The study of the unfolding and exploitation of language is never to be shrugged off. More than any other catalyst language is what connects or dissects us. And it is as powerful a channel within as without us.
Philology (from Ancient Greek φιλολογία philología ‘love of word’) is the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the intersection of textual criticism, literary criticism, history, and linguistics with strong ties to etymology.
Historically scribes who were paid to copy documents may have been literate, but many were simply copyists, mimicking the shapes of letters without necessarily understanding what they meant.
Like music, language resonates with different cadences, octaves, sharps, flats and genres. Certainly the sound of the instrument depends too upon its initial composition. As for the singularity of the human input, the question of Artificial Intelligence is not without its interest. I heard it said as lately as yesterday that AI can now compose poetry in addition to the passable dignity of being able to write a university thesis. I do not view this progression diminutive of the human advantage. I have for example always found the sound of a well-tuned Steinway superlative to the production from a lesser quality instrument; that is, the human contribution is directly related to the underlying mechanical performance. It is a power-driven credential not unlike that aligning within an accomplished athelete. Ernest Hemingway was reputed to have said that he practiced his literary art by imposing upon himself the rigour of writing for an hour every day while standing at his podium.
Repetition is not the answer; but indisputably (that is, from what I have observed) practice, errors and incremental enhancements produce a better result. It isn’t necessary to read music to play the piano. While I have a passing stake in the history of documents and their amusing usages of words for deliberate obfuscation, my greater amusement is etymology. This is partly because I have on occasion learned to predict the etymology of a word by sound or other innuendo peculiar to the word. This dubious insight enables me at times unwittingly to use a particular word for what, upon analysis, is its strict etymological usage but which has been altered to a modern interpretation. All this is to say that having a degree from the Toronto Conservatory of Music doesn’t ensure the ability to play the piano. Instead what is required is a combination of native exposition and learned embellishment.
There are those who, in the interest of confining themselves to effortless enterprise, dispel the opportunity to enlighten themselves with words, words, words. It is in my opinion a regrettable resolve, one which disparages more than improves, one which starves more than nourishes. The submission to mundanity on any level is perhaps to misprize the value of broadening one’s scope. I say “perhaps” because as a confessed regulator I am not about to poison the worth of habit and familiarity, the rubrics for the cultivated illumination of many an inscrutable construct. But by any measure the expansion of knowledge through exploration is a guaranteed strike. Perhaps the most convenient counsel for such elaboration is to read, read, read.
No doubt we each have our preferred sources of literary diversion. Those preferences naturally expose as much about ourselves as they do about the content of the text, not unlike the noticeable differences between Jazz and Baroque music. We are not the first to derive elevation and evaporation through the written word. The predominance of digestibility frequently arises from the subject matter of the text or its entertainment characteristics; in some cases, both. But this does not remove the attraction of the words themselves and their manipulation. To my eternal discredit I admit my adoration of Thomas Babington Macaulay’s “The History of England, from the Accession of James II” is paramountly his manner of discourse; viz., not so much what he says but more – far more – how he says it. As a result I haven’t but the most casual acquaintance with the history he purports to relate, so obstructed am I in that pursuit by the delectable nature of his dialogue. He is so manifestly corrupted by the talent of his own artistic expression that he paints the picture of a drama which has as much to do with the food as presentation does at any table.
Which brings me of necessity to a brief account of our luncheon today at the Brigadoon Restaurant in Oxford Mills.
Today’s exploit was another of our recent visits to local sites which offer an exceedingly pleasant diversion within easy reach of home territory. Having spent years traveling long distances to entertain or to otherwise fulfill ourselves, it is with unqualified pleasure that we report having quelled the nomadic necessity for the uncompromisingly advantageous outings nearby.