Language is a curious little beastie. It is filled with all sorts of interesting sounds that somehow convey meaning to others. And that is really all language ultimately is … a series of sounds. Sure these sounds can also be represented symbolically, but the symbols still refer to sounds for most people.
I often wonder how words came into being. Many probably started when prehistoric Og, trying to tell his pal Ug to look out for that vicious critter over there. Without the words “vicious critter”, he likely would have to resort to sound effects to indicate what he meant. For instance “Grrrrrrr rrrrrripppp Ahhhhhh!” which over time somehow managed to be converted into “Tyrannosaurus Rex!”
Of course these days there is often little resemblance to what the word refers to and the word itself. Which in some cases may be a blessing. Words can even lose their meaning entirely as anyone who says the same word over and over again for a long while can attest. Go ahead and try it if you never have.
It gets even stranger when we combine a few words to represent an idea. Some of these word combinations attain the status of common usage, despite often making no sense. Today when discussing with a friend our mutual state of being, she said she “Felt like crap!” Technically that was not the word she used but I am trying to keep this “G” rated. My response: “What does crap feel like anyway? Depends on what kind and what ya been eating I would think.”
When you think about it, what does a phrase like that actually mean? Or worse yet when someone says ‘Tastes like crap”. I wonder if they make a habit of tasting such a delicacy. There are all sorts of phrases like this that make me wonder. “Hotter than hell!” I guess that one makes sense since Hell is theoretically a burning pit. In that case where does “Colder than hell!” fit in? If Hell is hot, pretty much anything would be colder than hell. Even a hot summer’s day. Not getting it folks!
One of my personal favorites is “sick as a dog”. What exactly DOES that mean. As far as I know dogs are not innately sick, and even when they do get sick they don’t get any sicker than anyone else. So why would we use them for gauging our feel good level?
Anyway I’ve bored my poor readers enough for today. Guess I will make like a leaf and get out of here.