language, culture and style…

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called December 7th “a date which will live in infamy,” because it was on this day in 1941 that Japanese planes attacked the naval base at Pearl Harbor. More than 2,300 Americans died in the attack, and the United States joined World War II, which it had stayed out of the war for more than two years, adhering to its policy of neutrality in Europe’s affairs.

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If Only Life Were Like Language


by Paul Hostovsky

 

If Only Life Were Like Language


and all the natural resources like words,


then the world would be


an unambiguously better place.


Because when you use a word


like apocalypse, say, it doesn’t then follow


that there is one less apocalypse to go around––


there are still an infinite number of apocalypses,


more than enough for everyone. And the more


people who use a language the more


the language grows rich and strong


and resourceful and ramifying


with new and far-out ways of saying things,


not to mention all the lexical borrowings that go on,


the exotic words and phrases, and the names––


names of dinosaurs and flowers


and racehorses and hurricanes––


and the lists, praise be to God for the lists!


Which is just the opposite of the world


with its dying rivers and dwindling resources


and endangered species list.


With words you can make stuff up out of nothing


which is more than you can say


for physics or chemistry or corn. Earth’s


the right place for language. I don’t know where


else you could invent an imaginary escape hatch


up and out of a dying world,


and take a little of the world with you in your pockets


like the jingling coins of a realm,


or like the crepitating bits and pieces


of a beautiful intact dead language


for sprinkling over the smart lunch conversation


in the next.

“If Only Life Were Like Language” by Paul Hostovsky from Is That What That Is. FutureCycle Press © 2017.

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