“Be careful with words, they’re dangerous. Be wary of them. They beget either demons or angels. It’s up to you to give life to one or the other. Be careful, I tell you nothing is as dangerous as giving free rein to words.” :Selishter Rebbe
In a country where people have ‘freedom of speech’, it is hard to imagine that it is ever otherwise. Sometimes we get carried away and forget the magnitude of the responsibility of language. Words are not harmless and words cannot be ‘taken back’. When they are said, written, or texted, they have a life of their own. When we put words into the world, we are responsible for them. Knowing this, believing it and being aware that it is an awesome responsibility, can make one quite timid about writing and speaking.
Then I remember that there is a corresponding responsibility on the part of the listener or reader. I once heard a man observe, “If no offense is intended, none ought be taken.” He later followed that with the observation that “It is difficult to offend someone who does not want to be offended; but, it is impossible to avoid offending someone who wants to be offended.” I would give him credit for those remarks if I knew who he was. His words have emboldened me and made me more aware. What he said about ‘offense’ applies to other responses and reactions to language. Those of us on the receiving end also have responsibility for our responses and reactions.
I am going to be speaking about the origins of our “English” language from a standpoint that is not the popular or accepted position, academically or otherwise. My viewpoint fills in the story of our language in spots where that story is incomplete. What I have to say is quite plausible and is consistent with known history. It may even seem too simple to be true. We know for a fact that the English language was based in a West Saxon dialect of the Anglo-Saxon language, which I
will abbreviate A.S. The language was translated from a ‘Runic’ alphabet, which really isn’t an alphabet as it doesn’t have an ‘abecediary’ symbol arrangement. Runes are more of an ideographic symbol system. That is Greco-Latin (Gr.L.) for idea-writing, which was what our present alphabet, the Italic alphabet, was in ancient Babylon-Assyria.
Control of language is an ancient form of dictatorship:
English was translated into an Irish version of this Italic alphabet. We know from both words and pictures on ancient manuscripts that Irish scribes were doing the writing. The Celtoi, Irish among them, had an ancient history of literacy in their ‘religious’ structure of Druidism. With the coming of Christianity, and at the order of King Connor Mac Nessa, language use was opened up to the people. Before that, the Bards were the repositories of language skills. Druidism was divided into Druids, Bards and Vates. Language skills include not only reading and writing of language but reasoning, argumentation, philosophy, and law. The Bards were more powerful than kings because they had complete control of the formal language. Control of language is an ancient form of dictatorship.
By the coming of the Tenth Century, Irish scribes were already writing languages across the known world.2 King Ælfred ordered that his peoples’ language be translated and Bishop Ælfric translated the peoples’ prayerbook into the new language, with the able assistance of ‘scribes’. Not everyone was taught to read and write; but, no one was forbidden to learn. There is more about this later on and I will repeat myself, particularly when the facts are the same but the context is different. At present, the freedom and responsibilities, as well as the great vulnerability, that come with language use, are the subject that I am addressing. Formal language has not always been allowed to the people. To be allowed is to be given or yielded. For the peoples’ language to become the formal language is a great part of what makes the English language so particularly remarkable. I am confident that King Ælfred’s decision was an early and significant factor in our peoples’ insistence on self governance.
English, the Vulgate, the peoples’ language:
Instead of making Latin or Greek the language of the ruling classes, Ælfred the Great made the peoples’ language into the language of all the people. Being written in an Irish version of the Italic alphabet, that symbol system became available to the people. This made their own language, and Latin, within their grasp. Granted, many priestly scholars wrote in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic. Yet, the language of the people, save for the Norman period when French was spoken, was the language of not only the Royal Court, but also of the law courts and of the common man. People all over the land spoke different dialects; but, the written common language could be learned by any person who wanted enough to do so. This practice lasted even through the Norman Invasion.
Since all of the people were familiar with runes and the Irish Ogham had a version that was compatible with the runic system, all of the people had access to the written language of the land. It is a good thing they did since the runes came under attack by Christian rulers because of the pagan connections and the runes’ continued use in fortune telling and other folk magic. Had runes not been needed in the almanac for farming, fishing, and other weather dependent pursuits, they might have disappeared altogether. As it was, the runes did not disappear; but, the code which was used to encode the runes into “English” has not yet been found.
