The Word of the Week, from Managing Editor Jaynell Graham.
What's the Word?
Paraprosdokian, pronounced "para-prozz-doke-i-en"
An email, titled "Paraprosdokians," has been making the rounds for the past couple of months.
It usually includes a statement such as, "I had never heard of this word, so I had to look up the definition" orﾠ "In the not too unlikely probability that you don't know the meaning of paraprosdokian..."
It turns out to be a most interesting word. But it does not roll, smoothly off the tongue.
Paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the last part of a sentence or phrase has an unexpected twist that causes the reader or hearer to re-interpret the first part.ﾠ It is most often used by comedians for a humorous or dramatic effect.
"Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine."
Paraprosdokian reportedely comes from the Greek words para (beyond) and prosdokian (expectation).
Some argue that the word is neither Greek nor Latin, but rather a late 20th century neologism, or "newly coined word, that may be in the process of entering common use, but has not yet been accepted into mainstream language."
To date, the word does not appear in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
The idiom or proverb, "Where there's a will, there's a way," is so familiar in meaning that it is often shortened to "where there's a will."
As a paraprosdokian it becomes "Where there's a will - I want to be in it."
In today's busy society, a listener in a conversation often tries to think ahead and anticipate what his conversational partner is going to say. Those listeners are the ones that are most easily set up and caught off guard by the sharp left-turn of a paraprosdokian.
In Leonard LaPointe's article, "Figaro and Paraprosdokian," he explains that a clich�, or familiar phrase, usually begins a sentence or "sets the bait" for the surprise of the paraprosdokian.
"Groucho Marx offers a great example...," LaPointe writes.ﾠ "ﾑI've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it.'
As a phrase, it's nothing new or exciting; it's both overused and familiar.ﾠ However, Groucho Marx follows up with the humorous caveat, ﾑbut this wasn't it.' While we're set up to expect an explanation of his wonderful evening, we're left with the exact opposite. His dry, satirical tone adds a good dash of humor to the dialogue."
But comedians aren't the only ones to use paraprosdokians.
The late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill added his fair share to the list of classics.
"If you are going through hell, keep going."
And one that packs a sting, "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else."
Although meant to be humorous and sometimes facetious, a thinly veiled bit of truth can often be found in paraprosdokians.
"Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?"
"Behind every successful man is his woman.ﾠ Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman."
"She looks as though she's been poured into her clothes, and forgot to say ﾑwhen."' Sir P. G. Wodehouse
"I thought I wanted a career.ﾠ Turns out, I just wanted paychecks."
"Paraprosdokian," an entertaining form of mental gymnastics - stretching the imagination, without jumping to conclusions.
What's the Word?
1. a belief in work as a moral good.
Hard work spotlights the character of people:ﾠ some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all.ﾠ ~Sam Ewing
People find pleasure in many venues. Some like vacations, others take garden tours.
I like to see people enjoying their work and am always impressed by those who find their greatest reward, not in a paycheck, but in a job well done.
External pleasures are fleeting, but the development of things internal brings lasting satisfaction.
A good work ethic is much like a good sense of humor.
You either have it or you don't. It's in the genes.
"You can't plough a field by turning it over in your mind."
No one knew that better than Regina Sue Underwood Sharp Dumire.
This past week, the county lost Regina at the age of 102.ﾠ
She was an icon of the strong work ethic.
From her early days, Regina learned the value and necessity of hard work.
"My daddy was a farmer," she said in an interview on her 100th birthday. "I worked right beside him."
And her advice for the younger generations?
"Stay out of the whiskey store, help other people and always have work to do, and you'll be bound for heaven," she said. "That's the way we lived."
Placing a positive moral value on doing a good job is a relatively recent development.ﾠ Work, for much of history, has been hard and degrading.
But as Ann Landers said, "No one ever drowned in their own sweat."
After the dawn of creation, man was placed in the Garden of Eden and his only chore, his only joy, was to take care of it.
Judeo-Christian beliefs pretty much state that what was an ideal "work flow" was blown out of the water when sin entered the world.ﾠ From then on, we read, "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground..."
