When I love to get mail

When the year began I made the resolution of not buying any more books for a while. The foundation for that decision was the amount of books I already have that I have not yet started to read, and a desire to keep a bit more money in my wallet.

I have failed.

There’s always the “last book I will get”, usually a fiction temptation, or delicious reference material, or a biography about Prokofiev (I have nine of those), and yesterday the postman dropped off a box that contained the last six books I will get this year. My heart pounds with a slight sense of guilt that sits in the back of the bus, all the way back while the selfish pleasure I take in my purchases bullies it and calls it names.

The box came from Daedalus, a company that sells very cheap books, from which I will probably continue to order books even if I were to find out the owner puts puppies in his mouth or takes candy from babies.

List of guilty pleasures:

This is a book about a dog, and it’s a Christmas present for someone who has two of those creatures. Me? I’m more of a cat person, multiplied by three. I started wrapping this coming Christmas’ presents in July, so as to avoid the stress and rush of the end of the year. So far it’s working very well.

I only hope the recipient of this book doesn’t notice I’m wrapping it in paper she’s used to give me presents in the past. Another thing I am is cheap. As long as being cheap doesn’t involve books.

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I got this book for someone who will invariably give it back to me come Christmas Day, so I suppose I’m cheating… but my conscience will rest in peace as soon as I remind it that I’m so dedicated to giving loved ones the right present that I would never dream of gifting them with something I would not love to receive myself.

I know I’m including the Amazon.com link with every book, but they are all available at Daedalus for far less money, in all cases for less than half the price. What I like best is finding used copies, even library rejects that turn out to be in fairly decent shape. There’s something tree-saving about purchasing a book that would have perhaps ended at a landfill.

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Because I love music of all periods, especially the Modern and Romantic ones, and I love to learn all I can about instruments and sheet music, so I can eventually play the former and read the latter.

So this one’s for me. My mom plays the piano a bit, and she often played Classical music records as my brothers and I were growing up, but she seldom mentioned composers or names of the pieces, so it’s taken me years to retrace my steps and learn who wrote what, so as to add it to my own music collection. Listening to NPR helped with that.

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I own a book about insults found in all of Shakespeare works, and it’s in a flap format that allows you to combine words to form multiple affronts. It’s fabulous fun, so when I saw this little number, I knew I had to have it.

When I ordered it I convinced myself it’s another Christmas present for someone in my family as bored with the f word as I am, but now that I’ve received it, I think I’ll keep it.

Oh, you know you’d do the same, you inconversable kites!

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I love books about languages, from dictionaries to grammar and writing books, any kind will do. I probably have an etymology “fetish”, since searching for the origin of words—phrases, idioms, all that good stuff—is compulsive, the fun kind of compelling imperative that helps me understand a language more and more each day.

The accent is something else. You Americans and your funny ways of pronouncing words.

If Kansas is ‘kan-zəs, then how come Arkansas is ‘ är-kən- sȯ? What the heck is that about? It’s fascinating to find out, and amusing to learn how different ethnic groups happen to carry pronunciation responsibility.

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I repeat the above for this one. I read a very interesting article a few months ago about the importance of learning different languages. It’s impossible to dedicate oneself to truly understand the structure of a new language and at the same time avoid learning about the culture that speaks it, and the ties that form with the culture to which one belongs.

That’s what I found when I learned English, and it’s the same thrill I hope to find when I learn to speak German. There are people that have been hearing me say that for years, but hey, it will happen. The day I’m able to call myself a polyglot I’m gonna get such a big head!

Who knows, maybe my body will grow too, to match its enormous size. 🙂

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15 thoughts on “When I love to get mail

  1. Your love of books and reading, has been and remains so infectious to me. You may not agree or see that as the case, but indeed your passionate love of reading, the books you collect and read, the many diverse subjects you enjoy, your love of languages and word origins…it all is a very powerful, meaningful influence on me. And as I write this, I am thinking of how wonderful it is to be with you and have the privilege to appreciate more and more, the power of words, the power of reading and the enjoyment therein of expanding my knowledge through you and with you.

