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You Want To Kick My What? Where?.....

Let's kick it....
Dude this place is kickin'....
Man that test kicked my ass....

So many meanings from so small a word.

My brain has been thoroughly medicated with Nyquil for the last 24 hours. And I found during the few moments when I wasn't unconscious or coughing up another portion of my fragile lungs through my raw throat, that strange things swirled in my mind.

The strange and random idea I latched onto this evening was the multiple meanings we as humans assign to the same word. It's no wonder that non-English speaking individuals have so much trouble learning our language----where a seemingly insignificant word can have 15 different meanings, which can only be determined by the context in which it was spoken.

The most frustrating part of our language has to be context. If you can't understand the context in which the word was spoken, then how will you determine the meaning?? This is even more complicated when one realizes that the same word can have completely opposite meanings in different statements.

As evidence:

Kick the Bucket

Alive and Kicking

The first one indicates death. The second one indicates life.

Kicking the bucket, apparently became a common phrase in the late 1500s, attributed to the wooden frame---the Bucket--- that held animals in a slaughterhouse. In the throes of death, the animals would thrash about and naturally "kick the bucket".

Alive and Kicking, has been attributed to an anonymous author's travelogue from 1801, where the narrator was told by a young crab-boy that was interviewed: "I left them crabs alive and kicking, your honor, when I went off to church."

It doesn't get more opposite than life and death.

And, what it was that caused a difference in meaning after 300 years, we'll never know. What I would like to know, however, is why---once the meaning did change--- did we continue using the old meaning??? Isn't our language complicated enough without holding on to EVERY single meaning of the same word???

There are so many other words that have fallen into disuse and out of memory because they are no longer needed. They are redundant and forced into literary retirement all because it is much simpler for one word to have multiple meanings.

At the rate we're going, in a few hundred years, we may have no need for vocabularies whatsoever as the meaning of everything will be held in just one word, the context implied, the meaning subconsciously understood.....

Wonder what that ubiquitous word might someday be.....


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