Being without a code book, people learned by reading text and by listening to language being used. When the Seventeenth Century (1600s) arrived, much great literature had been written in English, including Chaucer and Shakespeare, and many books had been translated into English. However, then as today, we did not know what the words meant. We also did not have a standardized spelling. In 1604, Robert Cawdry, a grammar school teacher, published a small book of about 2,500 words, “A Table Alphabeticall”3 An entry from this volume is the first mention of the word ‘abecedarie’ that I’ve found.
A friendly word to scholars, about scholarship:
On that same page, Dr. Burchfield (the author) says, “It is self-evident therefore that English literature can proceed at the highest level of performance without the existence of elaborate lexicons and grammars.” My Dear Dr. Burchfield, I would not argue that point; however, I have lived in many places where freedom supposedly abounds, and know that you can be stripped of your property, livelihood, freedom and even your life, if you do not understand the language of the powers that be. Not understanding what a petty bureaucrat is trying to express is not comparable to understanding great literature and that is part of the problem with English language education today. There is a fixation on the sounds of language and ignorance of the sense of the words. The sense of A.S. words is overlooked and the Gr. L. elements are rarely taught. While there are many of us who enjoy great literature and also thrill to great music, there is more of social substance to both than the high sounds. We must also consider the sense of both language and music and what they elicit from us as human beings living in close proximity to one another. The distances among the various world-peoples is fast becoming almost nonexistant, so we all need to communicate, not just “great writers”.
Dr. Burchfield fills in some interesting information about how English dictionaries have been written
through the years by writers referencing words from great literature. I came across these words: “…he could not have delved into the vocabulary of English before the sixteenth century because it mostly lay in unedited and uncollected works in monastic libraries and great private houses.”4 Thank you, Doctor B. Perhaps the missing link between runic Anglo-Saxon and that first written in the Irish Italic is in some dusty stack in a private house. It can’t be too far away since there is so much runic evidence in contemporary spelling. I expect that someone will eventually find the code source book.
“…Drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring:..”5
The above quote is usually left out when someone intones “A little learning is a dangerous thing;” The emphasis is usually placed on ‘learning’ and ‘thing’ rather than on ‘little’, where it belongs. What we can learn is constrained by how much use of language we have. This does not mean how many words we have memorized, can define, and can spell. To be able to use words, we have to understand the sense of them. Our words are found in, and are based in, the observations and experiences of us and our ancestors. Historically, we have learned these senses from myths, legends, fairy tales, poems, songs and sagas. It is time for a deep draught of learning because English, the peoples’ language is in trouble. It may not seem that way since English is all over the Internet and there are even talking books. Instead of improving our way of teaching people the use of language, we are crippling ourselves by having machines do it for us. The word ‘draught’ is usually spelled ‘draft’, from [A.S. dragan, to draw, drag, or pull] That is, we need to take some deep drags of learning. We need to read, write and speak our own speech, not just say what others say and write the way that others do. That ‘-ay’ sense element has the sense of a ‘ path’ made by others. We need to choose our own path and that requires choices. We can only have choices if we have options in our language use. We need to take back our language and learn how to work with it.
We also are overlooking the fact that it is, now, just that much easier to edit, censor and even shut down the free use of our language. It becomes too easy to disallow language use when many people can’t read, write and speak without electric tools. I am not down on computers and technology. I want to use tools; but, I do not want them using me. A case in point is television. We no longer use it as a tool, we are used by it. We buy their marketing and are rewarded with a few minutes of entertainment. This is where many people learn what passes for a language. The correct emotional response is indicated by background mood music and laugh-tracks. Music is supposed to be in the language itself, as an essential part of sense of words. The music is as important as the grammatical word order. These parts of language have not always been separated one from the other. To see what I mean, check out some classic films from the 1930’s and ’40s. Enough about that for now because I am mentioning it to make a point that language is part of the commons, and belongs to us all in common. This would not be the first time that ‘free speech’ has been disallowed.
