“The woods would be quiet if no bird sang but the one that sang best.”

The sun is shining in a sky of blue. It is a bit chilly, only 48˚. The forecast is for rain but not until after five. Yesterday I cleaned the papers and cans in the yard, Nala’s mess. While I was cleaning, she tried to eat the convict pick up stick. I use stop instead of no, but it doesn’t matter. Nala ignores me either way, but she comes in when I call. I’m good with that.

When I was a kid, my dog Duke, another boxer, ignored everybody. That used to drive my father insane. He was known to chase Duke in the car when the dog ignored him and still ran off to follow kids to school. My mother tried a different tactic to get him into the house. She bribed him with bologna, but he could snatch a slice from her hand and leave her only with the corner of the meat she was holding. If Duke was out, he’d follow us to our school. The nuns had me walk him home. I didn’t mind the walk, and I loved missing school with permission. I took my time.

I had all the regular subjects in elementary school and only one nun every year who taught them all. We didn’t have art or music every day which was fine with me. I can’t sing and I draw stick figures. We were taught a few weird subjects. I can translate Roman numerals, and I can read and transcribe Gregorian chant music. Mighty skills, useless skills!

I am watching Unknown World from 1951. It has a woman scientist who is described as an ardent feminist. She is in charge of the diet and the animals. The other day I watched a video about a moose. The narrator described it as a quiet Gentile. I wondered. Are all moose Gentiles? I have no idea what the program was, but I loved the description of the main character as a plucky underdog. At one of my high school’s graduations, a speaker, the head of the school committee, made a speech. He wanted to share with the graduates an antidote.

The English language and mathematics are strangely similar. There is one answer to a math problem and only one correct grammatical structure. I find the sounds of incorrect grammar grating. I reject the argument that only being understood matters. That is like telling a musician that singing on-key isn’t important. Just belt out that song. Only the singing matters, not the tone or the key or the notes. My third grade teacher, Sister Eileen Marie, told me just to mouth the words to the May procession songs. I still remember exactly where I was standing when she had me sing to her. She then embarrassed me in front of the whole class when she told me to mouth the words. I was eight. That is when I stopped singing when anyone could hear me.

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9 Comments on ““The woods would be quiet if no bird sang but the one that sang best.””

  1. Christer. Says:

    In Swedish we have amongst the longest words in the world since we almost all ways put together different words to one. Like You would write summer school, we write summerschool.

    People now days are a bit too influenced by English so they tend to write words in Your way which can create the most odd situations, I guess You remember the add I wrote about where they sold black labrador puppies 🙂 🙂
    So there’s a rule that can help people remember how they should write a word:

    If it sounds like one word write it as one word. If You are unsure if it is one or two words write it as one because it most likely is. If You are sure it’s two words write it as one because it most likely is 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Have a great day!


    • Christer. Says:

      and of course it should say always, nothing else 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Bob Says:

      All the Scandinavian languages came from some form of old German. And everyone knows how they combine many adjectives together to make one word.

      Kraftfahrzeug-Haftpflichtversicherung (36)
      Officially recognised by the Duden – Germany’s pre-eminent dictionary – as the longest word in German, Kraftfahrzeug-Haftpflichtversicherung is a 36-letter, tongue-tying way of describing a rather, mundane everyday concept: motor vehicle liability insurance.

      • Christer. Says:

        Hi Bob!
        We actually have a word that is 131 letters long 🙂 🙂 🙂 It is only used by the army though 🙂

    • katry Says:

      I Christer,
      That is interesting about your combining words. I find languages really interesting. In Ghana they tend to translate directly from their tribal languages. Instead of I’ll be back, they say I will return. My favorite is I went to your house and met your absence meaning I wasn’t home.

      I think language are influenced by other languages. We have many words that came from French starting in1066, the Battle of Hastings after which the language of the English court was French.

      I like that rule, just write everything as one word!

      Have a great week.

      • Christer. Says:

        We have lots of borrowed words from German, French and English and quite a lot from jiddish (an official minority language here) and Romani (also an official minority language here).

      • katry Says:

        Wow, Christer,
        I am amazed at the number of languages in Sweden. Here, sadly, we only speak English.

  2. Bob Says:

    Today was another beautiful clear sky with a high temperature of 85°. They are predicting rain for tomorrow evening so I put off getting my car washed once again. I only drive my car the three miles to and from the office. I filled the gas tank today for the first time in over a month. On February 20th I spent $37.59 for 11.7 Gallons. Today I paid $46.25 for 12.8 Gallons. Yes, War is Hell. 🙂

    I respectfully disagree with your analogy of grammar to music. If it’s readable it’s okay by most folks. Most modern rock music is like bad grammar to your ear, just plain painful. 🙂 I worked years ago with a former English teacher who was in our courseware department. She drove me nuts because she wanted our manuals written in the active voice. Pilots as a general rule couldn’t care in what voice the manual was written as long as it was readable.

    Thankfully, she disappeared when we sent our courseware department to a company that we purchased in Bangalore India. That was a horrible mistake. The theory was that a SME, (Subject Matter Expert), would send courseware corrections at five in the evening in Dallas, and overnight here the corrections would be made in India and returned in the morning. Unfortunately, no matter how much we tried training these folks, they always sent back our corrections with more unwitting mistakes that they decided to correct. Usually, the Indians didn’t understand technical terms and corrected them into some kind of gibberish. For example, jet engines are equipped with, “Thrust reverser buckets”. The Indians wrote, “Thrust reverser pails”. When we asked why he changed the word to buckets, the developer replied that he liked the word pails better. 🙂 And, they would argue with us.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Bob,
      It is raining right now. The forecasters were correct. It should last until midnight or so. It is still warming at 47˚.

      I disagree with you. Grammar has a right and a wrong. I’m talking language, not frilly parts like active voice or the subjunctive which in the scheme of grammar isn’t all that important for communicating. To my ears saying grammar constructs such as I don’t know nothing is grating as is him and I like it. My favorite is when people think they are right as in give it to him and I. Language is fluid but it does have rules. On TV, grammar is assaulted even on scripted programs where the writers and the actors are obviously unfamiliar with the appropriate language.

      India may be an English speaking country, but Indian English is different from British or American or even Ghanaian English. They don’t speak English to one another for the most part. It isn’t their traditional language. Also, I suspect technical language might not be in their wheelhouses.

      Most written language is correct as editors have their way unless it is purposeful bad grammar to give a character some dimension or a region its due.

      I was talking about singing on key.

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