Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Katie Nuttall Language Usage #4-5


At promptly 8:00 this morning, the workers arrived at our apartment building. There were extremely punctual. It got me thinking of all the phrases associated with being on time: “They arrived at 8:00…on the dot, on the button, sharp.” “On the dot” could possibly be an expression of referencing to the minute hand of the clock being exactly over the dot marking the given minute on the dial. Then looking at the word sharp: Sharp - adjective. Probably before 1200 "scharp"; developed from Old English (before 830) "scearp" cutting, keen, sharp. The use of "sharp" as an adjective to mean "promptly, exactly" was first recorded in 1840, according to "The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology" by Robert K. Barnhart (HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 1995). It didn’t have anymore information about the evolution of the term. But it would seem to be an easy jump from meaning clear and distinct to "promptly, exactly." It is interesting to think about all how these references with time came to be.

But the second bit of irony that occurred was that the worker who was busily painting the outside of our building in a metal contraption was blasting music. But, it wasn’t just any music. They were the songs of Percy Sledge. So I could clearly hear the lyrics, “When a man loves a woman he can do no wrong…” coming through the window and flooding my bedroom. In fact he was even serenading us, adding to the volume level. I just loved the irony of the language situation. Here there were oral words that were contradicting the physical nonverbal communication of the worker. He was happily painting the building enjoying his up-lifting blasting music. Yet he was unaware of the hostitlity he was causing due to his early arrival to the tenants. His music seemed to have the opposite affect: wrong time and place. It made me think when we say something…the timing…is extremely important. But, next time...I might throw this guy my iPod!

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