Thursday, July 23, 2009

Living the Wow

Be still
for a moment
catch the magic
in a falling raindrop
capture the miracle
of the first sunray
celebrate the smell
of morning tea.
Talk to the wandering clouds
Chase a rainbow
Tweet back to the birds
Let a butterfly
alight on your shoulder
Bring back the magic
the wonderment
the wow

Lost and Found

How I yearn for the lonesome sea
rushing, roaring, rolling perpetually
What does it ponder? what does it pray?
Is there hope or just dismay?
Alive n' kicking or plain frustrated
Are its dramatics authentic or narrated?
Is the blue sky its only audience?
Colouring it with its own moods and vibrance?
How I wish I were lost in the breeze
No voice, no murmur, no 'thanks you', no 'please'
Dance if I could with all that is me
Joining the sea and the sky, break free!
Languages abound but I want no words
Just want to drown in a sense of purpose...


I came across two baffling usages of words in the last few days. They comprise of (or should I say 'comprise'?) comprise, biweekly and bimonthly.

Now, to be frank, I have grown up using 'comprise' in the sense of 'made of'. Apparantly, that's incorrect! According to my reliable online resource, which is again based upon Random House Dictionary, 'comprise' has had an interesting history of development.
To quote: "In addition to its original senses, dating from the 15th century, 'to include' and 'to consist of' (The United States of America comprises 50 states), 'Comprise' has had since the late 18th century the meaning 'to form or constitute' (Fifty states comprise the United States of America") Since the late 19th century it has also been used in passive constructions with a sense synonymous with that of one of its original meanings 'to consist of' or 'be composed of': (The United States of America is comprised of 50 states). These later usages are often criticized but they occur with increasing frequency even in formal speech and writing."

The dictionary further states that the traditional rule is that 'The whole comprises the parts and the parts compose/constitute/make-up the whole'. For instance, 'The Union comprises 50 states, whereas fifty states compose/constitute/make-up the Union'.
Apparantly, there are writers who still maintain this distinction. But 'comprise' is increasingly being used in the place of 'compose', especially in the passive voice: 'The Union is comprised of 50 states'. This is what even I have been using since a long time!

However, singling me out for blame wouldn't be right, because apparantly this usage has been increasing. In the 1960s, 63 per cent of the Dictionary's Usage Panel found this usage unacceptable. But in 1996, only 35 per cent objected.
So that's about the first conundrum. Should I bow down to the Queen's English or should I continue following vox populi?

The second conundrum is about the meaning of bi-weekly and bi-monthly?
You tell me: Does is mean twice a week/month or once every two weeks/months?
Got you! Didn't I? Well, apparantly, both the meanings are in practice!
Check out the following links, the authorities in the English language:

I do understand that I can squeeze my way past the confusion created by 'bi-weekly' by replacing it with 'fortnightly' whenever required. But what do I do about 'bi-monthly'?
Aah! English language is both fascinating and silly, and perhaps for these very same reaosn it is so popular... eh! What say?