Showing posts with label rhetoric. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rhetoric. Show all posts

Monday 13 February 2023

On "Putin's American Cheerleaders"

Critical Thinking skills

I have to preface this post by revisiting "critical thinking skills"--that phrase used by university programs in the humanities and social sciences as a core justification for their existence.  The vast majority of university students graduate from these programs.  In theory,  millions upon millions of university-educated Americans and Canadians can claim an expertise in identifying arguments based on logic and evidence and, conversely, immediately spot logical fallacies:  the ad hominem, the straw man, guilt by association, and rhetorical obfuscation.  

"Putin's American Cheerleaders"

I read Adrian Karatnycky's Wall Street Journal article, "Putin’s American Cheerleaders: How Jeffrey Sachs, Mark Episkopos and Dimitri Simes contribute to the Russian propaganda effort" against the grain, as a string of logical fallacies light on rebuttal evidence.  The headline makes obvious the ad hominem intent to attack the authors rather than their arguments.  

We Are at war

But let's be clear:  we are at war.  The war is being fought by Ukrainians, but it is a war between Russia and the collective West, led by the USA.  The war has caused global precarity, massive destruction and the deaths of thousands.  Beyond the concrete devastation, the war in Ukraine is, above all, a propaganda war.  Arguably, propaganda will determine the outcome of this war.  In this context, we shouldn't be surprised that we are all likened to soldiers on the battlefield, and any deviation from the Western narrative is collaborating with the enemy, if not betrayal and treason. 

And yet . . .

Even if we are all conscripts in the propaganda war should we accept "to do and die" in a nuclear Crimean War without stopping "to reason why"? Is it unreasonable to invoke "thinking skills" in the midst of this war?  No-one knows the whole story of this war.  Even in Kyiv or Moscow or Washington or Berlin or London or Ottawa, even on the battlefield, even with drones and satellites, people know as much and as little as they can see and hear and read.  In a war, especially in a propaganda war like this one, enormous effort is put into controlling what is seen and heard and read. 

The Dominant Western narrative

The dominant Western narrative, primarily in the legacy media, is that escalation is the only acceptable solution to the conflict in Ukraine.  The argument is presented that Russia must be defeated because failure to defeat Russia now will lead to Russian expansionism and greater escalation somewhere down the road.  Overlaying this argument is an appeal to morality.  Russia must be defeated because the invasion and the conduct of the war are immoral, criminal and evil.  Anything less than total Russian defeat would be a victory for evil.    

Does the Western narrative hold up under scrutiny?

Under the microscope of critical reasoning skills,  the arguments for escalation do not hold up well.  Let me quickly insert that this does not mean that they are wrong or untrue.  They are simply unproven, counterfactual, hypothetical, and speculative.  We will inevitably try to imagine what Russia might do after the war, but there is a weakness in trying to be too specific and too certain about what might happen in the distant future.  We can say with fair certainty that a negotiated peace--what the Western narrative qualifies as a Russian victory--would include some sort of autonomy if not outright Russian control of Crimea and the eastern regions of Ukraine; that is, those regions with significant populations of ethnic Russians where President Viktor Yanucovitch, who was overthrown in a bloody coup in 2014, had his strongest democratic support.

The Moral argument

The moral argument for escalating the war is equally weak.  The argument depends on our accepting as axiomatic that the war is between absolute evil and pure goodness.  The goal of propaganda is to promote this vision, but even cursory scrutiny of the context of the war makes this absolutist vision impossible to maintain.  Some 13,000 people were killed in the Donbas region in the aftermath of the bloody coup overthrowing President Yanocovitch in 2014 and before Russia's full-scale invasion in 2022.  Even the US Congress has banned the sale of weapons to Ukraine's Azimov Battalion on the grounds that the battalion openly includes neo-Nazis in its ranks.

Naming and Shaming

I first read "Putin's American Cheerleaders" because it provides a list of a half dozen Americans who question the proxy war between Russia and the West going on in Ukraine--which isn't generally easy to come by.  The article is a telling example of widespread, ham-fisted attempts to discredit, shame and silence anyone who dares to question the war. Articles of this ilk are emotionally evocative and are based on an underlying presumption of moral superiority shared by writer and reader.  The vocabulary is emotionally charged but logical consideration of risks and outcomes is avoided.  For potential outcomes, the war in Ukraine should be compared to other recent wars spearheaded by the USA--Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Vietnam and Korea--but these are comparisons which the dominant narrative tends to avoid.

Guilt by Association

While Mr. Karatnycky concedes that "experts are free to challenge the pro-Ukraine views held by the vast majority of Americans," he decries the fact that these American experts have appeared on a Russian program hosted by Vladimir Solovyov, whom he describes as a Russian propagandist. Karatnycky has more to say about Solovyov than about the "American cheerleaders."  The Americans' failure is guilt by association with Solovyov.  According to Karatnycky, what Jeffrey Sachs said on Russian media was

that a “massive number” of Americans “wish to exit the conflict in Ukraine,” condemned the U.S. administration for “disinformation,” and called President Volodymyr Zelensky’s conditions for peace “absolute nonsense.”

None of these claims about American attitudes are obvious errors of fact.  Zelensky's conditions for peace go beyond total Russian defeat and surrender.  They sound a lot like the "conditions" imposed upon Germany after the First World War. The Washington Post has reported that the Biden administration has been asking Zelensky to dial down his "conditions for peace." 

Framing the War as exclusively between Russia and Ukraine

Karatnycky's awkward--and therefore revealing--attempts to frame the war as between Ukraine and Russia leaving the USA and even NATO out of the equation is typical of the dominant narrative.  People who dare to suggest a negotiated peace are not identified as critics of the war but "Ukraine critics." Americans who endorse escalation of the war are identified as "pro-Ukrainian."

NATO Expansion isn't a threat!  Really!?

Jeffrey Sachs is characterized as a "Putin cheerleader" because, as with a number of other "foreign policy realists," he "has long argued that the West provoked Russia into invading Ukraine in 2014 by virtue of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 'threatening' expansion toward Russia."  Karatnycky's quotation marks around the word "threatening" are intended to display a tone of sarcasm.  Still, no matter what your politics, how can anyone look at the ongoing expansion of NATO to Russia's borders and logically conclude that the expansion of an inimical military alliance to a nation's very borders is not "threatening"?

What Jeffrey Sachs said . . .

Furthermore, beyond the threatening posture of NATO, as Sachs points out in an interview on Democracy Now, [ . . .] the United States, very unwisely and very provocatively, contributed to the overthrow of Mr. Yanukovych in early 2014, setting in motion the tragedy before our eyes."  

What Cannot be said:  Ukraine is ethnically divided between east and west

One argument which shaming the authors is designed to preclude is that Ukraine is ethnically divided.  As Sacks elaborates:

The "Minsk Accords" must also be denied

The resulting Minsk Accords, as we have seen, are quashed and denied in pro-war editorials, even when the narrative requires contradicting its own sources.  Sachs argues:

What happened — and this is crucial to understand — is that, in 2015, there were agreements to solve this problem by giving autonomy to these eastern regions that were predominantly ethnic Russian. And these are called the Minsk agreements, Minsk I and Minsk II.

John Bolton was in Ukraine in 2019 and reports that Volodymyr Zelensky, who was elected promising to end Ukrainian corruption and make peace with the eastern regions,  "was determined to get the Donbas back as soon as possible and end the war within the Minsk agreements" (457 The Room Where It Happened).  However in the intervening years there has been consistent repudiation and denial of the Minsk Accords in Western and Ukrainian media.  It is as if they never existed.

The Zeitgeist:  Preparing for the historical dialectic

Karatnycky claims that "Most U.S. guests on Russian media come from the fringe."  He names Virginia State Sen. Richard Black and former United States Marine Corps intelligence officer, former United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) weapons inspector Scott Ritter.  However, the first name on his list of "Putin's American Cheerleaders" is Tulsi Gabbard, a former American Congresswoman and candidate in the 2016 Democratic Presidential Primaries.  In her interviews, she has a very simple and clear message:  "The world has never been closer to a nuclear war."