European hierarchy allowed the wealthy to be free of hard work and allowed them to live a life of leisure.
But the problem with doing nothing is that you never know when you're finished.
One need only go to Proverbs 6:10-11 to see the consequences of a life of leisure that are quite relevant to today's society.
"A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come on you like a thiefﾠand scarcity like an armed man."
When the early settlers came to America, they referred to it as a "wilderness," much like the wilderness of Old Testament times.
But they believed the moral life was one of hard work and determination, and they approached the task of establishing their new world as an opportunity to prove their own moral value.
Regina had a "mini-wilderness" of her own.
By modern standards she was not a member of the workforce.ﾠ But she certainly raised the bar as a "stay-at-home" mother.
The hard work from her childhood prepared her for her married life wherein she and her husband, Dolpha Sharp, raised a family of eight children, Hubert, Lewis, Lowell, Dharl, Tom, Robert, Louise and Luna Bell.
After helping to construct, by hand, the first home in the Brownsburg area, Regina and neighbor Bill Alexander cleared nine acres of timber with a cross cut saw.
Not waiting for the Soil Conservation to arrive to push up the stumps with their bulldozer, Regina burned them.
A firm believer in "waste not, want not," Regina made clothes for all of her family using whatever was available.
She kept 55 gallon drums of old clothes to be recycled into quilts.
Most of their food was raised on the farm but on Friday evenings, Regina and her children would walk to town to get the groceries that could not be raised there.
Regina worked hard all of her life, and her family will tell you that they never entered her home that they did not hear her singing and they never left there without being fed.
Her door was open to everyone.
Taking a page from Regina's book it is not surprising to find that when women entered the workforce during and after World War II, there were noticeable differences in their attitudes as opposed to those of men.
Men tended to be more concerned with earning a good living, having freedom from close supervision, gaining leadership roles and having positions that enhanced their social status
Women wanted jobs that allowed them to help others, gave them a chance to be creative and provided an opportunity to work with people rather than things.
Women were more interested in personal benefits such as enjoyment, pride, fulfillment and personal challenge.
From Lee Braude's "Work and Workers," A Sociological Analysis, we learn that parents who demonstrate a strong work ethic tend to impart a strong work ethic to their children.
Regina was living proof of that research.
What's the Word?
1. One who lives near or next to another
2. A person, place or thing adjacent to or located near another
3. A fellow human
There's a rip-snortin' gospel tune, the chorus of which goes, "Oh, you don't love God, if you don't love your neighbor, if you gossip about him, if you never have mercy, if he gets into trouble, and you don't try to help him, then you don't love your neighbor, and you don't love God."
Those are pretty harsh words.
Thanks to automatic garage door openers and busy schedules, people in today's society can live their entire lives in aﾠ "neighborhood," but completely separated from their neighbors, with their only contact being that of barking dogs or noisy children.
In Max Lucado's book, "Outlive Your Life," he writes that the loss of "neighborhoods" leads to loneliness and leaves people hungry for hospitality.
From a biblical standpoint, a neighbor can be anyone, anywhere, and may even be an enemy. Instructions for being a good neighbor can be found in Romans 13: 8-10:
"Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.ﾠ For the commandments, ﾑYou shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, you shall not covet...are all summed up in this saying, ﾑYou shall love your neighbor as yourself."'
Excavation by archaeologists of some of the earliest cities around the world has produced evidence of the presence of social neighborhoods.
If you are fortunate enough to live in a close-knit or social neighborhood, studies show that you will benefit from a lower crime rate, a better outcome for your children and improved physical and mental health.ﾠ In addition, "good neightbors" rarely suffer from low self-esteem.
The social support of a friendly neighborhood can also help buffer you against the storms of adversity.
Neighborhoods are considered communities within a larger city or town; social communities with considerable face-to-face interaction among the "neighbors," where families share common values and have an interest in the social and moral landscape in which they live and raise their children.
All of that is true and very flowery, but I lean more toward a quote by Elbert Hubbard.
