Smashing Thoughts

on Sunday, July 13, 2008

It is clear from her blog, DutchCorner , that Marja is a brave and passionate woman, especially in her concern for children welfare in general and for those with learning difficulties specifically. She is also a very good promoter of the blogging community, so do go visit and learn about what is happening in her corner. Just to confuse matters, her corner of the world is actually New Zealand. Intrigued? Confused? Drop in on her blog and all will be clear.

Recently, Marja celebrated her 10,000th visitor and she was also given the "Brilliant Weblog Premio 2008" Award. All the denizens of this Realm send their congratulations to Marja on her twin achievements.

On that special occasion, in typically generous fashion, she celebrated by giving out some awards of her own, which is how the Lone Grey Squirrel came to get his grubby paws on the "Smashing Blog" Award. Many thanks, Marja.


This squirrel was mesmerised by the pretty award for most of the day. You might be familiar with this look.......it is the same when a squirrel's eyes are caught in a car's headlights. When I was finally able to stop staring at the bright light, I did what comes naturally to inquisitive squirrels; I asked, "What does 'Smashing' mean?"

According to the Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary, smashing can either mean 1. crushing (as in, smashing defeat) or 2. extraordinarily impressive (as in, smashing performance). Squirrels are more familiar with the first meaning as in the case of "smashing nuts" to get to the goodies inside but I am hoping that the award refers to the second meaning. Here it is again, this schizophrenic nature of the English language where either the same word can mean completely different things or different and opposite words can mean the same thing.

So we find that when something is good, it is "cool" but it could also be "hot". It is cool to be driving a hot car but the hot chick can still give you the cold shoulder which just isn't cool, dude.

I heard this recently and I thought it also illustrates this point well; "How can you tell that you have grown old? You tell you best friend that you are having an affair and he asks who is the caterer."

Then there is the use of the same or similar word twice to reverse the meaning. Actually this is apparently true of many languages, where a double negative gives a positive. For example, "He would not disagree." means "He agreed". A professor of English is said to have given a class on this very topic recently and he said that many languages have this "double negative equals positive rule" but though some languages also have the reverse which is that "double positive equals negative", that is not the case in the English language. There was silence initially as his students scribbled down their notes but then a voice from the back of the lecture hall said, "Yeah, right!"

Ah, English.......she is always evolving. Isn't it simply smashing? (and I mean both meanings of the word).

21 comments:

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Congratulations on the award.

Squirrel is getting cool.

In my own blog today, I sort of quoted you, to do with your previous blog on parlor statisticians and their tendency to invent statistics if they have to, just to prove a point.

But watch out when you read my blog.
It's sort of prurient and maybe even risque.

...But what else is new?

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Congratulations on the award.

Squirrel is getting cool.

In my own blog today, I sort of quoted you, to do with your previous blog on parlor statisticians and their tendency to invent statistics if they have to, just to prove a point.

But watch out when you read my blog.
It's sort of prurient and maybe even risque.

...But what else is new?

Pam said...

Congratulations on your smashing award LGS. Guess you are aware of 'sick''(wonderful)"fully sick"(absolutely wonderful,amazing) So, rephrasing this comment to you in young-people speak,(not a good look on a fifty-something, so excuse my taking liberties here,) "Wow LGS. Fully sick. That rocks."

patterns of ink said...

As a former English teacher (for 18 years), this was fun to read and so true. The amazing thing is that most of the time we know exactly what the person means thanks to tone, inflection, facial expression, etc. As in "yeah, right" and "whatever." 9 times out of ten (you can add this to friday's post =) those two expressions will come out negatively.

VioletSky said...

Congratulations on your smashing award.
So that's what you see when you are looking at my car. Brilliant.

heiresschild said...

CONGRATULATIONS LGS! simply smashing! i watch this tv program called "So You Think You Can Dance", and when the dancers are good, they're told they're nasty and stank, which means they're very, very good. gee, talk about different meanings!

geewits said...

I loved this post. I, too, love language and thinking about its usage. My first research paper (age 16) was on Holden Caulfield's use of language in "The Catcher in the Rye." That "Yeah, right" was really great and made me smile (and it's still there!). On that note, even a triple positive is even a negative as in, "Yeah, okay, right."

Claire said...

Word!

Janice Thomson said...

Love this post and agree wholeheartedly that English is at times a confusing language. Often when reading poetry I have to look up a word to distinguish which particular meaning was meant to be used.
Congratulations on the award!

blackcrag said...

This is why I love writing and language so much. I just love playing around with words.

Congratulations on the award, LGS. Something else to think about: flammable and inflammable both mean something can catch fire. Irregardless and regardless basically mean 'disregard this' (ok, it really means 'in spite of this'). And the 'ough' conglomeration of letters has seven seperate sounds.

The non-English speaking mind boggles. The English-speaking mind simply accepts the language doesn't make sense and carries on talking.

Dr.John said...

A very nice English lesson. At times our language just bugs me.
By the way that hot car had better not be hot or the police will come and get you.

jmb said...

Congratulations on the award LGS. I enjoyed this post. English makes no sense sometimes to speakers of other languages. It just grew like topsy so we seem to be thin on rules and everyone seems to break them anyway.

Molly said...

English is the bomb ,dude!Congratulations on getting your paws on those awards!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

ivan,
Thanks. I'll come by your blog to see your treatment of parlor statisticians.

pam,
I did not know about "fully sick". How wonderfully weird.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

tom,
You are right...it's in the tonal variation but I wonder how "yeah, right" got started.

violetsky,
So it was you that was shining those bright lights in my eyes! :)

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

sylvia,
Good to see you back. Smashing!

geewits,
Wow, the triple positive! Suddenly I feel like we are talking about ice skating...."He is about to perform a double toe loop and a triple positive!" ;)

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

claire,
Thank you. By the way, you probably win the prize for shortest comment! :)

janice,
English can be a lady or a tramp. Maybe that is the secret to its success.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

blackcrag,
English, she is fun. If someone does something inadvertently, can someone also do something advertently? Keep writing, friend. Peace.

Dr. John,
Thanks for not blowing the whistle on my hot car.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

jmb,
The only rule I remember is "i" before "e" except after "c". :)

molly,
I thank you and my paws thank you.

the walking man said...

Groovy props squirrelmiester!

meggie said...

Congratulations on a well earned reward!!

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