The rule of the historical dialectic is that the Zeitgeist will change over time and the dominant thesis of the age will give way to its antithesis.  If the rule of the dialectic holds in this case, those "fringe" arguments against escalation, which are everywhere on social media in blogs and vlogs and interviews but nowhere in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, or Globe and Mail, may soon become the dominant Western narrative.

Wednesday 8 February 2023

Is the War in Ukraine about Democracy?

The number of articles, essays and editorials on the war in Ukraine is overwhelming.  They also tend to be quite tedious because the vocabulary--the word choice and adjectives--invariably announces in advance what the authors are going to say.  Any fact can be spun in one direction or another to fit an established narrative.  Is it possible to say anything about this war without surrendering to spin?  I have decided that on this subject less is more.  My ambition is to present a few facts and let you, dear reader, decide what conclusions or interpretations should be derived from those facts.  Hmmm, already I'm being disingenuous.  I'm choosing the facts, so my choice of facts already implies a particular interpretation or conclusion.  Let me try again.

It is a common claim that the war in Ukraine is being fought to preserve democracy both in Ukraine and, in some accounts, more widely in Europe and the Western world.  In his State of the Union this week, President Biden called the war in Ukraine "the defense of democracy." I have come across a number of agreed-upon facts that may not contradict this claim but should at least invite us to consider the question.  These are uncontested facts.  They may be avoided or re-spun or buried beneath a mountain of verbiage, but no-one is denying that they are true.

1.  Viktor Yanucovitch was elected President of Ukraine for a five-year term in 2010.  The election was overseen by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE/ODIHR).   According to the organization's final report:   "The presidential election met most OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections [ . . . .] The process was transparent and offered voters a genuine choice between candidates representing diverse political views."

2.  In 2013, President Yanucovitch pursued a trade agreement with the EU but pulled out of the negotiations before it was signed.

3.  Demonstrations began in Maidan Square in reaction to the news that the trade agreement would not be signed.  Demonstrations continued for months and eventually became violent.  Over 100 people were killed.  President Yanucovitch fled the country in February 2014 for exile in Russia.

4.  In February 2014, Russian forces seized control of Crimea.  

5.  In May 2014, Petro Poroshenco was elected President of Ukraine and signed the EU trade agreement June 2014.

6.  In 2019, Volodymyr Zelensky was elected President of Ukraine, winning 73.22% of the vote over the incumbent Poroshenco with 24.45% of the vote.  Later Poroshenco had to flee the country accused of corruption and treason.

7.  In February 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

In this selection of facts, I have dutifully avoided any claim which might be contested.  Recently I came upon this web site which offers a breakdown of election results in Ukraine.

Here is a breakdown of the 2010 election results in which Victor Yanucovitch won the presidency.  I invite you to consider the names of the areas where Yanucovitch had the greatest support.  If you have been following the news on the war in Ukraine, I invite you to compare the sites where battles are being waged with the areas where Yanucovitch had his strongest democratic support.

 Note, for example, these particular regions where Yanucovitch had strong democratic support and battles are now being waged.

Crimea:           78.24%

Donetsk:           90.44%

Luhansk:           88.96%

Kherson:          59.98% 

Odessa:            74.14%

Zaporizhzhia:    71.50%

 Yanucovitch's opponent in the presidential run-off, Yulia Tymoshenko of the All-Ukrainian Union – Motherland Party, challenged the results but her complaints were eventually withdrawn. The OSCE/ODIHR report noted that "During both rounds, Ms. Tymoshenko misused administrative resources for campaigning, thus blurring the line between her roles as candidate and state official and skewing the playing field in her favour."  The report also points out that

In the most recent census, 67.5 per cent of the population declared Ukrainian as their mother tongue, while 29.6 per cent named Russian. As official voter information and election material was available only in Ukrainian, an insufficient command of Ukrainian may have formed an obstacle for minority voters to gain full access to election related information.

Nonetheless, Viktor Yanucovitch of the Party of Regions eventually won the democratic vote, and held office until he was overthrown in 2014 and the war began.

Ironically, in his White House memoir, John Bolton claims that "The State Department didn't want me to meet with Tymoshenko separately because they thought she was too close to Russia [. . . .]" (448 The Room Where It Happened).





Monday 3 June 2019

What Is Irony?

What is irony?

Irony is the interruption or disruption of an established or expected discourse.  (This definition might not seem immediately helpful, but bear with me.)   Let's begin with a simple example of verbal irony.  You and a friend are looking out the window on a cold and rainy day.  Your friend says, "Beautiful weather."   Your friend is being ironic.  In the context, the "expected discourse" is "what terrible weather!"  You assume that what your friend "really" means is that the weather is terrible because that is what you would expect him to say.  In fact, some people claim that "saying the opposite of what you mean" is a definition of verbal irony.  However, it is rare that the intended meaning of an ironic statement is exactly the opposite of what is said.  Irony is almost always ambiguous (see Do No Harm:  Avoid Irony).

Verbal, situational and dramatic irony

There are three different kinds of irony:  verbal irony, situational irony and dramatic irony.  Irony resists definition because these three types of irony seem totally different from and unrelated to each other.  Verbal irony is saying one thing but meaning something completely different (nearly the opposite) of what is said. (As in the example above.) Situational irony is when what happens seems surprisingly, strikingly different from what you expect to happen.  (Example:  A ballerina, famous for her balance and grace, trips and falls while crossing the street.)  Dramatic irony is when we in the audience know something that the characters in a play or film don't. (Example:  John's best friend Peter is hiding in the bedroom closet.  We, the audience, know Peter is there and has been sleeping with John's wife.  In this dramatic or comic situation, John's telling his wife how much he admires his good friend Peter is dramatic irony.)  What each of these three different types of irony share is that they are the interruption or disruption of an established or expected discourse.


What is a discourse?

A statement, a speech, an announcement, a text, a paragraph can all be synonyms for "a discourse."  When we talk about "discourse" what we are referring to are all the ways in which sentences or utterances or images are connected together.  Analyzing the discourse of a paragraph, we could be looking at something as simple as the words used to connect one sentence to the next--words like "however," "although," "furthermore," "therefore" and "consequently" which connect one sentence to another and tell us the relationship between two sentences.  In the discourse analysis of a speech or a television commercial or a literary work, we might consider the themes, motifs, tone, style, patterns of repetition, the use of specific words or images; in short, all the elements that hold the parts together.

Disrupting the discourse of a eulogy

Imagine that Felix is delivering the eulogy at the funeral of his best friend George.  In the middle of expressions of admiration and his sadness at the loss of his friend,  Felix inserts "and George was a terrible golfer." This interruption of the tone and theme and formal register of the eulogy would be understood as irony.  What exactly does "and George was a terrible golfer" mean in this context?  It doesn't mean that Felix has decided to criticize George's golf at this moment.  Nor does it mean the opposite, that "George was an excellent golfer."  Exactly what an ironic statement means is always ambiguous.  Why did Felix say it?  We can imagine lots of good reasons for Felix's decision to interrupt his own discourse.  Irony--among men--often signals a bond of mutual understanding and communication.  (You can tell that two men are old and good friends by the way they freely insult each other.)   Felix may have wanted to lighten the tone.  The aside and comic relief are typical instances of irony.  Perhaps Felix knew that too much sadness, even at a funeral, wasn't George's style and this interruption would hold back the pathos. The irony might even make people laugh; even at funerals, it is sometimes good to laugh.

Can a situation be a discourse?

