Monday, July 22, 2013

Phrases and Meanings

You get along decently making a fool of yourself and then start feeling the sudden urge to write something meaningful (which is probably a way of making a greater fool of yourself than you were doing while you were trying). The problem is that you rack your brains and plumb the (extremely shallow) depths of your mind and find that you have never acquired any meaningful knowledge all your life. With the stubbornness of someone, who rarely gets an idea but holds on to the one he does get no matter how absurd it is, you are unwilling to let go of the dream to write something meaningful. Well! The next best thing to writing something meaningful is to write about the meaning of something. (I have a nagging suspicion that the first dictionary was written by a guy like me - finding that he could write nothing meaningful he went ahead and started tabulating the meanings of words)

Having done a bit of 'Words and Meanings', I thought I could perhaps turn my attention to some phrases that are used to mean something else than what the dictionary would say they mean. I do not mean to address a phrase like "Good Morning", which does not necessarily mean that the person saying it has seriously assessed the characteristics of the morning and found it to be good or that he is praying with all his heart that the morning be good for you. It is merely a way of saying, "I see you and you have reason to believe I can recognize you and would expect me to acknowledge that I have seen you", as all of us know. Indeed most of us would be surprised to learn that the literal meaning is at all different - and that it is probably a shortened form of "Wish you a good morning".

Now, then, the more important among us utter a curt "Morning". It is not that they merely want to state the fact that it was morning without any unsubstantiated allegations about its nature. It is the same "I see you etc. etc." but with the additional meaning of "I do not need to be polite to you." Most of them, however, do not necessarily think that you were nervously hanging around wondering whether it was really morning after all till they came around and officially declared it to be so. Of course there are some who are actually surprised that you could have any doubts about the fact that the Sun would have retired abashed - like a guest who came too early to a party - unless they declared it to be morning but such wonder-beings are in a minority, believe me.

Uhoh! It looks like I have behaved like the guy who gets the microphone and says, "I will not keep you guys waiting for dinner too long" at the start of his speech and then pauses for breath only after an hour or so. Having said that I would not take up your time with descriptions about the meaning of "Good Morning" as a phrase, I have waxed eloquent about it. We shall get to the next phrase later then. Adios, till then (and, NO, it is not a threat!)

44 comments:

  1. "I have a nagging suspicion that the first dictionary was written by a guy like me - finding that he could write nothing meaningful he went ahead and started tabulating the meanings of words." - Your asides are as charming as the sans-parenthesis parts. Funnily insightful. Oh, and did I forget to say a very "Good Morning" to you this Monday morning so well begun? :)

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    1. Thanks Sakshi! And a very 'Good Morning' to you too :)

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  2. Mornings are good only if you don't have to wake up. That is why they took off the 'good'. We have finally realized that we were fooling ourselves.

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  3. And I just realized that I indeed mean -- wish you a good morning when I say good morning. But these days, it is so much easier and nicer to say Hi or hello. Love the universality and ease of it :).

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    1. Of course it is better - you also do not face the embarrassment of finding that you have said "Good Morning" just as the Sun sinks below the horizon :)

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  4. And it is people like me who love reading the dictionary. I go to find one word and end up reading about ten pages. How weird is that? !

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    1. Then you should love this series - of which this is but the start :)

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  5. Morrning!!..well.. trying to say it in a musical way.. stretching the 'mor' a bit longer and then an abrupt 'ning'..:) loved reading it!!

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  6. I want to get your thoughts on Good Night next. I already have a bunch of salacious thoughts on when it might be deemed appropriate to use that phrase!

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    1. Now me - I can only think of a particular tone in which "Good Night" can be said which means "I hate the very sight of you and do not want to see you ever again and may every moment of your night be filled with screaming nightmares" :)

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  7. And "have a good day" means the same? :)

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    1. Ah! That probably means "Glad to see the back of you" :)

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  8. That dictionary line was superb Suresh ha ha... Good Morning is something inculcated in us from KG.... A customary 'Good Morning Madam' is compulsory in all schools ...And the children would simply utter it like a thousand other things they learn without knowing what on earth that means!

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  9. I think it started with lack of time. People are too busy to say the entire line.

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    1. The very fact that you cannot spare the time to even give good wishes means that you do not wish from the heart, right? :)

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  10. a genuine good morning really helps in making the mornings a bit better ... but most of the time I just end up repeating gm without actually meaning anything ...
    and goodnight / g'nite for now :)

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  11. This line- The next best thing to writing something meaningful is to write about the meaning of something - is a gem!

    This is the age of impatience - where we have time for everything but social niceties. I make it a point not to respond when someone greets me with a GM. Seriously? do your fingers have arthritis?

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  12. Hope, after reading this, I don’t say “good morning” and promptly burst out laughing. You might end up making us all look heavenward with suspicion after the greeting. I am decidedly worried about the rest of your meaning fest. Good one, CS :)

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    1. Thanks KayEm! I really think you have need to be worried :)

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  13. Lol....I had never thought so much about this completely innocent-looking "good morning" phrase; now you have got me started :P

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    1. Hope I keep you interested going forth for I have more phrases to come :)

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  14. 'Nice to see you',how was your day?'---how do you like these phrases?

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  15. I cannot say "Good Morning" without wondering if I'll get my head snapped off. You see, I had boss who would growl and snap at unsuspecting people wishing him so with a "What's so good about this morning?"

    Looking forward to reading more in the series :)

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    1. I have had one such in my life too :) And been sorely tempted to reply "Nothing - NOW" :)

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  16. A perfect humorist, you are, Suresh. The ads season is gone and phrases season has begun, I guess. You made a mess of this little innocent phrase. And yes, I know another meaning of this - when someone says 'Good Morning Sweetheart' to their partner, it actually means, 'Would you be kind enough to prepare a cup of team for me please (right now)?

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    1. Thanks Diwa! Well I have no experience of that one - from either side :)

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  17. Ha Ha ! :D:D "Most of them, however, do not necessarily think that you were nervously hanging around wondering whether it was really morning after all till they came around and officially declared it to be so"... you do spin it so nicely ! When are you writing a book on humor or are you already at it or ahem.. have you already published it?

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    1. Me publish a book and my blog not blazon it forth every hour on the hour? :)

      Thanks Ash!

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  18. that was a fun read...and im guilty of saying 'morning' all the time...the 'good' having been swallowed to compensate for the lack of it!

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  19. Enjoyable read - this attack on these cliched phrases that have so become part of our day to day lives.

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    1. Actually I wanted to set aside the cliched phrases before starting on what I wanted to start :) But, as usual, words ran away with me :)

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  20. I am always very late at a place - Reader's Heaven .. I wish you a very good afternoon Suresh ji :)
    When wishing becomes .. greeting.. and then .. compulsion .. Morning greetings get sliced to Morn . teenagers are miser in spending the rest .. and force me to tell them why should I .. you mourn and your family, bad kid !! :D

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  21. I was smiling as I read about those who respond saying "Morning". I have done that often myself in a sing-song voice with a smile - it's just been a norm - never thought too much into it. But now that I read this, I hope no one took it to be a rude response :(

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    1. Hmm! Some probably did - though it is tone of voice and facial expression together with what you say that decides how people take it.

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