    I don’t know the appropriate way to convey to you just how special it is to me, to have this influence from you added to my life. Reading is so very important…understanding words, their definitions, their origins, so important. You inspire me to read more and to learn…yes…you do. And I will forever keep saying to you, how grateful I am for you in my life. How grateful I am to learn from you and be inspired to be a better more educated man and spirit.

    And I would very much love to share reading with you of the books above you’ll be keeping for yourself. If that would be OK.

    Your little squid

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  2. Thank you for the comment, little squid.

    I think my love of books is mostly infectious toward myself, but thankfully I’ve been more or less able to restrain myself from spending a bunch of money on books lately. The way the economy is these days, I would honestly call that “restraint” I just mentioned something more like “I have no damn choice”.

    But it is good to cut back and know when you have enough, and in my case I have enough to keep me reading for years.

    And I agree with you. Words are powerful. They stay with you in ways no wound of the flesh does. They have a way of cutting through you and wrapping themselves around you, shaping your mind, sometimes doing the parenting, or the abusing. Anyone that’s been reading since early childhood knows of that stamp those books read many years ago leave.

    My books happen to be some of my most prized possessions, and I say that even though I’m working hard at not prizing possessions.

    Sooo… NO SHARING!

    😀

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  3. i like etymology like you,to learn english is not too easy for me and still my english is not very good because structure of english is stranger from my native language turkish.adding to words and verbs is very significant in turkish language and you can say different things with only one word by courtesy of adding way but in english you have to say different sentences for ex.in english go means git in turkish but i’m going means gidiyorum,i went means gittim,i will go means gideceğim,i have gonna means gitmiştim,i can go means gidebilirim,i have to go means gitmeliyim as you see adding to verb is enough, auxiliary verb and subject is not necessary or another ex.there is creating new words from related works with adding way in turkish but there is no that in english for ex.to know and information are related words but their writings are very very different but in turkish to know means bil and information means bilgi and science means bilim intellectual means bilgili,there are too examples like that

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  4. Another example you don’t need to change subject in turkish adding to verb is enough for ex. to come means gelmek in turkish and i came means geldim,you came means geldin,he or she came means geldi,we came means geldik,they came means geldiler.

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  5. Interesting. Languages are fascinating! You are communicating effectively in English, so your efforts are paying off.

    Simply adding to the verb probably makes learning Turkish very easy for some. In Spanish we add to the verb and use a subject; a bit more complicated to learn, I imagine. So far my perception of the German language is that it’s much easier to learn than Spanish, but it’s still taking me years to learn it.

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  6. Your native language Spanish is a great language.i don’t know Spanish but its pronounciation is fascinating.Actually Spanish,Italian,French, Portuguese simply all Mediterranean languages like poem. daily speaking even like a work of art in these languages.

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  7. I think,one of the beauty of learning language is that when you learn a language also you learn a culture.there is a aphorism.It’s that languages are not learned,cultures are learned.one nation’s daily speaking language includes a nation’s culture.For example in our Turkish culture to respect old people is very significant but in English culture,this condition is not valid.for ex. you can call anyone who 30 years older than you with only his or her name and this is very very weird condition for me because in Turkish daily speaking language if anyone is six or 20 years older than you,you have to call him or her abi or abla (abi means big brother,abla means big sister)if you don’t call like that,that is big disrespect and than if anyone is 20 or more years older than you and if you call him or her only his or her name or abi or abla,this is also big disrespect.you have to call him or her teyze or amca (teyze means aunt,amca means uncle)as you see relative relationship is not necessary to call anyone brother or sister or uncle or aunt or son and daughter because if you like too much anyone who too younger than you,you can call him or her my son or my daughter (my son means oğlum,my daughter means kızım)or you can call your friend who you like too much my brother or sister.in my opinion this conditions which in our daily speaking language shows our intimacy and sincerity.