Anything can be called "a text."  (See Structuralism, semiotics and readings of the everyday world.)  Since anything--your life, my life, what happened at lunch today--can be considered and "read" as a "text," it can be analyzed as discourse.  So:  today at lunch you decided to abandon your habit of eating junk food and opted for the "healthful salad" instead . . . and consequently got food poising.  That is ironic.  The expected discourse of your narrative (the story of your lunch) and your decision was that you were going to be healthier, but the opposite (or near opposite) happened--you got sick.

Even dramatic irony interrupts a discourse

The basis of dramatic irony is that we know something that a character doesn't.  The literary critic Northrop Frye describes any literary work where the reader felt superior to the characters as being in the "ironic mode."  In my example above, we can see that John's, the cuckold's, discourse is interrupted and disrupted by our knowledge of the fact that Peter is hiding in the closet.

Where's the irony?

A constant problem in defining irony is identifying where exactly the irony is?  Is irony in the intentions of the speaker?  Is irony a matter of interpretation? Both are possible, but as Linda Hutcheon has argued, ultimately, irony just happens (Irony's Edge).  It happens in life, in situations, in stories and books, in performances.  Sometimes it is intended; sometimes it isn't.  Sometimes it is interpreted, sometimes it isn't.  Like the sound of that infamous lonely tree falling in the desert, irony exists when it is perceived.

Irony as a trope or figure of speech

A potential problem with what I've been saying here is that every trope or figure of speech is a disruption of literal discourse.  When Mary announces that "John is a pig," she is speaking metaphorically--even if she is unaware of the fact.  Her statement is a trope, a turning away from, the literal meaning of her words.  She is not saying that John is a four-legged source of pork chops.

As Paul de Mann has claimed, "Irony is the trope of tropes" ("The Concept of Irony," Aesthetic Ideology). Viewed in the other direction, every figure of speech is a shift, a disruption or interruption, moving the discourse from a literal meaning to a figurative meaning. Each of these figurative shifts is minor or subtle or micro or partial or local in relation to the macro shift of irony.  Consider the possibility that when Mary says "John is a pig," she is being both metaphoric and ironic.  The metaphoric level of her words is minor; in fact, would go unnoticed.  However, if she is being ironic--let's imagine that everyone knows that John is obsessively neat and clean--then the shift of meaning is of another magnitude.

Irony as "random"

I find it instructive that when millennials encounter a delightful example of irony, they often describe it, gleefully, as "random."  It is an intuitive observation that irony disturbs a pattern or sense of order by introducing a non sequitur; that is, something disconnected, that doesn't fit and might, in the extreme, seem completely "random."

The origins of "irony"

The word "irony" is derived from a stock character in Greek comedy known as the eiron--the superficially "dumb guy" who turns out to be quite clever.  The eiron is a dissembler who hides his intelligence beneath a facade of ignorance and humility.   There is no verb in English for "being ironic" but, if we wanted to imagine a good possibility, it would be a combination of "dissemble" (meaning to disguise or the opposite of "resemble') and "disassemble" (meaning to take apart--in this case, the expected discourse).  

Paul de Mann suggests that, as a rhetorical feature, irony is basically parabasis; that is, a shift of register in a discourse.  (De Mann's observation is the inspiration for my definition of irony.) The typical example of parabasis is an aside, but the etymological root is the chorus in Greek theatre which would interrupt the actors' speeches with their own comments.

Keeping it simple

If all this seems too much to hold onto, a simple definition of irony would be "The near opposite of what is expected happening or being said." By the way, in this post, I have included the image of an "Irony" wine bottle.  Other than the name the image doesn't have much to do with the post:   I was being ironic.

Also, I've seen Al Morrisette's daughter being criticized because the lyrics of her song "Ironic" aren't ironic.

Actually, the song is about situational irony, and I assume her critics were expecting verbal irony.  How ironic!


Thursday 28 December 2017

What Is English Grammar? More Importantly, What Isn't English Grammar?

The Split Infinitive:  “To really error is human.”

One of my senior colleagues was taken aback when I, a tenured professor of English and Comparative Literature, volunteered to teach a course on Applied Grammar.  Teaching grammar was not at the top of the prestige ladder.  “Are you sure you are ready to start teaching about split infinitives?” he asked me.  I thought he was pulling my leg, but I wasn’t sure, so I photocopied a page from Steve Pinker’s The Language Instinct and slid it under his door.  He never responded.

[. . .] ‘don’t split infinitives,’ ‘don’t end a sentence with a preposition’ can be traced back to these eighteenth-century fads. Of course, forcing modern speakers of English to not split an infinitive because it isn’t done in Latin makes about as much sense as forcing modern residents of England to wear laurels and togas. (The Language Instinct 374)

I would like to emphatically reiterate what Pinker is pointing out.  (Did you notice that I just split the infinitive and ended the sentence with a preposition?) The notion that there is something wrong with  putting a word between the “to” and “reiterate” (as I have done) or ending a sentence with a preposition comes from the ludicrous but long-lasting notion that the English language should follow the rules of Latin grammar. (In Latin you cannot split the infinitive because the infinitive is one word, nor can you end a Latin sentence with a preposition.)

According to Bill Bryson, in The Mother Tongue:  English and How It Got that Way, the source of the notion that we shouldn't end an English sentence with a preposition "was one Robert Lowth, an eighteenth-century clergyman and amateur grammarian whose A Short Introduction to English Grammar, published in 1762, enjoyed a long and distressingly influential life both in his native England and abroad." As Bryson points out, Lowth was never adamant about this "rule," but thought it preferable in "solemn and elevated" writing. In later years, literal-minded academics would insist, on the grounds the Latin root of the word "preposition" was "place before," that a preposition must be placed before something.

Definitions of grammar:  theirs, yours and mine

Surfing the internet for definitions of grammar, I was surprised to discover that there are even more definitions than I had anticipated, and most of them are even less helpful than I suspected. I think it would be useful to talk about grammar according to what most people think the word means.  Experts and pseudo-experts talking about grammar almost invariably include areas of language under the category of “grammar” which make grammar a lot more complicated and difficult to grasp.  A helpful starting point (at least for you and me) would be to eliminate much of what gets included with but really isn’t English grammar.

What isn’t English grammar

If you have ever studied English grammar, chances are you used a textbook with a title like “Grammar and Usage” or “Grammar and Composition.”  What you may not have stopped to realize is that “usage” isn’t “grammar”; “composition” isn’t “grammar.”  You may have seen “grammar” defined as “a study of the language.”  “Linguistics” is “the study of language,” though “grammar” might turn out to be the product of that study.  Perhaps the hardest distinction to make is between “semantics” and “grammar”; that is, between meaning and the rules for putting words together.  If a student writes “A dozen is twenty-one” or “The Earth is the largest body in the Universe,” these statements are wrong and may not even be what the student meant to say, but they are not ungrammatical.  There are no errors in grammar in these sentences.

Grammar in the everyday world

When people usually ask about English grammar it is because they want to know “is this right?” or more pointedly “is this a mistake?”  The kind of grammar they are asking about is more precisely known as “prescriptive grammar”; that is, the language as people are supposed to speak and write it. "Prescriptive grammar," how people should use English, is typically contrasted with “descriptive grammar,” how people actually do use English.  Prescriptive grammar has developed a bad reputation and gone out of fashion because, among other things, it has been held responsible for absurdities like the split-infinitive and no-preposition-at-the-end-of-a-sentence rules. However, if we want to talk about grammar in the sense that most people have in mind when they use the word, then we need to focus on prescriptive grammar.

Errors in grammar

With descriptive grammar, since its intention is simply to describe usage, the concept of an error hardly exists.  To point out a mistake is to invoke prescriptive grammar. If we keep to this precise and strict definition of grammar, what grammar is becomes much clearer.  In fact, there are only four different types of errors in grammar:

  1. Errors of word order (syntax)
  2. Errors of word type (adjectives versus adverbs for example)
  3. Errors of agreement (eg, yesterday requires the past tense of the verb)
  4. Errors of word form (morphology, actually a sub-category of “agreement” and  "type”)
There are many other ways that we can make mistakes in English—spelling, punctuation, vocabulary, vague pronoun reference, faulty parallelism, redundancies, dangling modifiers and so on—but they are not, strictly speaking, errors in grammar.  And speaking strictly is exactly what I am trying to do here. If you want to reverse the direction and speak of English grammar in the affirmative: it is the rules for putting words in the right order, using the correct word type in each position, and ensuring that the parts are in agreement or concordance with each other.

