Msnowe's Blog

Problems with English.

Posted in random thoughts. by m.snowe on December 6, 2008

M.Snowe used to think bocce ball was “babci” ball, named after people like her grandmother, a Polish “Babci” who was faintly perfumed with pickled herring and shuffled around lightly in quilt-patterned slippers until two in the afternoon. It was always satisfyingly ironic to think that the goal of bocce was to get your colored balls close as possible to the main ball, whereas Babci made no effort to get close to her grandchildren, as if the idea of intimacy was in any way a game-winning aspiration.

Sometimes spelling things and forming concepts of words is difficult when you’re young. If you pronounce something wrong the first time you come across it and continue to do so for a while, then for the rest of your life, while you know the “correct” spelling and pronunciation, you may be condemned to remember your misinterpretation every time you see or hear the word. For the longest time during childhood, M.Snowe thought “approximate” meant exact—for no other reason than the word sounded official, and had the thrust of judicial finality, like a word you might find in a legal dictionary. But we are all in a state of nolo contendere against Webster’s 5th. But the effect has been that now, whenever someone “approximates,” M.Snowe gets the sneaking suspicion they know more concrete facts than they’re letting on.