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    • I agree! That’s what I realized when I was learning English (in fact, I still am, every day; and everyday I see what you mention). The way I see it, it’s impossible to truly understand a language without also understanding its history, and the people that use it.

      That’s very interesting, about the ways of addressing our elders. There is a way of speaking to them in Spanish that is different from the manner in which we address those that are the same age or younger, and it’s also the way we address people we have just met.

      Thank you for the instant language lesson, msg!

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  8. I’m a cat person too. I love dogs, and dogs love me, but I really connect with cats. They’re such an interesting psychological study, so well socialized… or I’ve been lucky.

    I look with envy upon the Samuel Johnson book. I love period slang, I love studying word origins and histories, I have many excellent books on these and I love every new one that comes along. Google Books is actually good for seeking out obscure titles…

    This one must please you, though likely you’ve heard of it already. English as She Is Spoke. Mark Twain called it one of the funniest books he’d ever read, though it wasn’t meant to be a comedy. I believe two Portuguese men wanted to create a marketable book on learning English, but all they had was a Portuguese/French phrasebook and a French/English phrasebook. What comes of this is astonishing.

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  9. I wasn’t always a cat person. I used to dislike them, in fact. But then I started conversing with cat owners on that thing we called AOL, when it had chatrooms, and I became very curious about the furry creatures. Then, do you know what THE UNIVERSE did? It presented me with a stray that broke into my home. I love that cat. I love him so much.

    Ooh, thanks for that title. It’s new to me, so I’ll take a look. And I bet you have heard of this already, but one of my favorites is http://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/story-of-human-language.html. I got it on loan from the library, and it’s fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • John McWhorter! One of my top three favorite linguists (along with, in no order, Ben Zimmer and Gretchen McCulloch)! McWhorter’s the one who converted me from prescriptivism (The Power of Babel)!

      And as long as you’ve opened the Pandora’s box of me geeking out on linguistics, I generally appreciate McCulloch’s All Things Linguistic, but I must urge you to grab a beverage you enjoy and poke through her work on The Toast (Goddess rest its soul)!

      If you’re estimating how much fun I am at parties, I assure you you’re correct, whatever conclusion you’ve reached.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I love prescriptive books, but listening to his lectures brought upon a greater understanding and tolerance for different styles of expression. I’m going to have to check out The Toast. It looks like my kind of fun.

        I don’t know how much fun you are at parties… I assumed it might be quite amusing to watch you try to avoid getting trampled by giant feet, while helplessly trying to strike conversations with persons much, much taller than you. And forget about flagging the hors d’oeuvres lady. She’d never hear you.

        Liked by 1 person

        • One hopes an infrastructure’s in place, like shielded Habitrail ramps and platforms that raise me to shoulder level, at least, so I can chat with people. Granted, they have to come to me, so I’d better be braced with the best bon mots and observations of the day, to make it worth their while. The punishments for being a boring or annoying tiny person are exponentially greater than among equals.

          They can knock you off your perch and stomp you as you scramble away. They can dunk you in a drink and toss you back in one go. Or they simply heat up some popcorn and release the cats.

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          • Whoa, if anyone ever released the cats on my little one, I’d release the Kraken. Your system of interaction with those gigantic people sounds great, but my favorite idea is that your giant wife or girlfriend simply carries you in her pocket, which performs the role of balcony. You’d have to endure those guests staring at her chest the entire time, but at least you’ll take comfort in the knowledge they were only looking at you.

            And don’t worry if they laugh at the things you say. Giant language is far too superior for little ones to grasp without years of training, and practice. 😀

            Liked by 1 person

            • Yes, not the first time I’ve heard the “did that go over your head” joke. Giant language seems to rely on a few tried-and-true puns and punchlines, that much I gather.

              I’m sure someone on Etsy is due to construct special platform/cages that hang from a sturdy necklace, keeping the clever little witling secured just above his lover/keeper’s décolletage, close to her heart. I get to embarrass the more loutish guests with “now, what did I just say?” gotcha-questions, as well as gaze into the loveliest abyss all night long.

              Liked by 1 person

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