We are already in trouble with our language because too many people are unable to competently read, write, speak and understand the language. We are in a worse fix than we were in the 1600s because many people do not learn the Gr. L. roots of English and we no longer know the A.S. sense elements. The Anglo-Saxon words are the substance of our language and yet we are taught the Gr, L. words as the educated language. We have made angels and dæmons with our native Anglo Saxon language; but, we don’t know which are which because we don’t really understand what our words mean. We do not have a mental picture of the ideas and there is no real information in language without ideation. When we take the music and the ideation out of language, we are left with noise.
Stumbling over our noisy dæmons:
Words can be angels or dæmons and sometimes one can be turned into the other in the act of trying to understand them. There is a basic sense built into every word. Sometimes we impose our own fears and needs on the words and see that sense through the distortion of our own turmoil. That sense, that is built into the word, is based in a story about something that people once observed and commented about in a drawing, a carving or some other writing craft. If we are using the word, the sense image is still in there somewhere. It will just be a matter of trying to decode it and find out where it fits into the story. Much more about our stories, later. For now I will illustrate with a few examples.
The word ‘crap’, for instance, is often understood to be another word for feces. ‘Crap!’ is now used as a kind of swearing word, as though the word and anything that it refers to, is worthless. In the past, chaff has been considered a ‘waste’ product, but not that kind of waste. What ‘crap’ actually means is ‘chaff ‘ which is what is left after the wheat has been winnowed away. Craps also is another word for throwing dice, gambling. That is another kind of waste. ‘Crap’ is related to the word ‘crop’ and means ‘head’ as in the head of a stalk of wheat. A ‘crop’ can be an entire field of wheat. To ‘crop’ something is to take the top off of it. The word grows poetically until it can be a new ‘crop’ of students, which is a very back-handed compliment to a learned person.
‘Queer’ has the sense of ‘oblique’, ‘transverse’ and ‘across’ in several languages and came to mean ‘odd’ or ‘peculiar’ in English. We turn it into a dæmon and destroy its useful function in language when we make the word a denigrating term. It is fun to play with words that have double meanings. The distinction here is that the word is being used to ‘call names’. That is roughly the equivalent of the practice of putting a ‘curse’ on someone. We have forgotten the sense of a curse. All the definitions that I have found amount to calling down evil upon someone, or exposing something within them and labeling it as ‘evil’. This coincides with the runic code as KEN (C) is ‘intuitive knowing’ and ‘Ur’ can be either UR or UR RAD and be ‘group energy’ and ‘transformation’ or both. This amounts to an intense focusing of ill will, which is ‘working magic’ to do harm. That is labeling someone(s) or something as ‘evil’, the substantive of which is ‘devil’.
Ancient evil is still evil and a wrong, no matter how often repeated, is still wrong.6
There are at least two mythic stories about the effects of ‘curse’ in our history. A series of plays have been written about both ‘The Curse of the House of Atreus’ and ‘The Curse of the House of Cadmus’; three if you count the modern “Dune Trilogy”. The ‘houses’, or some would say ‘race’ or ‘tribe’, of both Atreus and Cadmus were ‘cursed’ by a crime that each of them had committed. All the descendants were ‘cursed’ by the crime committed by their respective progenitor. It sounds bizarre until we reflect on modern instances in which people are considered ‘evil’ for stories about things that happened some centuries before. Many “modern” countries have entire caste systems built on ‘cursed’ and ‘blessed’ peoples. In both the stories of Atreus and of Cadmus, who were Greek, there was a closing play series in which there was redemption. In one series, Œdipus was the ‘hero’ who was redeemed for the crimes of killing his father and marrying his mother. He disavowed his ‘guilt’ by saying that he was not guilty of crimes because he did not know, and could not possibly have known, that they were his parents. The gods agreed and erased his guilt. At that time the ‘Furies’, a species of ‘angel’ that pursued and punished those with “blood guilt”, became the “Eumenides”, a benignant or blessed species of angel. This was when the “Seat of Mercy” was founded at Thebes. This is a mythic7 story of when the Greek society outgrew the unforgiving lust for vengeance. There is a similar story for both ‘Atreus’ and ‘Cadmus’ and I have encountered the same basic story in many myth structures.
