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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Context is as important to the meaning of a quotation as the words themselves. This is true when quoting Scripture, and it's equally true when repeating daily chatter.

Every issue of Newsweek Magazine has an entire page called "Perspectives" that prints provocative quotations followed immediately by just enough context to underscore the insight, irony, or inanity of the “sound bite.” Here's an example from April 3, 2006:

"'This is humiliating for Islam ... Cut off his head.' Muslim cleric Abdul Raoulf, on former medical-aid worker Abdul Rahman, who faces the death penalty in Afghanistan for converting to Christianity." [Update: Rahman was later surreptitiously released and hasn't been seen since.]

Some things can be misunderstood if the context isn't known:

“I thoroughly thought the trough thing through, and though those are tough troughs, thinth I thought I was through, I threw it out. Thorry.” Explained the lisping owner of the small-town soda fountain who had recently changed his storefront theme from “Old West” to "1950's retro." Two hog farmers (who rarely came into town) were in search of a sturdy “slop bin” and had inquired about the missing horse trough that had been part of the front-curb décor for years.

You see? In context, that lisping line is crystal clear—thort of.

(In case you're wondering, I made up that last example. The lisping soda jerk doesn't exist, though his shop sounds like fun place for thippin' thrawberry phothphates at a "thock hop." The hog farmers, however, do exist. They're friends back in Iowa and could always use a another tough trough if you're throwing one away. Hello, Roger and Richard!)

P.S. What prompted this post was not the value of knowing the context of quoted lines (as important as that is). Actually… I had a recent run-in with spell check while typing of the word “thoroughfare,” which I muddled with the term "thru-way." I sometimes have a tough time with those "t-g & h" words.

I wood be lost without spell check.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Though I am sometimes confused and frustrated by the many 'advantages' of Microsoft operating systems, I would be lost and found less than smart if it were not for SPELL CHECK. Thank you Mr. Gates

19/7/06 9:49 AM  

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