"Your neighbor is the man who needs you."
In a rural area, our neighbors are often descendants of the same families who were neighbors to our ancestors.
The source of the word neighbor, or the West Germanic form "nahgabur," is a compound of the words "near" and "dweller," especially a farmer.ﾠ So, a neighbor is a "near dweller."
I am a "ward" of my "near dwellers."
In the past several days I have enjoyed hospitality and have been thoroughly "buffered from adversity" by their many acts of kindness.
After a recent mass-murder of my hens in the Chic-Chalet, I came home from work late one evening to find that Jim Burks, Pharmacist at Pocahontas Memorial Hospital, had "re-flocked" the facility.
Tommy Meadows, of Locust Creek, showed up one morning and said, "I have my place in pretty good shape, what can I do for you?"
Dempsey Sharp, of Buckeye, promised to help me with a project at 8 one morning.ﾠ Knowing Dempsey's work ethic, I was ready at 7:30 when he came through the gate.ﾠ And despite encountering a huge copperhead a few days later, he donned his "snake chaps" and continued to clear the weeds from the edge of my yard along the Greenbrier River Trail.
ﾠPreparing to cut hay and discussing "switching the knives on the mower," Jim Ratliff, of Swago Farm, said, "I have no doubt that you are capable enough to change the knives, but despite that, I will be there at 7 o'clock in the morning to do it for you."
Michael McNeill, of Buckeye, is always available for heavy lifting and after a long day of haymaking at Swago, he swings by the farm to check on me.
Mechanic extraordinaire Wayne Mann made a late night call about a tractor problem and returned 12 hours later with the remedy.
Family, yes, but neighbors as well, Bill, Zach and Tanner Graham spent the better part of their Saturday rebuilding a section of my cattle pen.
Roger Pritt and Curtis Pritt, from the Buckeye County Mart, are only a phone call away for whatever I need, whenever I need it, and their work is excellent.
Bob and Brenda Sumner generously supply me with plants and produce.
I have the pleasure of watching building contractor Gene Wilfong's and his wife, Patty's, garden grow just outside my window.ﾠ And they, too, are always quick to lend a hand.
Stanley and Pat McNeill, of Buckeye, know my schedule and are on stand-by for my "all-through, all-done" calls to let them know that everything is on track.
Time spent in the McNeill's porch swing always includes unlimited access to their candy dish or Pat's most recent baked goods.
Although he has been given a reprieve for a week or two, I can't get along without "near dweller" plumber Jerry Duncan.
And, at Swago Farms, Maxine Ratliff will always welcome me to lunch for a respite from the day's work and to catch up on local, national and farming news.
And there are more - many, many more - never too busy for "the neighbor who needs them."
It is good to live in a place where "everybody knows your name."
As Nikolai Berdyaev put it, "Bread for myself is a material question.ﾠ Bread for my neighbor is a spiritual one."
An appropriate description of the kindness of neighbors in the country.
What's the Word?
1.ﾠa loud laugh that sounds like a horse neighing
2. a ditch with one side being a retaining wall; used to divide lands without defacing the landscape; a sunk fence.
Common in England, ha-has are ditches or trenches in which one side is concealed from view.ﾠ Ha-has vary in depth from two feet to nine feet and negate the need for fences or "grills" that would interfere with pastoral views and detract from that country's impressive architecture.
Before the advent of lawnmowers, ha-has were a commonly-used way to keep grass trimmed on the grounds of grand country houses and estates by allowing livestock, usually sheep, to graze in pastures while keeping them off the lawn and out of the formal gardens that adjoined the house.
In its modern form, the concept and term are of French origin dating back to 1686.
The name "ha-ha" or "ah-ah" is an expression of surprise, "the usual exclamation of ordinary folk on encountering such a design," writes Horace Walpole. The out of sight trenches were "deemed so astonishing, that the common people called them Ha! Has! to express their surprise at finding a sudden and unperceived check to their walk."
Ha-has were also used at "Victorian-Era lunatic asylums" such a Yarra Bend and Kew Asylum in Australia. "From the inside, the walls presented a tall face to patients, preventing them from escaping, while from outside, the walls look low so as not to suggest imprisonment."