Grammar versus discourse

Grammar is a collection of those rules that apply within a complete sentence.  How the sentences and parts of sentences are connected together is called “discourse.” The rules of discourse are generally more difficult to specify, but they are what you are being taught if you are studying writing or composition or rhetoric.

Spoken versus written English

It is an exaggeration to claim that grammar does not apply to spoken English but, in fact, moving outside of complete sentences it becomes increasingly difficult to apply the rules of syntax, word type and agreement.  People do not speak English in complete sentences.  A lot of spoken language is just grunts and nods. 

Steve Pinker observes:
The Watergate tapes are the most famous and extensive transcripts of real-life speech ever published.  When they were released, Americans were shocked. [ . . . .] one thing that surprised everyone was what ordinary conversation looks like when it is written down verbatim.  Conversation out of context is virtually opaque. [. . . .] even when transcribed perfectly, conversation is hard to interpret.  People often speak in fragments, interrupting themselves in midsentence to reformulate the thought or change the subject. (The Language Instinct 224)

People remain generally unaware of the degree to which written and spoken English are different kinds of discourse. The rules of grammar still apply but only in about the same degree as the rules of the NHL (National Hockey League) apply to street hockey or the rules of golf apply to most of the guys I play with.

The Latin origins for the parts of speech in English grammar.

Thursday 1 January 2015

The Sour Glossary

actually (adverb)

as an actual or existing fact; really. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[False cognate warning: Francophones will sometimes mistakenly use “actually” (or actual) 
when they mean currently, presently, at the moment and up to date.]

allegory [. . .] 

symbolic fictional narrative that conveys a second meaning (or meanings) beyond the explicit, literal details of the story (my definition, adapted from Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature). A simple allegory would be something like a story about Mary Whiteteeth and Johnny Toothbrush and their enemy named Sugar. The story, in this case, is not about these three characters but about the importance of brushing your teeth.
"[. . .] the term allegory can refer to specific method of reading a text."

allusion (noun)

IIn literature, an implied or indirect reference to a person, event, thing or a part of another text. [. . . ] Allusions to biblical
figures and figures from classical mythology are common in Western literature [. . .]. (Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of

Apocrypha (noun)

1.   With a capital letter (Apocrypha) it means a group of 14 books, not considered canonical, included in the Septuagint
and the Vulgate as part of the Old Testament, but usually omitted from Protestant editions of the Bible.
2.   various religious writings of uncertain origin regarded by some as inspired, but rejected by most authorities.
3.  writings, statements, etc., of doubtful authorship or authenticity. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
The opposite would be the canon.
apocryphal  (adjective)
1.   of doubtful authorship or authenticity.
2.   of or pertaining to the Apocrypha, of doubtful sanction; uncanonical.
3.  false; spurious: He told an apocryphal story about the sword, but the truth was later revealed. (Random House 
Unabridged Dictionary)

comedy (noun)

1. a play, movie, etc., of light and humorous character with a happy or cheerful ending; a dramatic work in which the
central motif is the triumph over adverse circumstance, resulting in a successful or happy conclusion.
2. that branch of the drama which concerns itself with this form of composition.
3. the comic element of drama, of literature generally, or of life.
4. any literary composition dealing with a theme suitable for comedy, or employing the methods of comedy.
5. any comic or humorous incident or series of incidents. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)

canon (noun)

5.   a standard; criterion: the canons of taste.
6.   the books of the Bible recognized by any Christian church as genuine and inspired.
7.   any officially recognized set of sacred books.
8.   any comprehensive list of books within a field.
9.   the works of an author that have been accepted as authentic: There are 37 plays in the Shakespeare canon.
 (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
The opposite would be  Apocrypha. The adjective form is "canonical."
Note that in literary studies the word "canon" has sometimes been used to identify those books considered to be part
of "great literature" and therefore worthy of study.

conceit (noun)

1. an excessively favorable opinion of one's own ability, importance, wit, etc.
2. something that is conceived in the mind; a thought; idea: He jotted down the conceits of his idle hours.
3. imagination; fancy.
4. a fancy; whim; fanciful notion.

5. an elaborate, fanciful metaphor, especially of a strained or far-fetched nature.

6. the use of such metaphors as a literary characteristic, esp. in poetry. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
Note: 5 and 6 (above) are the relevant definitions for literary studies.

consummate (verb)

1. to bring to a state of perfection; fulfill.
2. to complete (an arrangement, agreement, or the like) by a pledge or the signing of a contract: The company
consummated its deal to buy a smaller firm.
3. to complete (the union of a marriage) by the first marital sexual intercourse. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)

courtly love

"A modern term for the literary cult of heterosexual love that emerged among the French aristocracy from the late 11th
century onwards, with a profound effect on subsequent Western attitudes to love. [ . . . .] An elaborate code of behaviour
emerged around the tormented male lover's abject obedience to a disdainful, idealized lady, who was usually his social
superior. [. . . .] this form of adoration also imitated both feudal servitude and Christian worship, despite celebrating the
excitements of clandestine adultery (as in stories of Lancelot and Guinevere) rather than the then merely economic
relationship of marriage" (The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms).  A  philosophy of love and a code of lovemaking
which flourished in chivalric times, first in France and later in other countries, especially in England. The exact origins of
the system cannot be traced, but fashions set by the Provençal troubadours and ideas drawn from the
Orient and especially from Ovid were probably the chief sources. The conditions of the feudal society and the
veneration of the Virgin Mary, both of which tended to give a new dignity and veneration to woman,* also affected it.
 [. . . .] Andreas Capellanus late in the twelfth century wrote a treatise in which he summarized prevailing notions of
courtly love through imaginary conversations and through his thirty-one "rules"** (A Handbook to Literature).
*Note that in some interpretations of history, the Catholic Church raised the profile and importance of the Blessed
Virgin in order to counter the growing popularity and influence of courtly love.**In recent times, Ellen Fein and Sherrie
 Sneider wrote a series of popular books with the repeated title of The Rules instructing women on how to behave on
dates and in relationships with men."

coy (adjective)

1. artfully or affectedly shy or reserved; slyly hesitant; coquettish.
2. shy; modest.
3. showing reluctance, especially when insincere or affected, to reveal one's plans or opinions, make a commitment,
or take a stand (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
If we deconstruct (that is, study the history) of the word “coy,” we will discover that it is most often applied to women. In fact,
being coy was for a long time considered part of traditional, typical and expected female behaviour. Being coy was considered
part of the “essence” of being a woman. Therefore, when a woman said “no,” it was understood that she really meant “yes.” The
word “coy” is a good example to demonstrate how sexism can be subtly inscribed in the language. In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet
actually apologizes to Romeo for her failing to be coy, but she tells him, “I’ll prove more true than those that have the cunning to
be strange.” “To be strange” here means the same thing as “to be coy.”

cuckold (noun)

1. the husband of an unfaithful wife.
2. to make a cuckold of (a husband).
[ allusion to the cuckoo's habit of laying its eggs in other birds' nests] (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)

deconstruction (noun)

a philosophical and critical movement, starting in the 1960s and especially applied to the study of literature, that questions all
traditional assumptions about the ability of language to represent reality and emphasizes that a text has no stable reference or
identification because words essentially only refer to other words [. . .] (Random House Unabridged Dictionary).
This term and its verb form, “to deconstruct,” are strongly associated with Jacques Derrida, a French philosopher, and a paper he
delivered in 1966 at Johns Hopkins University entitled “Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences.” When
questioned after the presentation, Derrida defined deconstruction by saying: “Here or there I have used the word déconstruction,
which has nothing to do with destruction. That is to say, it is simply a question of (and this is the necessity of criticism in the
classical sense of the word) being alert to the implications, to the historical sedimentation of the language we use [. . .].” (Davis, Robert
Con ed. Contemporary Literary Criticism 497).
In Against Deconstruction, John M. Ellis pointed out that deconstruction turns out to be principally a movement against essentialism (35).
By deconstructing words, and therefore concepts, we discover that they are constructed over time within a culture and in relation to
other words. The meaning of a word does not come from its reference to an “essence” existing in reality and outside of language.

decorum ( noun)

1. dignified propriety of behavior, speech, dress, etc.
2. the quality or state of being decorous; orderliness; regularity.
3. Usually, decorums. an observance or requirement of polite society.
—Synonyms: politeness, manners, dignity. See etiquette.

dialectic (adjective) Also, dialectical.

