Something About Linguistics

There are words we learn;stairs, hill, fence, roof, chimney, driveway, window;but they still somehow aren't what we mean. There are others elephant, middle, room that get us closer, but still only to an outline, an idealike we are always more aware of the shape of the space around the thing than of the thing itself, however impossible that might seem.

     Negative space. Positive space. "Do you want to go to a movie?" means just what it says, while at the same time meaning something ridiculously more complex.

     Baroque. Byzantine. Almost no one knows what those words really mean, yet we use them anyway. What we mean is "complicated." Things are complicated. My best-ever French phraseover oysters and Champagne at La Coupole, no less was so simple, and yet, of course, not. A friend asked how things were going, and I paused, words building up like a typewriter hit in frustration, then said, C'est trop compliqueacute Perfect accent, perfect sigh. Even the natives nodded sympathetically; their forks hung in midair.

Magdalen Powers has published widely in magazines (Paragraph, Pangolin Papers, Sexy Stranger) and on web sites (The Morning News, 5_Trope, Uber, The Fray). She “lives” in Portland, Oregon, though she is often found on airplanes going to far away places to work on “projects” that often involve words and books.


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