Icehouses were often built into ha-has as the trenches provided an unobserved entrance and kept the icehouse out of view, as well.
A deep ha-ha was installed around 1774 at Woolwich Common in southeast London.ﾠ Woolwich Common was a stopover for sheep and cattle on their way to London's meat markets. The ha-ha kept the animals from wandering onto the Royal Artillery gunnery range. This particular ha-ha has been well preserved by the Ministry of Defense and is a "Listed Building," the equivalent of our National Register of Historic Places.
Ha-has are often referred to in literature.
In Terry Prachett's novel, "Men at Arms," a ha-ha, designed by an inept engineer, is accidentally specified to be 50 feet deep. This variation was called a "ho-ho" and it is reported to have claimed the lives of three gardeners.
Referring to another possible pitfall of a ha-ha, Prachett wrote, "I'm told there's a rather nice ha-ha at Elvaston Castle just outside Derby. From the house there appears to be an unobstructed vista into the distance, despite the presence of the main road to Derby crossing the field of view about 200 yards away. Unfortunately, when the house was designed, they hadn't invented double-decker buses or lorries, so the effect is a bit spoilt by the sudden appearance of the top half of a bus going past from time to time."
Mixing the past with the present, Tom Stoppard's 1993 play, "Arcadia," is set in an English Country house in 1809 and 1993.ﾠ A ha-ha is used as one of the "links between the 19th and 20th century characters."
Ha-has are still used in England. The most recent-built one is reported to be made from bomb damaged brickwork from World War II
In this country, the centuries-old idea of a ha-ha can be found at the Washington Monument in Washington, D. C.
Following the attacks of September 11, a barrier was put up to restrict cars from approaching the monument.ﾠ The new, one-sided ha-ha is a low granite stone wall that doubles as a seating bench and incorporates lighting. This design received the 2005 Park/Landscape Award of Merit.
What's the Word?
1. To wrap or twist together, interweave, ensnare
2. To involve in a perplexing or troublesome situation, become entangled in a lawsuit, to make complicated.
3. To twist together or entwine into a confusing mass; snarl. Merriam Webster Online
Synonyms: intertwine, complicate, compromise, implicate, embarrass, bewilder, perplex
Displayed in a monastery near Bebenhausen, Germany, are two sets of interlocked deer horns.ﾠ They were found in that position several years ago.
In the force of battle the animals' antlers became intertwined in such a way that they couldn't be separated.ﾠ They both died of starvation.
Few people die of starvation because of an entanglement, but many find that their lives are never the same.
As with the antlers, what is done can't be undone.
A timely quote this week on the Beard Heights Church of God sign reads "Present choices determine future rewards."ﾠ
We can add "future consequences" to that, as well.
Last week's news was full of reports of people who made choices that "complicated, compromised implicated and bewildered."
On the local level, many lives have been turned "upside down" by drug use and recent drug arrests.
On the national level, the former governor of California appears to be headed to divorce court; the former IMF chief, now on home confinement, could find jail as his next home; those who gave away their earthly belongings as they eagerly awaited the apocalypse must start anew.
As for Harold Camping, the 89-year-old doomsday messenger who predicted that the world would come to an end on May 21 ﾖhe got off lucky.
He just has to eventually show up for work and explain why he is still around.
The journey to entanglements if often failrly pleasant and if life was a game show, the way out of a "perplexing and troublesome situation" would be to say, "Pat Sajek, I'd like to spin again."
However, in real life, Frank Sinatra's words are oftentimes more accurate.
"The record shows, I took the blows, and did it my way."
What's the Word?
Apathy - pronounced "a-pa-the"
1.ﾠﾠﾠﾠﾠ Lack of feeling or emotion - impassive
2.ﾠﾠﾠﾠﾠ Lack of interest or concern - indifference. Merriam-Webster Dictionary
For this week, we can be more specific and consider "voter apathy."
