Dear T, U and V,

I must apologize for missing your days. You all are perfectly wonderful letters and I do not want to sell you short. Sadly, I’m afraid I must.

Each day that I fall another letter behind, the pressure to catch up increases. Then I do what I often do. I imagine how much time it will take to write so many posts, I become overwhelmed, and I freeze because I haven’t even decided which of your aspects I want to write about.

So, I’m sorry that you three in particular must suffer because of my shortcomings. All I can do is hope you see it in your hearts to forgive me.

For what it’s worth, I intend to honor each of you in time. Please know you are all special letters who deserve so much more than what follows. I trust that you will remain strong through this difficult time.

Love,

Random

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Brooklyn Museum Letter T, James TissotT is for The

The. It’s a tremendously useful word, yet so easy to take for granted.

Sometimes ‘the’ is small, as when designating a specific one of a group. “Man is strange.” “The man is strange.” “Bill went hunting deer.” “Bill went hunting the deer.”

Then there’s the big ‘The’ as in The Hulk. That has much more oomph than just Hulk, which sounds like an odd first name. “Hi, my name is Hulk. Hulk Johnson.” It even outdoes a Hulk because The says that this Hulk is not just one of a kind. He’s the one and only.

(T is also for Time, which I’m running out of.)

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Brooklyn Museum Letter U, James TissotU is for Un-

Un is a a fun prefix. Sometimes it means not, as in unfaithful. Other times it means to reverse, as in undo. Still other times it can be confusing.

What’s the difference between uninterested and disinterested* as in, “Have you ever read a post you were more uninterested/disinterested in?”

(U is also for Urgent, which this post is rapidly becoming.)

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Brooklyn Museum Letter V, James TissotV is for Vague

I’m sure I could write lots of stuff about this useful word, but I have some things to get to so maybe I’ll have to get back to it sometime later.

(V is also for Vivace, used in music to indicate a fast and lively tempo, which I need to get caught up, which I nearly am, and which has led me to this vile violation of a sentence that I’ll put out of our misery right now.)

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* If you have a copy of Garner’s Modern American Usage, I encourage you to read about this under the “disinterested; uninterested” entry. The gist is that common usage has blurred the distinction between the two words so that many use them interchangeably.

But Garner says, “…the distinction is still best recognized and followed because disinterested captures a nuance that no other word quite does.”

My take on his point is that ‘disinterested’ speaks less to an attitude (as in lack of interest) and more to being unaffected by. As Garner says, “A disinterested observer is not merely ‘impartial,’ but has nothing to gain from taking a stand on the issue in question.”

This may be one of those times when I feel sad that our use of language appears to be making ‘disinterested’ at best obsolete and at worst, redundant.


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T, U and V: An apology
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4 thoughts on “T, U and V: An apology

  • 04-27-2012 at 8:22 am
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    Thoughtful, clever, funny, sincere. Nicely done. I admire you facing down the overwhelm, brave man.

    Reply
    • 04-27-2012 at 1:42 pm
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      Thank you! Do you think T, U and V will forgive me? It may be very difficult to get on without them.

      Reply
    • 04-30-2012 at 7:55 pm
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      Thank you! [bows to hide blushing]

      Reply

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