Friday, July 22, 2016

Feel free to breathe

[Latest post in my Google+ Collection, Language, Logic, Life.]

Feel free to walk, however, and breathe. (No wonder the sign attracts graffiti.)

Also, the word 'refrain' has a slightly quaint or archaic air. I heard it – usually accompanied by 'please', as here, or by a sarcastic 'kindly' – a lot in my childhood. Even then it sounded a bit old-fashioned.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Beauty, beauty, everywhere...

[My latest piece in the Google+ Collection, Language, Logic, Life.]

"We believe everyone is beautiful." [Beauty salon sign]... Beauty in everyone, maybe, but everyone beautiful?

I could go on about this. If sincere it would suggest a grievous lack of professional judgment; if insincere, an attempt at cynical manipulation. A charitable reading might be that it is an assurance that the customer will be treated with respect no matter how unbeautiful she is.

But the main problem is clearly that such an attitude (or pretended attitude) drains the word of meaning. Not only do good-looking people need ordinary-looking and indeed ugly people around to set off their beauty, they need such people to exist in order for their beauty to have significance or value; or indeed for the word 'beautiful' to have any meaning at all.