"Apathy involves people either being content with their current status and the world around them, or being ignorant to those same surroundings. Apathetic citizens of any nation can cause the foundations of society to crumble because these people think everything is well on the surface, when in actuality, it is not." (Revolution Davies Essays)
The unofficial statewide turnout for Saturday's special gubernatorial election was 16 percent.ﾠ Pocahontas County voters came out a little better at just over 20 percent.
Maybe it's time to take hold of our civic responsibility.
When the founding fathers penned the U. S. Constitution, only white male property owners were given the right to vote.
Oddly enough, at that time white male property owners represented about 16 percent of the population.
Although apathy may not be totally responsible for the low turnout, it surely played a part.
All upstanding citizens have the right to vote.ﾠ Through the years religious requirements in the electoral process have been withdrawn as well as the exclusions of African Americans, poor whites and women.
And as of June 10, 2011, the ban on liquor sales on election day in West Virginia will be lifted. So if voters stayed home in protest of that archaic law, that, too, is going out the window. (It is noted that lost liquor sales on election day costs retailers an estimated $1 million.)
Throw in " no excuse" early voting at the courthouse and there is really no reason to have a dismal 20 percent turnout for an election.
Many years ago, two gentlemen from Buckeye walked through the Buckley Mountains to Huntersville to cast their votes.ﾠ One voted a straight Republican ticket, the other a straight Democrat ticket.ﾠ Although they canceled each other's vote every election, they still exercised their right to do so.
More recently a voter was overheard to say, "I didn't know any of those people running for the Board of Education, so I just said, ﾑeeny, meeny, miny, mo."'
And that is how you get an "eeny, meeny, miny, mo" government.
But voting isn't enough.
Today, if we choose to be informed, we can be saturated with information on candidates through the news media, mailings, forums and the Internet.
But apathy is not confined to the ballot booth.
It has also found a home in the jury box.
Once seen as an honor and a responsibility to help police the morals of the town and neighborhood,ﾠ a call to jury duty has now become, in some cases, a competition to see if would-be jurors can out-smart the system and be excused from service.
So, what is the final word on the subject?
Apathy - it's like a comfortable rocking chair with a bad rocker.ﾠ It will let you fall when you least expect it.
You may find yourself governed, even oppressed, by incompetent politicians on the local, state or national level.
Worse yet, you may, someday, find your fate in the hands of 12 people who weren't clever enough to get out of jury duty.
The Word of the Week
Shadenfreude - Schadenfreude -pronounced "Shod-n-froy-duh"
Shadenfreude is a German expression.
Schaden, means damage or harm; and Freude, means joy
In other words, "Taking pleasure from someone else's misfortune."
The English equivalent is "malicious glee or gloating."
In the song "Schadenfreude" from the musical "Avenue Q" the characters give several examples of schadenfreude, such as, "D'ja ever clap when a waitress falls and drops a tray of glasses?"
So, did you?
Why does one person feel deep compassion at the misfortune or troubles of others, while another finds joy - and often entertainment - by the same situation?
Scientific studies have found that people with low self-esteem (a feeling of insecurity or inadequacy) are more likely to have feelings of schadenfreude.ﾠ The bad luck of folks around them makes "low self-esteemers" feel better about themselves - at least for a little while.
Though not malicious, we have all enjoyed some form of shadenfreude.
Slapstick comedy of years ago used shadenfreude to attract laughs and audiences.
And, today, many TV sitcoms, such as "South Park," The Simpsons," and "King of the Hill" depend on shadenfreude for laughs, audiences and the ever important advertising dollar.ﾠ
A few years ago the finale of one long-running sitcom pretty well proved that the basis of its popularity, in addition to "being a show about nothing," was its characters chronic use and abuse of shadenfreude.
There is "secret shadenfreude,"which is a private feeling; and "open schadenfreude," which is outright public derision.
Shadenfreude has always been a part of the human psyche.
Evidence can be found as far back as the Old Testament and as recent as society's response to today's news stories.
Proverbs 24: 17 reads "Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice..."