I have twice heard the same story of the redemption of cursed peoples in the Twentieth Century. The stories are still too new to be accepted as myth; but, cursing and blessing seems to be one of man’s ancient patterns. It would be great to just skip the curse part. Once we have the idea (curse) and transformed that idea into a word, we have made it real (in our world). To undo this manmade reality, we have to create a balancing idea, like ‘forgiveness’ or ‘blessing’.
The above paragraph was entered afterward and as an afterthought. Remove or lose it?
Many peoples have a similar story in their history that relates how they had a great epiphany when they put aside the practices of human sacrifice, blood feuds, and other unlovely human quirks. Iphigenia, Agamemnon’s daughter, said it well: “God isn’t bloodthirsty, men are and they blame their lust upon their gods.”8 Mankind, the world over, battles with this lust and frequently wins the battle. We have had some admirable examples in my lifetime: somehow failure always appears so much more conspicuous. Think Ghandi, Mandela, King and remember the millions who walked with them.
Some miserable failures and how they can happen: The English Saga
King Ælfred’s house. The House of Wessex, ruled in relative peace for nearly a century and a half. The ‘house’ fell when ‘Ethelred the Unready’ broke the faith. There had always been continual defensive battles against impoverished attackers looking for money and land, and Ælfred had always used money and arms to defend the realm. He had even given land to some Danes who settled in the ‘Danelaw’ and became friends and countrymen. Ethelred II, his grandson, used money instead of arms. He met the invaders ‘needs’ but did not set firm limits with arms. In 994 ACE, he bought a respite and again in 1002 he bought another. This time, King Ethelred broke the truce. In so doing, he broke his word of honor.
The English had taken Danish mercenaries into their service and Ethelred suspected them of plotting against him. Ethelred was panic stricken and “planned the slaughter of all the Danes in the south of England, whether in his pay or living peacably upon the land”. “This atrocious design was executed on St. Brice’s Day.” “Among the victims was Gunnhild, the wife of Pallig, one of the chief Vikings, and sister of Sweyn, King of Denmark.” This was the beginning of the end. The final payment to the Vikings was in 1012. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, “All of these calamities fell upon us through evil counsel…”9 Some authors say that Ethelred failed to listen to his counselors and others say he was ‘given’ poor counsel. The name he is given in history is Ethelred, the Unready. The word ‘read’ means ‘counsel’ and ‘unready’ means uncounseled and it also means ‘unread’. His grandfather, Ælfred, took counsel from reading, in particular, Pope Gregory’s “Pastoral”. This is a book on how to rule or be a pastor (shepherd) of people. I think either Ethelred had a reading comprehension problem, or there was not enough discussion about the “Pastoral”. His name has the sense of ‘House of Counsel but his conduct brought a curse upon them. “…The family of Ethelred was excised from the royal line, and the last sons of the House of Wessex fled into exile. …’The kingly house,’ as Ranke put it, ‘whose right and preeminence was connected with the earliest settlements, which had completed the union of the realm and delivered it from the worst distress, was at a moment of moral deterioration and disaster excluded by the spiritual and temporal chiefs of Anglo-Saxon and Danish origin.’10
Ethelred’s conduct was a breach of the code of honor which was established by his grandfather and taught to two generations. The words “moral deterioration” are the clue that we are talking about a ‘curse’ on the house. The ‘name’ of the house has been ‘defamed’ because of a moral failing of one of the house’s principals and principles. Everyone knew what Æthelred had done, so ‘blame’ was undoubtedly his. The A.S. word is ‘blamen’ and means ‘to speak evil’. Runically, words beginning with bl- have the sense of fluidity or changeability of be-ing, as in blood and all bodily fluids and essences. Blame attaches, as do blessings and curses, to the very essence of a people, their substance, their bodily fluids, and their very breath or spirit. Shakespeare referred to that as their “spit and image”, corrupted to spitting image. When the “spiritual and temporal chiefs” exclude a ‘tribe’ or ‘house’, those people are known to be accursed. No matter how nice they are, or how well-loved, they are not considered forthright and trustworthy.