1. of, pertaining to, or of the nature of logical argumentation.
2. dialectal.
3. the art or practice of logical discussion as employed in investigating the truth of a theory or opinion.
4. logical argumentation.
5. Often, dialectics.
a. logic or any of its branches.
b. any formal system of reasoning or thought.

dysphemism (noun)

1.   the substitution of a harsh, disparaging, or unpleasant expression for a more neutral one.
2.   an expression so substituted. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
The antonym (word meaning the opposite) is euphemism. Some examples of common dysphemisms are: "knocked up" (for pregnant),
 "to fuck" (for " to have sexual intercourse"), "on the rag" (for "menstruating"), " pissed off" (for " angry").

dystopia (noun)

a modern term invented as the opposite of utopia, and applied to any alarmingly unpleasant imaginary world, usually of the projected future. The term is also applied to fictional works depicting such worlds. A significant form of science fiction and of modern satire,
dystopian writing is exemplified in H.G. Wells's The Time Machine (1895) and George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). (Concise 
Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms)

earnest (adjective)

1. serious in intention, purpose, or effort; sincerely zealous: an earnest worker.
2. showing depth and sincerity of feeling: earnest words; an earnest entreaty.
3. seriously important; demanding or receiving serious attention.
Synonyms: fervent, intent, purposeful, determined, industrious, ambitious. EARNEST, RESOLUTE, SERIOUS, SINCERE imply having
qualities of depth and firmness. EARNEST implies having a purpose and being steadily and soberly eager in pursuing it: an earnest
student. RESOLUTE adds a quality of determination: resolute in defending the right. SERIOUS implies having depth and a soberness
 of attitude that contrasts with gaiety and frivolity; it may include the qualities of both earnestness and resolution: serious and thoughtful.
 SINCERE suggests genuineness, trustworthiness, and absence of superficiality: a sincere interest in music. (Random House 
Unabridged Dictionary)

essay (noun)

a short written composition in prose that discusses a subject or proposes an argument without claiming to be a complete or thorough
exposition. A minor literary form, the essay is more relaxed than the formal academic dissertation. The term ('trying out') was coined by
the French writer Michel de Montaigne in the tile of his Essais (1580), the first modern example of the form. Francis Bacon's Essays
(1597) began the tradition of essays in English. (Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms)


The idea that words get their meanings from one-to-one correspondence with the “essences” of objects in the world.  

etiquette (noun)

1. conventional requirements as to social behavior; proprieties of conduct as established in any class or community or for any occasion.
2. a prescribed or accepted code of usage in matters of ceremony, as at a court or in official or other formal observances.
3. the code of ethical behavior regarding professional practice or action among the members of a profession in their dealings with each
other: medical etiquette.
[ —Synonyms:  DECORUMPROPRIETY imply observance of the formal requirements governing behavior in polite society.
ETIQUETTE refers to conventional forms and usages: the rules of etiquette. DECORUM suggests dignity and a sense of what is
becoming or appropriate for a person of good breeding: a fine sense of decorum. PROPRIETY (usually plural) implies established conventions of morals and good taste: She never fails to observe the proprieties.

ethnocentrism (noun)

1. the belief in the inherent superiority of one's own ethnic group or culture.
2. a tendency to view alien groups or cultures from the perspective of one's own.
(Random House Unabridged Dictionary)

etymology (noun)
1. the derivation of a word.
2. an account of the history of a particular word or element of a word.
3. the study of historical linguistic change, esp. as manifested in individual words
(Random House Unabridged Dictionary)

euphemism (noun)

1.   the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt.
2.   the expression so substituted: "To pass away'" is a euphemism for "to die." (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
The antonym (word meaning the opposite) is dysphemism. Some examples of euphemisms are: "being in a family way" (for "pregnant")
"having her lady's time" (for menstruating), "making love" or "being intimate" (for "having sexual intercourse"), "powder room" (for "toilet")

fate (noun)

1. something that unavoidably befalls a person; fortune; lot: It is always his fate to be left behind.
2. the universal principle or ultimate agency by which the order of things is presumably prescribed; the decreed cause of events; time:
Fate decreed that they would never meet again.
3. that which is inevitably predetermined; destiny: Death is our ineluctable fate.
4. a prophetic declaration of what must be: The oracle pronounced their fate.
5. death, destruction, or ruin.
6. the Fates, in Classical Mythology, three goddesses of destiny, known to the Greeks as the Moerae and to the Romans as the Parcae.
(Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
NB This word is important and often comes up in discussions of tragedy.  Be careful not to confuse the word “fate” (destiny) with “faith” (religious or
spiritual belief). Fate is often an important theme in tragedy. We see this theme in Oedipus, the King and Romeo and 
Juliet. Some readers might also see the theme of fate in Streetcar Named Desire.

genre (noun)

 A type or category of literature or film marked by certain shared features or conventions. The three broadest categories of genre include

poetry, drama, and fiction. These general genres are often subdivided into more specific genres and subgenres. For instance, precise examples of genres might include murder mysteries, westerns, sonnets, lyric poetry, epics, tragedies, etc. Bookstores, libraries, and services like Redbox or Netflix may label and subdivide their books or films into genres for the convenience of shoppers seeking a specific category of literature.  (Literary Terms and Definitions at

I have typically listed the literary genres as poetry, drama and prose, with prose divided in fiction and non-fiction, fiction into novels and

short stories.  As you can see the number of genres can quickly expand and become a bit chaotic.  I have found it useful to offer this pie
chart to illustrate the differences and connections among tragedy, comedy, satire and melodrama--the most typical genres of drama and

Comedy and tragedy are in direct opposition to each other in terms of their most typical features; nonetheless, there is a genre called 
tragicomedy which incorporates features of both.  Satire and melodrama are directly opposed to each other, but G.B. Shaw labelled his 
play The Devil's Disciple "a melodrama," while intending it to be a satire.  All variations are possible.  However, the line between 
side-by-side genres is sometimes blurry and often debated when it comes time to categorize a specific literary work. For example, 
historically some critics have claimed that the play, Streetcar Named Desire isn't a tragedy, but that it is a melodrama.  Both genres 
share intense emotions as a potential feature.  A melodrama shares features of both tragedy and comedy.  Some comedies seem close 
to melodrama, in particular, if they are love stories.  We typically categorize these plays, films and stories as romantic comedies.  Some 
satires lean strongly toward comedy, like the short stories and novels of Kurt Vonnegut.  Some satires lean toward tragedy like Orwell's 
1984 and Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.

