Browsing: Nicola explains linguistics

Time is an abstract and nebulous concept – it’s not something we can see, and its nature is difficult to physically determine. Because of this, much of the language we use to describe time relies on metaphor. While these metaphors are typically consistent within a language, they tend to differ cross-linguistically.

Every comma I added, split infinitive I repaired, hung preposition I cushioned in noun phrases was proof that I was articulate. Articulate was the last few marks on my English assignments, the judge’s feedback from the debates I won, the glowing words printed on my report card. To be articulate was to be intelligent. To be worth listening to.

We build meaning with words and the definitions we understand them to have. It’s also hard to have a conversation with a limited set of words — if you want to express something but you don’t have a word for it, your explanation tends to be less precise, less streamlined.