Words, Reading and We the people:
It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of words and reading, not just because of what we get from them but because of what they get from us. They invoke thoughts and ideas from us. When I read, I often get things from the book which are not actually in the book. I used to worry that there was a problem with my ability to read. After hearing other people worry about their experience with this same ‘problem’, I started listening more and paying attention to the experience. When we read, whether it is individual words from a dictionary or words in a book that has a storyline, the text stimulates thoughts that we start considering, pondering and sometimes developing. Often, a word brings a vivid mental image to mind. Reading is an interactive process. If you notice the word ‘thought’, it contains ‘ought’, a word that has the sense of ‘compelling’. Reading stimulates thought and ideation. This gives us the sense of what is written between the lines and, most importantly, the sense of what is contained within the words themselves. At the end of this section, we will be analyzing the sense of some of the words that I have italicized in this section. Many of them are common words which have lost their sense of commonality.
Interactive ‘reading’ and remembering the ‘source’:
If you watch children reading together or reading to the cat or a dog, the children will sometimes start
a conversation about something in the book. Entire new stories can develop. I have made a practice of having a steno pad handy or, even better for me, a stack of 3X5’s or 4X6 note cards to jot down ideas, new words and their context. Sometimes, I write just ‘book’ name, a page number and the date. I think children also should have paper and a pen or pencil handy so that they can write or draw what is on their mind. A computer or some other electronic device is not a substitute for this function because the subject here is symbol-making and the way that each individuals’ genius perceives and processes things. People will self-teach a great deal just by what they read and write. It doesn’t matter whether it is a novel, poem, cook book, song, game directions, chess moves or artistic sketches. I have a most particular affection for people who find questions, people who quest. I do not mean those who are always asking, who, what, why; but, rather those who get a querulous look and are obviously thinking. Shorty would say, “You can almost smell the wood burning.”
Dæmons11 in books. Should we censor our reading or that of others:
I was always allowed to read anything that could hold my attention. That rule applied to books with text, not always the picture books. That was the rule which I used for my son when he was small. There may be bad influences in books; but, I believe that they can be countered by open discussion. I think that nothing should be off-limits when it comes to discussing ideas. When people do learn to read, they do not automatically learn to think fluently. It is usually the things that do not get thought about enough, and those that do not get discussed sufficiently, that are the source of the most trouble in this world. And, so often those ill considered thoughts are someones’ idea of ‘a very great good’.
I demonstrated that in Tenth grade when my English teacher started to leave a section of the ‘board’ open for me to write on, after I had started writing short quotes and poems or excerpts on the corner of the board. One day I wrote a quote that stirred people so much that the Dean of Boys, a former RAF officer, came in to see. He guessed that it was from Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I had deliberately not attributed the quote. When I told the teachers who had said it, the ‘Dean’ was so concerned that he called me in for a talk. The quote was from “Mein Kampf” by Adolph Hitler, and it was remarkably humane. It wasn’t the job of the Dean of Boys to look out for me; but. He was a man, a teacher, a dad, and he wanted to be sure that I knew the story of Nazi Germany and that I was not being led astray by my reading, as there are some worthwhile things written in that book. That is what makes some words so dangerous.
On the other hand, there are horrific things in the Old Testament and it was also righteous, religious people who gave us the Spanish Inquisition and Salem Witch Trials. We make dæmons and angels with words in many ways. The only way that we can learn to tell one from the other is by familiarity and by developing a sharp eye and a discerning mind. Reading broadly and discussing ideas helps develop judgement. Since all dæmons do not look and sound mean and scary and all angels are not about sweetness and light and tidings of great joy, censorship is no antidote for neglect.
Freedom of Speech is both a right and a priviledge. Neither of these mean much if we don’t have the skills to make use of language and to defend ourselves from people of ill will and negligible ability, who also have freedom of speech. In the last thirty years it has been frightening to see just how many people, in positions of authority and power, do not have education, competence or good will. When people in positions of power, call names, threaten and insult others and shout down the opposition, it is safe to conclude that good will is lacking. As for having education, there is a lot more to education than having a diploma or a degree. We have to insist upon civil, thoughtful conduct. This starts with first demanding more of ourselves. We have to expect higher standards of behavior. That also starts with setting strict standards for ourselves. Standards are about conduct and include the way that we use language. It is also about self-restraint, being honest and having a personal code of honor. The words which are in italics, in the last sentence, are Anglo-Saxon and have not yet been decoded. In trying to understand them, we look up the definitions which only tells us how they are being used.