The pie chart is useful in clarifying some of what is going on in the film adaptations of literary works; i.e. how much a work is being 

transformed and effects of specific changes.  For example, Kurt Vonnegut's short story "Who am this time?" is a comic satire, but is 
transformed into a romantic comedy in the TV movie of the same name.  By changing the ending of the play in the film version, Elia 
Kazen transformed Streetcar Named Desire from a tragedy with satiric leanings into a melodrama.  Film adaptation of A Handmaid's 
Tale transformed the story into a melodrama, and so on.

grammar (noun)

1. the study of the way the sentences of a language are constructed; morphology and syntax.
2. these features or constructions themselves: English grammar.
3. an account of these features; a set of rules accounting for these constructions: a grammar of English.
4. Generative Grammar. a device, as a body of rules, whose output is all of the sentences that are permissible in a given language,
while excluding all those that are not permissible.
5. See prescriptive grammar.
6. knowledge or usage of the preferred or prescribed forms in speaking or writing: She said his grammar was terrible.
7. the elements of any science, art, or subject.
8. a book treating such elements. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)

haste (noun)

1. swiftness of motion; speed; celerity: He performed his task with great haste. They felt the need for haste.
2. urgent need of quick action; a hurry or rush: to be in haste to get ahead in the world.
3. unnecessarily quick action; thoughtless, rash, or undue speed: Haste makes waste. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
Adjective form is "hasty." Traditional expression "to make haste" means "to hurry" or "to rush."

Hegelian dialectic (noun)

an interpretive method, originally used to relate specific entities or events to the absolute idea, in which some assertible proposition
(thesis) is necessarily opposed by an equally assertible and apparently contradictory proposition (antithesis), the mutual contradiction
being reconciled on a higher level of truth by a third proposition (synthesis).

hegemony (noun)

"the OED defines that which is 'hegemonic' as 'the ruling part, the master-principle'. Often used to refer to power which is so dominant
that it appears unquestionable, even natural" ("Glossary." Allen, Graham. Intertextuality).

hermeneutics (noun)

The science of interpretation.

heterosexual ( adjective)

1. of, pertaining to, or exhibiting heterosexuality.
2. Biol. pertaining to the opposite sex or to both sexes.
3. a heterosexual person.
heterosexuality (noun)
sexual feeling or behavior directed toward a person or persons of the opposite sex.

hyperbole (noun)

A figure of speech that is an intentional exaggeration for emphasis or comic effect. (Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature)

hypocrisy (noun)

1. a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess.
2. a pretense of having some desirable or publicly approved attitude.
hypocrite (noun)
1. a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, esp. a
person whose actions belie stated beliefs.
2. a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, esp. one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her
public statements.
—hypocritical (adjective)
—hypocritically (adverb)
—Synonyms: deceiver, dissembler, pretender, pharisee.

ideology (noun)

1.the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group.
2. such a body of doctrine, myth, etc., with reference to some political and social plan, as that of fascism, along with the devices for
putting it into operation.
3. in philosophy, the study of the nature and origin of ideas.a system that derives ideas exclusively from sensation.
4. theorizing of a visionary or impractical nature. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
in his book Ideology: An Introduction, Terry Eagleton describes ideology as follows: " A dominant power may legitimate itself by
promoting beliefs and values congenial to it; naturalizing and universalizing such beliefs so as to render them self-evident and
apparently inevitable; denigrating ideas which might challenge it; excluding rival forms of thought, perhaps by some unspoken but
systematic logic; and obscuring social reality in ways convenient to itself. Such `mystification', as it is commonly known, frequently
takes the form of masking or suppressing social conflicts, from which arises the conception of ideology as an imaginary resolution of
real contradictions" (5-6).

intertextuality (noun)

a term coined by Julia Kristeva to designate the various relationships that a given text may have with other texts. These intertextual relationships include anagram, allusion, adaptation, translation, parody, pastiche, imitation and other kinds of transformation. The literary theories of structuralism and post-structuralism, texts are seen to refer to other texts (or to themselves as texts) rather than to external reality. The term intertext has been used variously for a text drawing on other texts, for a text thus drawn upon, and for the
relationship between both. (Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms)

In Intertextuality, Graham Allen describes "intertextuality" in the opening of the book this way:

The idea that when we read a work of literature we are seeking to find a meaning which lies inside that work seems completely commonsensical. Literary texts possess meaning; readers extract that meaning from them. We call the process of extracting meaning from texts reading or interpretation. Despite their apparent obviousness, such ideas have been radically challenged in contemporary literary and cultural theory. Works of literature, after all, are built from systems, codes and traditions established by previous works of
literature. The systems, codes and traditions of other art forms and of culture in general are also crucial to the meaning of a work of literature. Texts, whether they be literary or non-literary, are viewed by modern theorists as lacking in any kind of independent meaning. They are what theorists now call intertextual. The act of reading, theorists claim, plunges us into a network of textual relations. To
interpret a text, to discover its meaning or meanings, is to trace those relations. Reading thus becomes a process of moving between texts. Meaning becomes something which exists between a text and all other texts to which it refers and relates, moving out from the independent text into a network of textual relations. The text becomes the intertext. (1)

irony (noun)

The three traditional types of irony are:
i) verbal irony, saying something but you mean something else, sometimes the opposite (antiphrasis); this is the dictionary definition
(i.e., opposite meaning) but this is rare in real life and literature.  When people think of "irony," what often comes to mind is "sarcasm,"
which is a low form of verbal irony.
ii) situational irony; when the opposite of what we expect to happen happens; also called the irony of fate; this strongly applies to
Oedipus, the King
iii) dramatic irony; so-called because it often occurs in plays (theatre, film and TV); a situation becomes amusing because we know
something that one or more of the characters doesn’t; example, John starts talking to his wife Mary about his “good friend” Steven
while Steven is hiding in the bedroom closet

Linda Hutcheon, in Irony's Edge, describes what she calls "semantic irony" as always having two meanings and those meanings rub
against each other. What is the final meaning of an ironic statement? Consider the rabbit/duck image:

 As with the duck/rabbit image,  irony “happens” when we are faced with two or more meanings and they conflict with each other.
We have to hold on to both (or all) the meanings.

The problem with these various descriptions and types of irony (verbal, situational, dramatic, semantic) is that they all seem so
different from one another.  In my own thinking, Paul de Man's description of irony as an extended form of "parabasis" (179) is useful
because it is more encompassing and comprehensive than anything else I have encountered. "Parabasis," in de Man's words, "is the
interruption of a discourse by a shift in rhetorical register" (178).

I see the shift of register (of say from a serious tone to comic or vice versa, or maybe religious register to scientific, or formal to
vernacular) as the key to signaling verbal irony. The idea of "the interruption of a discourse" goes a long way in describing all forms
of irony.  "Discourse" in a basic sense is just the way sentences are held or glued together with expression like "on the other hand,"
 "however," "additionally" and "in conclusion."  A discourse can be something broader and vaguer like the theme of a composition or
 speech which we can demonstrate by noting repeated words, synonyms or concepts. Putting something into a speech that contracts
or seems to mock the seriousness of your own theme can be called "ironic."  A "narrative discourse" is how a story is held together,
usually through a build-up of expectations based on the formulas that stories often follow or thematic elements and the ethos of the
characters.  Irony in this case is a particular twist in the story that contradicts expectation in a particularly sharp, incisive, poetic and
surprising way; i.e, "situational irony."  To reach my conclusion I have to invent another form of discourse, which I would have to call
"mental discourse" which is a mental construct of our expectations which erases the absolute distinction between a discourse and a
situation.  Imagine you are looking out the window on a cold, rainy, sleet-filled day and a friend sidles up beside you and says
"Beautiful weather."  You both know that he is being ironic because his comment contradicts, is incongruous in, this situation.  I would
describe this situation as a "mental discourse" of expectations which his comment "interrupts."  The same argument can be applied to
dramatic irony.

You might argue that the "interruption of a discourse" could be something random rather than ironic.  I have noticed that many
instances of what I would call "ironic" and consequently comic or dramatic, my son and his cohort call "random."   The ironic and
the random are clearly on the same axis.  

