Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Four-letter Words: A

The "Four-letter Word" series was scheduled to appear on Fridays.  Because I slipped "N" into last Friday's slot we will insert this one on Wednesday in place of the Pineville tales which may resume Monday if the muse favors us with another idea.

For the letter "A" the word I have chosen is:


"Able" is an adjective meaning competent, equal to, prepared to, having the opportunity to, accomplish an end.  To say one is able implies that he is intelligent, skillful, accomplished, or talented.  Able is a powerful word and conveys confidence in the recipient of this descriptor.

Miss Lillian Bateman, my senior English teacher in high school  was given to nautical references, just one of her many fascinating tricks in her repertoire.   Often when she called on me she would favor me thus: "Mr. Lacy, Able Seaman, please explicate on the reading of the previous paragraph."
When she signed my yearbook she addressed me just so.  I think to this day that the lady was making a sincere attempt to educe the confidence she felt I had buried within me.  Other students had their pet designations, but to the best of my recollection I was the only one on whom she bestowed the adjective "able."  BTW there were many kids in that class brighter than I.   Too bad "bright" is not a four-letter word.  Have to look elsewhere for the next post.


Grace said...

I don't hear all that in the word able. I googled the definition and was surprised it was so positive, laudatory even. I hear 'able' as competent and I hear competent as mediocre.

vanilla said...

Grace, I guess I hear it more as "can" as opposed to "cannot"; competent/incompetent. I suppose there are levels of ability.
Isn't language fun? Is it the case that we can never be sure that our choice of words communicates the ideas in our heads?

Grace said...

Oh absolutely! Not just whether our choice of words communicates our thoughts but we can never be sure what the listener hears , or rather how they process what they hear - my old and dear friend, connotation.

vanilla said...

Grace, "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."

Vee said...

You had a "real" teacher of English. She obviously sought to instill confidence along with lessons. Dedicated teachers do that.

vanilla said...

Vee, Miss Bateman was a whiz-bang teacher. So was Wm. Steele and Mr. Ballinger. All three retired within a year of my tenure at CSHS. I like to think I had nothing to do with driving them out.