Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Signs, signs, everywhere signs

As I drive to work I pass through a small community, and I pass two marquee-style signs. I've mentioned the one on the church before. This week's version goes like this:


It's tempting to stop and cover up the third word, making the sign itself more truthful. But I'd never do that — I'm not into vandalism, and even an “innocuous” covering of part of the sign, easily reversed, would be offensive and inappropriate. But it is tempting....

Across the street and half a block down is the library, also sporting a sign. Its sign publicizes library events, such as lectures and music concerts. Lacking those to tout, they go for other things, and for the past couple of weeks it's said this:


Now, that's a curious one, because “curious” has had several meanings over the centuries, and even the current ones are quite different from each other. Its meaning of “careful/cautious”, which comes from its Latin root, seems to have died out by the early 19th century. Varying the sense of “careful” led to alternative meanings, such as “attentive to detail”, “skillful”, and “ingenious”, all of which are also now obsolete.

As to its current meanings, we have “inquisitive” and we have “odd”. I used the latter to start the previous paragraph; it appears to date from the early 18th century (whereas the other senses are centuries older).

Whether I be more inquisitive or more odd, or whether, as I like to think, skillful and ingenious also apply, I'll prefer the building with the wider selection of books.

“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).

1 comment:

scouter573 said...

The old saying that curiosity killed the cat - is it really suggesting that caution was the problem rather than inquisitiveness?