Monday, September 12, 2016

In a Little While

Yet another demonstration of the ability of words to inflict damages may be found in the adjective "little," itself an improvised explosive of an adjective, meant to demean and/or damn with the syrup of faint praise.

Little, of itself, is an innocuous way of reminding us how small the consequences of a matter may be. Thus there is no reason for alarm if when, say, we are pouring milk for someone's tea or coffee, and the recipient says "A little more." 

We're still with nary a raised hackle during an attempt at a discussion conducted with civility, when we ask if our argument or vision is approaching that of the person we're engaging, and that individual replies, "A little closer."

Your attention, while reading a sprawling critical review taking in three books on a particular subject, was wrenched away from the topic at hand when the reviewer spoke of "the extraordinary little book written on the matter by X (because names are not important here.)." 

Trouble aboundeth with immediacy when you saw how easy it was to infer that the "little" book in question was extraordinary in its smallness, perhaps little more than a pamphlet, rather than a book of modest size, say one hundred sixty pages, nevertheless filled with eloquent insightfulness.

Some poetry chapbooks are sixty-four pages or an even more scant thirty-two. In reviewing such a book, you'd do well to remark on how much soul-stirring or morally upsetting matters were raised in so few pages, but you would not say of it that it was an interesting little book.  

Since you've published well over five hundred book reviews, you can also add the notion here that you would not likely want to write, much less publish, a review of a book you did not enjoy, having long since realized you would not be happy writing about a book you did not enjoy.

Many of your friends and acquaintances have in one way or another something to do with books. You cannot imagine a circumstance where you would say, "I read and enjoyed your little book," which would, to your mind, be the equivalent of diminishing the intent and importance of the book.

The same applies to friends who are actors, musicians, or some related type of performer such as lecturer, dancer, photographer.  "I saw your little performance..."  Er, no.

"Little" deserves its own chapter in any book or data base relating to the coding practise of a particular culture. "Little" reflects the user's wish to identify with an acceptable norm, where variations to the norm are graded in such additional terms as quaint, or that most heavily coded adjectives of all, interesting.

Be on guard. English is a vast sea of words, drawn from global cultures and its own innate joy of originating words, phrases, and idioms, many of which have been uprooted from their own sources of origin to perform a "greater" service to all of humanity.

If you are not careful, in a little while, you could be drenched in a tsunami of words with vague or no meanings at all.

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