Apr 6, 2006

Distinguishing Features And Prominent People

The mistake for us as human beings lay not in climbing down from the trees but in learning to talk to each other. Words, you see.

Words can be so many different things, nested with hundreds of meanings depending on context, tone of delivery, and most of all, differences in language. When Chevrolet launched the Nova in the mid 70s they didn't realise that their sales would suffer in Spanish speaking Mexico because in that language "no va" means "doesn't go."

I'm not selling cars here, however. What I am doing, however, is discussing words. Let me 'splain.

No, is too long. Let me sum up.

I've been listening to my local public radio station's Spring Fund Raiser. One of their thank-you gifts donated by a local sponsor is one of those high-end Tad Hueger watches. (Yes, I'm being foolish. It's a Tag Hauer Formula 1, if you're curious.) The thing that gets me is this--the announcer keeps refering to it as a "chronograph" and not a "watch."

So how many ways can you say "watch" and still mean the same thing? And when is a watch not a watch? I have carried pocket watches for years and years now. I remember getting a Mickey da Mouse watch when I was 6, and I even got a watch from Office Depot for working there three or four years, I forget which. Prices vary, but I have never been able to bring myself to pay more than $40 for a watch. I can't see myself wearing a five-hundred dollar chronograph, not even if I were Sonny Crocketting down a moonlit boulevard in my Ferrari Testosterone.

And speaking of, let's examine one of those terms, shall we? Specifically the term that brought this entire post to mind: "chronograph." Chrono + graph. "Chronos" is, if you remember your classical languages, Greek for "time." "Graph" is one of those tall orange-and-tan long-necked leaf-eaters that live in Africa, so what we have then is a word meaning 'vegetarian time-keeping device.' What Formula 1 cars and some guy named after a B movie actor from Blade Runner is beyond me.

Before I get myself in deeper I'm going to retire from the field in disgrace. And yes, that's a long way to go for a single dumb joke. Talk about a waste of effort.

Anybody got the time?


Autumn said...


Irrelephant said...

Nice riposte!

Vulgar Wizard said...

Is that THE Autumn?

Irrelephant said...

If I follow your camel of thought, no, that's another Autumn, no less important that the first Autumn, but the Autumn I think you're thinking of, the one in Mississippi who had dealings with Mr. Bunk Hisself doesn't read the old Irrelephant that I know of.

My brain hurts now.

Caffeinated Mommy said...

Autumn is one of my favorite seasons.

Autumn said...

funny, mine too.