Our daily language is full of misuses, ill usage and often really fun uses. We make the world that we live in with the words that we use. We are responsible for them. Once we speak them or write them, they do not go away. Angel or dæmon, they are still here. Sometimes they are neither, just empty words, things that we say and have no idea what they mean. It is usually better to say nothing than to speak without knowing what it means. Meaningless blather is not harmless.
Using language effectively requires many different skills, some of which will be discussed in this book. Scattered among the words that I will be decoding runically, are several words that have been sources of contention. I hope that thinking about their probable sense will help to resolve that contention and, if not resolve, at least shine a bright light on what is nonsense. I have found that the very process itself, of thinking, is helpful in that regard. This is such a vigorous language that we cannnot just let it shrink and fade away or, worse yet, degenerate into meaningless interjections. It is distressing to see people, particularly in positions of authority, use our language like an offensive weapon. If we the people set a standard, we can rightfully expect ‘authorities’ to either match it or exceed it..
And what, praytell, did any of these digressions into myth-history and the Dark Ages, have to do with ‘We the People’ and English Language literacy in Twenty-First Century Earth?
All of our myths, our histories and our religions are about us; and, all of the stories about them are about us. All are translated into English so that we may learn from them if we will. Our tribes, clans, families, Houses, countries, Great Dynasties, and Kingdoms have grown, peaked, faded, and collapsed. They reform and regrow, sometimes even better if we learn from our errors. We are always in a time of transition, sometimes just more conspicuously so. Presently, we are in a time of great transitions. Some people, including my father, were predicting some of the present changes. He was a lot more optimistic about people, and had a lot more confidence in the human race than many of us do. Papa saw a lot of things during his life as a seaman and showed us some of it with stories and with pictures from his “Brownie” camera.
When he took us out of St. Patrick’s and brought us back to California, he took the southern route, through Mississippi, across through Oklahoma, Texas and Arizona. He showed us the signs. We knew how to read. He told us what all of the signs meant, what they really meant. Mostly, they meant fear, fear of difference, fear of being poor, hungry, alone, fear of being different, fear of who we become when we are fearful. Papa said that we couldn’t go into any of the places where the signs said that we weren’t welcome. One time, we ate barbeque out in back of a restaurant. Most of the time we ate bologna or peanut butter sandwiches and made ‘pit stops’ at the side of the road. Bologna and peanut butter were some nasty food in the late ’40s and early ’50s, and that made a child’s view of segregation a really nasty memory. He took us places just to show things as they were. He made sure that we saw that things were not the same for everyone. He talked what happens when people don’t have and can’t get the necessities of life
When we traveled through the Western Deserts, he would also talk to us about the possibilities. He explained how deserts can be brought to bloom, how the water can be raised up and the salt flats pushed down, then crops planted on sweet earth. This was about 1949, when California’s Imperial Valley and Yuma, Arizona were still mostly desert. Open irrigation ditches brought water. (The All-American Canal) Eucalyptus trees, oleander and Chinaberry were planted as windbrakes to the sand-blasting windstorms. Many of us lived in tar-paper houses with side openings, but no windows.12 There was too much sand blowing for anyone to welcome the wind. The downtown sidewalks in desert towns were often shielded with built-in covers, held up by pillars that blocked the winds and the other plagues. Sometimes there were so many insects that small children had to either be carried or wade knee deep in the crickets. Crickets and other critters got into everything. We had scorpions, spiders, sandfleas, ticks, rattlesnakes; we also had locusts and molds, giving me a greater appreciation for paper and wood houses, which are easier to destroy and rebuild, It was downright Biblical at times. We are never that far from Exodus and Leviticus, as long as people are people and nature is nature.
