also thinking (I mean, I have to use my mind for something while I work--otherwise I'm sure the heat will melt it entirely) of all the words and phrases I instinctively correct when I hear them misused.  I and me, for example.  Whenever I hear someone say, 'Me and Charlie are going swimming,' I correct it intermally--unless it's one of my children speaking. Then I correct it aloud, not caring if I embarrass them. But people also use I wrong. 'They invited Charlie and I to go swimming,' sounds more proper but is every bit as wrong as using 'me' in the first sentence.  It can really make me crazy at times, all this editing of conversation I do in my head.
There's the improper phrasology of this sentence: 'It needs washed.'  Either end 'wash' with a gerund (which is the grammatical word for 'ing' endings) or insert 'to be' after needs.

The list of such phrasing, such word choices, such grammatical errors, is endless.  Appallingly endless.  I'm sure, however, some of my faithful readers have noticed a time or two that I break plenty of rules when I write.  But here's the thing: I know it.  I know that I use hyphens to create words that aren't actually words, that I write with fragments and partial sentences.  But one of my fundamental beliefs in writing (or speaking) is that one must know the rules in order to break the rules.  And when such breakage occurs it's done purposely, to create a point, to set a phrase or word or idea apart.  Ripping out stitches in language, so that what is re-sewn is better, more appealing, pleasing to God and people.

I could have left these sloppy stitches, been satisfied with a haphazard job that's almost right.  But that would be taking the lazy way out. But that's not good enough.  In sewing or in language.  Sure, it'd save me time, thread and more heat on this already blisteringly hot summer day.  But "whatever you do, whether in word (speech/writing) or in deed (quilting, or whatever), do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."

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