To return to the pedagogical issue discussed in my posting on irony (Do No Harm Part II:  Avoid Irony), keep in mind, that if you
employ irony in your teaching or lecturing, you are "interrupting" your own discourse.

literal (adjective)

1. in accordance with, involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of the word or words; not figurative or metaphorical: the
literal meaning of a word.
2. following the words of the original very closely and exactly: a literal translation of Goethe.
3. true to fact; not exaggerated; actual or factual: a literal description of conditions.
4. being actually such, without exaggeration or inaccuracy: the literal extermination of a city.
5. (of persons) tending to construe words in the strict sense or in an unimaginative way; matter-of-fact; prosaic. (Random House
Unabridged Dictionary)

literary (adjective)

1. pertaining to or of the nature of books and writings, especially those classed as literature: literary history.
2. pertaining to authorship: literary style.
3. versed in or acquainted with literature; well-read. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)

love (noun)

1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
3. sexual passion or desire.
4. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.
5. (used in direct address as a term of endearment, affection, or the like): Would you like to see a movie, love?
6. a love affair; an intensely amorous incident; amour.
7. sexual intercourse; copulation.
8. (cap.) a personification of sexual affection, as Eros or Cupid.
9. affectionate concern for the well-being of others: the love of one's neighbor.
10. strong predilection, enthusiasm, or liking for anything: her love of books.
11. the object or thing so liked: The theater was her great love.
12. the benevolent affection of God for His creatures, or the reverent affection due from them to God.
13. Chiefly Tennis. a score of zero; nothing.
14. a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter L.
15. for love,
a. out of affection or liking; for pleasure.
b. without compensation; gratuitously: He took care of the poor for love.
16. for the love of, in consideration of; for the sake of: For the love of mercy, stop that noise.
17. in love, infused with or feeling deep affection or passion: a youth always in love.
18. in love with, feeling deep affection or passion for (a person, idea, occupation, etc.); enamored of: in love with the girl next door;
 in love with one's work.
19. make love,
a. to embrace and kiss as lovers.
b. to engage in sexual activity.
20. no love lost, dislike; animosity: There was no love lost between the two brothers.
21. to have love or affection for: All her pupils love her.
22. to have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for (another person).
23. to have a strong liking for; take great pleasure in: to love music.
24. to need or require; benefit greatly from: Plants love sunlight.
25. to embrace and kiss (someone), as a lover.
26. to have sexual intercourse with.
27. to have love or affection for another person; be in love.
28. love up, to hug and cuddle: She loves him up every chance she gets.
—Syn. 1. tenderness, fondness, predilection, warmth, passion, adoration. 1, 2. LOVE, AFFECTION, DEVOTION all mean a deep
and enduring emotional regard, usually for another person. LOVE may apply to various kinds of regard: the charity of the Creator,
reverent adoration toward God or toward a person, the relation of parent and child, the regard of friends for each other, romantic
feelings for another person, etc. AFFECTION is a fondness for others that is enduring and tender, but calm. DEVOTION is an i
ntense love and steadfast, enduring loyalty to a person; it may also imply consecration to a cause. 2. liking, inclination, regard,
 friendliness. 21. like. 22. adore, adulate, worship.
—Ant. 1, 2. hatred, dislike. 21, 22. detest, hate. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)

maidenhead (noun)

1. the hymen.
2. maidenhood; virginity.

metaphor (noun)

1. a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a
resemblance, as in "A mighty fortress is our God.'
2. something used, or regarded as being used, to represent something else; emblem; symbol (Random House Unabridged Dictionary).

metaphysical (adjective)

1.pertaining to or of the nature of metaphysics.
2. In philosophy: concerned with abstract thought or subjects, as existence, causality, or truth. Concerned with first principles and
ultimate grounds, as being, time, or substance.
3. highly abstract, subtle, or abstruse.
4. designating or pertaining to the poetry of an early group of 17th-century English poets, notably John Donne, whose characteristic
style is highly intellectual and philosophical and features intensive use of ingenious conceits and turns of wit

metonym (noun)

a figure of speech that consists of the use of the name of one object or concept for that of another to which it is related, or of which it is
a part, as "scepter' for "sovereignty,' or "the bottle' for "strong drink,' or "count heads (or noses)' for "count people." (Random House
Unabridged Dictionary)
See Wikipedia for a discussion of the concept of metonymy, as opposed to metaphor, and its importance in cognition and linguistics.

nature (noun)

Few terms are so important to the student of literature--and so difficult--as this one. [. . . .] Both neoclassicists and romanticists would
 "follow Nature"; but the former drew from the term ideas of order, regularity, and universality, both in "external" nature and in human
nature, while the latter found in nature the justification for their enthusiasm for irregularity ('wildness") in external nature and for
individualism in human nature. Other contradictory senses may be noted: the term nature might mean, on the one hand, human 
nature (typical human behavior), or, on the other hand, whatever is antithetical to human nature and human works--ahs has not been
 "spoiled" by human beings. (A Handbook to Literature)

novel (noun)

a prose narrative fiction of considerable length and complexity

oxymoron (noun)

a figure of speech which seems incongruous or contradictory, or has a seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in "cruel kindness' or "to
make haste slowly." (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
In the poem "To His Coy Mistress," "vegetable love" is an example of an oxymoron. In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet tells Romeo that
"parting is such sweet sorrow." "Sweet sorrow" has become the most famous oxymoron in English literature. (Random House 
Unabridged Dictionary)

pantheism (noun)

A philosophic-religious attitude which finds the spirit of God manifest in all things and which holds that whereas all things speak the
glory of God it is equally true that the glory of God is made up of all things. Finite objects are at once both God and the manifestation
of God. The term is impossible to define exactly since it is so personal a conviction as to be differently interpreted by different
philosophers but for its literary significance, it is clearly enough described as an ardent faith in NATURE as both the revelation of
deity and deity itself. (A Handbook to Literature)

personification (noun)

1. the attribution of a personal nature or character to inanimate objects or abstract notions, esp. as a rhetorical figure.
2. the representation of a thing or abstraction in the form of a person, as in art.
3. the person or thing embodying a quality or the like; an embodiment or incarnation: He is the personification of tact.
4. an imaginary person or creature conceived or figured to represent a thing or abstraction. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)

play (noun)

1. a dramatic composition or piece; drama.
2. a dramatic performance, as on the stage. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)

poem (noun)

a composition in verse

postmodernism (noun)

term used to designate a multitude of trends in the arts, philosophy, religion, technology, and many other areas that come after and
deviate from the many 20th-century movements that constituted modernism. [. . .. ] Widely debated with regard to its meaning and
implications, postmodernism has also been said to relate to the culture of capitalism as it has developed since the 1960s. In general,
the postmodern view is cool, ironic, and accepting of the fragmentation of contemporary existence. It tends to concentrate on surfaces
rather than depths, to blur the distinctions between high and low culture, and as a whole to challenge a wide variety of traditional
cultural values. (The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition)

poststructuralism (noun)

Any of various theories or methods of analysis, including deconstruction and some psychoanalytic theories, that deny the validity of
structuralism's method of binary opposition and maintain that meanings and intellectual categories are shifting and unstable. (The 
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.)

promiscuity (noun)

1. the state of being promiscuous.
2. promiscuous sexual behavior.
3. an indiscriminate mixture.
promiscuous (adjective)
1. characterized by or involving indiscriminate mingling or association, esp. having sexual relations with a number of partners on a
casual basis.
2. consisting of parts, elements, or individuals of different kinds brought together without order.
3. indiscriminate; without discrimination.
4. casual; irregular; haphazard.
—Syn. 1. unchaste. 2. hodgepodge, confused, mixed, jumbled. See miscellaneous. 3. careless.
—Ant. 1, 2. pure. 3. selective.

propriety (noun)

1. conformity to established standards of good or proper behavior or manners.
2. appropriateness to the purpose or circumstances; suitability.
3. rightness or justness.
4. the proprieties, the conventional standards of proper behavior; manners: to observe the proprieties.
—Synonyms: decency, modesty. See etiquette. 2. aptness, fitness, seemliness. 3. correctness.

psychoanalysis ( noun)