Some of us have forgotten this part of our nation’s history, and some of us have never known it. We see films of the late 1940s and early ’50s and get nostalgic about bobby sox and poodle skirts, pedal pushers, push-up bras, orange lipstick and red hair, swing dancing, big bands and Rock ‘n’ Roll. We had John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, and Bogart. The flip side of those times was sometimes really ugly. We also practiced crawling beneath our desks to hide from the The Communists, The Bomb or The Chinese Horde, I never did get it straight. While we were worried about foreign threats, here at home our Native Indians were being poisoned in uranium mines and robbed of their rights by treaty, ‘People of Color’ were deprived of basic human rights, including The Vote, equal education, Right to Life (at all stages of life), Mormons were having their families (and freedom) taken away for the crime of multiple marriage, while beating wives and molesting children were ‘private family matters’. Irish, Italians, Mexicans and Jews were ‘redlined’.13 All across the country, our people and our government14 were obsessed with a witch hunt for communists, which frequently targeted specific groups of people. My father always assured me that the desert would bloom, and so would the people. The only time that I saw him in doubt about that was when I was in about the fifth grade, and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were actually put to death. That is the only time in my life that I ever saw my father cry, the only time I have seen a man wracked with grief.
He died in 1956, right as the changes of the 1960s started to gather momentum.
How do we make these demons that cause us so much grief? Why do we make them?
Are they a product of our Factory system?
I never have been able to keep the World’s bogeymen straight. They change from one age to the next and from one part of the country to another. Until I moved from private school to public school, I did not realize how great a factor education and language are in redlining people and making bogeymen. I suspect this derives from our educational system having been given a factory system structure.
I have read that the reason for this factory-system is that Henry Ford’s plan was so effective for manufacturing products that it was adapted to manufacturing a population of factory workers. The schools were to be structured and operated like factories. The first basic rule in manufacturing is standardization. The teachers, pupils, buildings, books, lessons, grading systems (levels of achievement and ways of evaluating achievement) and units of time were all to be standardized.
When people are standardized, the first thing to go is individuality.
There were different levels (grades) for the kinds of knowledge required We memorized facts and learned how to use those facts to make things. We were taught to show up at school and at work, on time and prepared to do our work and do what we were told to do, on a schedule. We were also taught and encouraged to play sports and games to stimulate cooperation as well as competition. And, to support our factory system we also have a political and business structure for managing the educational factory structure. To further standardize our system, we developed terminology to communicate within the educational system. The first term, standards, refers to ‘sameness’, meaning that all parts must be interchangeable, including the people. We have a hypothetical Standard English which we all must learn to read, speak, write and punctuate correctly. People actually believe that Standard English exists. They pay coaches to teach them how to speak English correctly. We have further confused ‘sameness’ with ‘equality’.
We learn what we live.
And while we are struggling with the nets and nooses of words in which we have become ensnared, our people, including our very very young children, continue to Learn What They Live. Among the things they (we) learn is that ‘work’ is a burden and that play is fun. We learn that worth is measured in things, money and posessions, how you look and what you have, who your parents are and where you live. In short, we all learn what we live. We live like good factory workers. What we live is composed of the authoritative words and messages which we hear and read every day, telling us all the things that we must do and be, what we should eat and when, what we should weigh and why, what we should spend and save. Some of these ‘standards’ are not just difficult to achieve, but impossible. They also change every ten years or so. Many of our people get most of their human contact from salesmen of one kind or another, either face to face, in writing, in speech and on various screens. While we are engrossed in trying to meet all of these standards which are expected of us, we often waste our gift of life.
We are in a period of great transition. Our English language came into being in the 10th Century during another period of great transition now known as The Dark Ages.
Great changes are taking place. We either make the changes or they get made for us. That is one of life’s lessons. For us to make these changes instead of just being moved around like chess pieces, we need to start thinking about how we want to fashion Man’s Time (Weorld). To do this we need to use language. We make our world with symbols; and language symbolizes the changes that we want to make. If we don’t make the changes ourselves, someone else will.
What do some words of our common words symbolize, not just ‘define’? What is the difference?
