Be prepared to:
Photo: author: Asbestos; Src: WikiCommons; Licence: CC 2.0
That Place in the Thigh
(for my grandfather, Franklin)
you’ll turn the fans on, that
in the morning, the skies
will be flat,
the leaves listless, tattered,
wandering up the hills;
it isn’t autumn yet,
when you boil apples down in
sugar and vinegar—no, and
no new work yet, the pain fresh
you can’t tell the buddies, not really,
about this place, damp & ratty &
you don’t want to know what
your family might say, the gospel
choir downstairs notwithstanding…
and, after all, what is there to say; things happen.
in the evening, when the
sun turns the wires to silver ladders
and burns the brick wall blowzy
about your boy, sharp as his mother,
(no belly of clouds)
but for the
ineffable rage, the phone call with
the minister at your side, the frantic silence,
the wife’s dignity: “He’s out…does he
have your number?”
there is a final thought, the world
sliding down towards absence—you must
climb the words, one by one, knowing no
one is listening, that astray you have
known things people will remember: that
the floor of heaven is stone, that the man
who lives there wears your face,
that what we say is just what we
say, not what the
that you will not see until you see
your face scattered
the sound of his feet on the
stairs, the short, polite knock—
the words will come to you
trains clattering away down the block,
your hair cropped and
the wine cooled all night—
and his words, too, unvictorious,
wrestled–uncontrite, limping &
shaped, as if in bone-struggle (that
place in the thigh)
steaming on battered brick,
the rain, the
long sheets of rain.
–The Rag Tree
Photo: Oak Leaves; E. Herbst; WikiCommons
There are worse ways to warm the spirit come January:
Hot Springs in Snow
The air steams, the trees
bend and shed a mist of ice:
Your face blossoms joy.
–The Rag Tree
I suspect that grammar is often thought of as one of “the dismal arts” (which really isn’t a contradiction in terms), that is, as in the same category as, say, plumbing. And there is no denying that grammar lies somewhere deep in the guts of language–just listen to the names of its components:
1) Morphology; (links to RT’s page on subject)
No wonder there’s a glamor issue here. But a recent remark by Wordgathering has inspired me to attempt to make the enterprise a little sexier, a likelier candidate for a tweet or two.
Morphology: deals with the units of meaning in language: words, parts of speech, intonation/stress, and how they work to build up meaning.
Syntax: deals with the way sentences are put together in a language. If a language is highly inflected, its syntax (or word-order) is fairly unimportant to meaning; if a language is not inflected (English, for example), word-order becomes vital to meaning.
Phonology: deals with the music of a language, that is, the ways it uses syllables, rythym, gestures, and (oh mi gosh!) rhyme to articulate and enhance meaning. One might think of it as the scientific study of poetry.
Phonetics: deals with the actual, physical production of language–how the mouth, sinuses, and throat act during speech. It is concerned with such things as acoustic properties, auditory perception, and neurophysiological issues.
Semantics: deals with meaning as it is conveyed through words, phrases, signs, and symbols. It attempts to answer the question, how does language encode and convey meaning?
Pragmatics: deals with the way context contributes to meaning. It focuses on such things as talk in everyday situations, implication, and ambiguity.
…and goodwill to all men!
“They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore.”
Image 1: Marianne Stokes, An Angel; Image 2: Dolledre. Src: Wikicommons
Here’s a gift from Santa to widen an elf’s eyes…
(photo src: Hubble Telescope; NASA & ST-sci)
As far as I know, there is only one alphabet that can represent in writing any sound spoken in any language: the International Phonetic Alphabet.
The origins of the IPA go all the way back to 1886, when a group of French linguists formed the International Phonetic Association. Working originally with an alphabet designed to represent any sound spoken in a European language, the Association redesigned its alphabet in 1888 so that it could be used to write any language.
Since its inception, the IPA has undergone several revisions, the most recent of which took place in 2005. But the core of the alphabet has remained unchanged for some time.
Hold onto your hats, folks. This alphabet does not look like anything you’ve ever seen before. Rather than providing a lengthy explanation, I’m just going to upload a chart containing the alphabet, so that people can get used to the look of it:
Ok, folks, take your time getting used to this: the IPA is the scientific approach to creating an alphabet, and was created instead of evolving over thousands of years, like the English Alphabet. There is certainly no need to master all of it; it does, however, indicate the range of sounds that people make. And I might as well say now that this is not the complete alphabet; I’ll post the other charts in one of my next few posts. RT
Chart source: Omniglot.com