1. a systematic structure of theories concerning the relation of conscious and unconscious psychological processes.
2. a technical procedure for investigating unconscious mental processes and for treating psychoneuroses. (Random House 
Unabridged Dictionary)

pun (noun)

1. the humorous use of a word or phrase so as to emphasize or suggest its different meanings or applications, or the use of words
that are alike or nearly alike in sound but different in meaning; a play on words.
2. the word or phrase used in this way.
3. to make puns. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
For examples and further discussion see:

Puritan (noun)

1. a member of a group of Protestants that arose in the 16th century within the Church of England, demanding the simplifications
of doctrine and worship, and greater strictness in religious discipline: during part of the 17th century the Puritans became a powerful
political party.
2. a person who is strict in moral or religious matters, often excessively so. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
Note: When referring to a member of this religious group, "Puritan" is capitalized. When referring to someone who is "strict in moral
or religious matters" but not a member of the religious group, "puritan" is in lower case. The adjective form is "puritanical."

quenchen (verb)

Middle English verb meaning "quench, extinguish, put an end to." ("Glossary." The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. 2nd Edtion, edited
by F.N. Robinson. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1957.)

queynte (noun)

"pudendum" [that is, female genitalia, vulva, vagina] ("Glossary." The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. 2nd Edtion, edited by F.N. Robinson.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1957.)
Note: the word is derived from the verb "quenchen."
queynte (adjective)
"strange, curious, curiously contrived; elaborate, ornamented; neat; artful, sly; graceful; 'make it queynte,' be offish or disdainful, make
it strange or difficult; also show pleasure or satisfaction. ("Glossary." The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. 2nd Edtion, edited by F.N.
Robinson. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1957.)
Note we can see both the noun and adjective forms of the Middle English word "queynte" in the description of Nicolas's first attempt
to make a pass at Alyson in "The Miller's Tale":

Whil that hir housbonde was at Oseneye,

As clerkes ben ful subtile and ful queynte
And privelyy he caught hire by the queynte,
And seyde, "Ywis, but if ich have my wille,
For deerne love of thee, lemman, I spille." (3274-3278)

raisonneur (noun)

A character in a drama who is the level-headed, calm personification of reason and logical action. (A Handbook to Literature)

restoration (noun)

1. the act of restoring; renewal, revival, or reestablishment.
2. the state or fact of being restored.
3. a return of something to a former, original, normal, or unimpaired condition.
4. restitution of something taken away or lost.
5. something that is restored, as by renovating.
6. a reconstruction or reproduction of an ancient building, extinct animal, or the like, showing it in its original state.
7. a putting back into a former position, dignity, etc.
8. Dentistry.
a. the work, process, or result of replacing or restoring teeth or parts of teeth.
b. something that restores or replaces teeth or parts of teeth, as a filling, crown, or denture.

9. the Restoration,

a. the re-establishment of the monarchy in England with the return of Charles II in 1660.

b. the period of the reign of Charles II (1660–85), sometimes extended to include the reign of James II (1685–88).
10. (cap) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of the Restoration: Restoration manners.

Restoration comedy

English comedy of the period of the Restoration, stressing manners and social satire.

rhetoric (noun)

1. (in writing or speech) the undue use of exaggeration or display; bombast.
2. the art or science of all specialized literary uses of language in prose or verse, including the figures of speech.
3. the study of the effective use of language.
4. the ability to use language effectively.
5. the art of prose in general as opposed to verse.
6. the art of making persuasive speeches; oratory.
7. (in classical oratory) the art of influencing the thought and conduct of an audience.
(Random House Unabridged Dictionary)

satire (noun)

"a text which ridicules [mocks] or ironically comments on socially recognizable tendencies [and the tendencies of a society] or the
style or form of another text or author" ("Glossary." Allen, Graham. Intertextuality).

scabbard (noun)

The holster or case in which the blade of a sword or dagger is kept; a sheath. The English word "vagina" (1682) and the French word
"vagin" derive from the Latin "vagin" or "vagino" meaning scabbord or sheath. Pictures of scabbards and swords.

semiotics, or semiolgogy

"The systematic study of signs, or, more precisely, of the production of meanings from sign-systems, linguistic or non-linguistic"
(Baldick, Chris. Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms). "Sign-systems can be any recognizable field of human communication.
Clothing might signify withing the cultural fashion system, for example. semiotics and semiology as developed in structuralism and
poststructuralism can treat anything emanating from a signifying system as a text to be read" (Allen, Graham. Intertextuality. "Glossary.").

short story (noun)

a piece of prose fiction, usually under 10,000 words. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)

shrift (noun)

1. the imposition of penance by a priest on a penitent after confession.
2. absolution or remission of sins granted after confession and penance.
3. confession to a priest. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)

simile (noun)

a figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared, as in "she is like a rose." (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)

structuralism (noun)

1.   any theory that embodies structural principles.

2.   See structural anthropology.

3. See structural linguistics." a movement which stems particularly from Saussure's vision of semiology, the study of all the

sign-systems operative in culture. Structuralism took texts, from works of literature to aspects of everyday communication, and
accounted for them in terms of the system from which they were produced" ("Glossary." Allen, Graham. Intertextuality. )
structural anthropology
a school of anthropology founded by Claude Lévi-Strauss and based loosely on the principles of structural linguistics
structural linguistics
1.   approach to language study in which a language is analyzed as an independent network of formal systems, each of which is
composed of elements that are defined in terms of their contrasts with other elements in the system. (Random House Unabridged

tragedy (noun)

1. a dramatic composition, often in verse, dealing with a serious or somber theme, typically that of a great person destined through a
 flaw of character or conflict with some overpowering force, as fate or society, to downfall or destruction.
2. the branch of the drama that is concerned with this form of composition.
3. the art and theory of writing and producing tragedies.
4. any literary composition, as a novel, dealing with a somber theme carried to a tragic conclusion.
5. the tragic element of drama, of literature generally, or of life.
6. a lamentable, dreadful, or fatal event or affair; calamity; disaster: the tragedy of war.
[[ goat + song; reason for name variously explained] (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)

transtextuality (noun)

" . . . all that sets the text in a relationship, whether obvious or concealed, with other texts" (Genette, Gérard. Palimpsests: Literature 
in the Second Degree). Genette's term "transtextuality" is his particular variation on the idea most other critics call intertextuality. He
reduces the term intertextuality to "a relationship of copresence between two texts or among several texts . . . the actual presence
of one text within another." ("Glossary." Allen, Graham. Intertextuality. )
Genette categories the various forms of transtextuality; that is, all the possible relations between two texts, as follows:
i) intertextuality: quotation, allusion and plagiarism
ii) paratextuality: titles, covers, epigraphs, introductions
iii) metatextual: a critical relationship
iv) architextuality: genre suggested by title
v) hypertextuality: hypertext to hypotext; film adaptations are often described as "hypertexts" with the literary upon which the film is
based called a "hypotext"

Utopia [or utopia] (noun)

1. an imaginary island described in Sir Thomas More's Utopia (1516) as enjoying perfection in law, politics, etc.
2. an ideal place or state.
3. any visionary system of political or social perfection. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[literally, "utopia" = no where]

woo (verb)

to seek the favor [favour], affection, or love of, especially with a view to marriage.
Synonyms: court, pursue, chase.
Origin: before 1050; Middle English "wowe," Old English "wōgian"  ( Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.)

As discussed in my earlier posting, "How to Make Love to a Logophile," until the 1920s the expression "to make love" meant "to court"
or "to woo."  "Woo" is used a half dozen times in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.  My favourite instance occurs when Juliet realizes
that she has not followed the proper feminine behaviour according to the rules of courtly love and tells Romeo:
"[. . .]if thou think'st I am too quickly won,
I'll frown and be perverse an say thee nay,
So thou wilt woo; [. . .]"

What Does Article Five of the North Atlantic Treaty Actually Say?

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