Pastor Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of the Lutheran Hour in his devotional for Monday, May 2, wrote the following:
"Ten years ago, when the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were brought down, there were reports of people in some Islamic countries who were rejoicing. Although it made us mad to hear about such a thing, that was shadenfreude.
"Last night we heard how a ten-year-manhunt had come to a conclusion during a bloody battle in Pakistan. The final score was Navy Seals 1, bin Laden 0. As a citizen of the U.S., I felt justice had been done, some of my countrymen had been avenged and a terrorist had been stopped.
"Then, as a Christian I remembered how those folks from another faith had rejoiced when our people were killed. I remembered how I hadn't liked what they did back then and I figured they wouldn't like what I was doing now.
What's the Word?
"A Royal Peculiar is a place of worship that falls directly under the jurisdiction of the British Monarch rather than under a bishop, an ordained member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. The concept dates from Anglo-Saxon times, when a church could ally itself with the monarch and therefore not be subject to the bishop of the area." (Wikipedia)
Westminster Abbey is a "Royal Peculiar" and briefly held the status of a cathedral from 1546 to 1556. The Dean of Westminster is directly answerable to Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned as monarch of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories since 1952.
If you have been living under a rock, you may have missed last week's wedding of HRH Prince William of Wales to Commoner Catherine Middleton. The couple will now be addressed as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Another bit of history was added to Westminster Abbey on Friday as Middleton took that long walk - beneath the 102 foot high, intricately designed Gothic vault - toward her groom and into her royal future.
Pomp and circumstance were everywhere apparent for the occasion, but even more impressive than the array of hats for the event is the history and architecture of Westminster Abbey.
Westminster Abbey is one of the world's greatest churches, a designated World Heritage Site and it is one of the most important Gothic buildings in that country.
It has more than a thousand years of history.
Benedictine monks were first brought to Westminster in 960 AD. At a time when very few people, even kings, could write, monasteries were the main source of education.
The coronation of kings and queens has taken place in the Abbey since 1066 and more than 3,000 revered men and women from nearly every century are buried there. In addition to kings and queens, there are statesmen, politicians, lawyers, scientists, composers, warriors, clerics, artists, poets and writers: William Shakespeare, Winston Churchill, Charles Darwin, Sir Issac Newton, Charles Dickins, Sir Laurence Olivier, Robert Browning, Geoffrey Chaucer, Rudyard Kipling and Alfred Lord Tennyson, just to name a few.
The 11th century Abbey was founded by King Edward the Confessor and was consecrated on December 28, 1065, just a week before his death.
The present building dates from the reign of King Henry III.
Henry III died in 1272 and only one bay of the nave had been completed at that time. Several additions were made over the centuries with the greatest being the construction of the new Lady Chapel by Henry VII in 1503 and 1519. The last phase of construction was the completion of the West Towers in 1745.
There are several books available on the construction and restoration of Westminster Abbey such as W.R. Lethaby, Westminster Abbey and the Kings' Craftsmen: a study of medieval building (1906); F. Bond, Westminster Abbey (1909); T. Cocke, 900 Years: the Restorations of Westminster Abbey (1995); and T. Tatton-Brown and R. Mortimer (eds), Westminster Abbey: The Lady Chapel of Henry VII (2003); and Walter Leedy "Fan vaulting, a study of form, technique and meaning" (1980).
If those volumes sound a little stuffy, you might want to take a look at Ken Follett's historical novel, "The Pillars of the Earth," about the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge, England. It is set in the mid- 12th century and you will find that life as portrayed in that novel nor cathedral building in that day and time were for the faint-hearted.
In his preface to "The Pillars of the Earth," Follett writes, "When I was a boy, all my family belonged to a Puritan religious group called the Plymouth Brethren. For us a church was a bare room with rows of chairs around a central table....So I grew up pretty much ignorant of Europe's wealth of gorgeous church architecture."
We can understand where Follett is coming from and after the events of last week in London, our local churches surely paled in comparison of history and architecture to Westminster Abbey.
Our local churches may not be elaborate, but they are familiar.
And though we are not "royal," we are sometimes rather "peculiar."