Think sympathy, sympathize, Sym is a Gr.L. element that has the sense of ‘with’, ‘together’. A symbol is some small thing which connects us with another. These meanings derive from decoding according to ‘sense elements’ which make a physical connection with the thoughts and feelings. This differs from the dictionary convention of ‘defining’ which sets limits on meaning based on common usage. Expressing the sense of a word is an alternative way of “defining” words which does not so much define as it imbues words with a sensual connection to us, and between us and all that we are expressing with our words. Sense elements allow us to express our selves, our thoughts, our ideas, not just our advanced vocabulary. Real ideas are an art form, and you never know just how much so until you see that happy, slightly confused look that others have when they get what you said, when there is an idea that resounds with them. Most of the time we have to wait for a song or a poem to get such clear language. The following words are examples of words’ meanings expressed according to their sense elements.
Myth yth, like eth, ith, and uth refer to territories in our mind or memory. We use these to refer to those distinctive areas that are real but not physically measurable, like ‘ethnic’ and ‘truth’are not physically quantifiable. Another ‘territory’ that we have almost lost is ‘ith’ from ‘sith’. The word ‘since’ is a contraction of ‘sith then’, which refers to an indefinite time-place, the mythic Plain of Sith. We now say ‘since then’ since we don’t remember the origin of the word ‘since’. The word ‘Myth’ begins with MAN, the rune for mankind (M) and is about our spiritual territory, eternal truths about us.
History ‘Hist’ means ‘listen’. To list is to lean toward. History means ‘Listen to the story’
Story Stories are the ‘ore’ of man’s time (world) which are ‘stored’ in ‘stories’ that contain the experiences of human memory. The sense element -ore is also found in words like ‘bore’, ‘pore’, ‘more’, ‘wore’. The A.S. meaning of ‘ore’ is a ‘mine’15 or ‘unwrought metal’.
Religion has Gr.L. sense elements. The prefix re- means ;back, away from’The root lig, like ligate or ligature , means ‘to tie’. The suffix -ion has both a sense of meaning and a function of grammar (organization). To make the sense of the suffix memorable, I relate it to the word ‘ion’, a charged particle. That’s also the runic sense; but, the prefix and root are etymological16 definitions which is part of how dictionary definitions are arrived at, by prefix, root, suffix.
Definition To ‘define’ is to set limits or boundaries. Define has Gr. L. sense elements. De- is ‘down or away from’ and fini has the sense of ‘end’. A way to remember -ion or -tion is as a charged particle that changes a verb (action) into a substantive, a thing, a noun.
Symbol is probably Gr. L., sym- meaning together. “Webster’s… has -bol standing for ballein, to throw. The word has been Anglicized so -bol could be construed as changeable, fluid speech in which the meaning is representative rather than literal. Symbolic does not mean ‘unreal’.
Read means ‘counsel’. The /R/ is RAD which is about transformation (changing form). Transformation through reading is one of several ways of bringing about change. Work and play are two more ways.
Work See WR among the runes. Wyn-Rad is about the joy of transformation, It is about making things by scratching, twisting, etching,- both writing and wrighting. The /K/ represents the ‘inverted chalice’, the emptiness that wants filling. Work is a need.
Play Peorth (P) Coming into being in a ‘birthing’ manner. Lagu (L) Fluidity, changeability. The sense element -ay has the sense of a kind of pathway with equidistant edges. The specifics in this imagery are based upon comparisons of many words with the same sense elements such as pay, way, say, stay, may, bay, nay. Play has the sense of re- creating with some guidelines or rules.
Move to a different-or new -file 2-10-2011
START OVER ON A NEW HOTPLATE
English The Vulgate began as a literacy system for helping people to improve their reading skills. In working as a literacy tutor and trainer I found out just how many people have difficulty with their reading. Many of these people have graduated college and are in prestigious positions yet have difficulty decoding words. I proposed to use the methods that I used with my son wherein I broke words down into their sound and sense elements. In the process of isolating those elements I found out much that I didn’t know. With the help of my friend, a preschooler, I discovered some significant questions that I had not considered yet. Children who are just trying to figure things out ask the best questions. They ask what they don’t know
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- Judith has written (and re-written) the pages below, initially for a book and now for this website. These files are still under revision, and should not be treated as stable documents.