Tag Archives: meaning

Hot Is Relative

Teaching English in Japan, I find some interesting differences in how certain words are used between English and Japanese.  The words may translate directly, but they may not have the same connotation.

For example, the weather has been unusually warm this week, reaching 21 degrees Celsius yesterday.  Usually, it’s in the low teens at this time of year.  Numerous people have told me it’s hot.  I always responded by acting surprised and saying I actually felt quite comfortable with this temperature.  I said it felt warm, and that hot meant it was uncomfortable, causing me to sweat.  That’s normally in the high 20s or above.

While hot may mean the same thing between Japanese and English, the Japanese may use it as a more relative term.  Hot could merely mean it’s warmer than normal.  In English, we usually mean it’s uncomfortably warm.  21 degrees is certainly not hot.  It is warm and very nice.  I think hot in English is more absolute.

Of course, what’s hot could be different between people from different countries.  In Canada, I often thought 28 degrees was hot.  After spending ten summers in Japan, 28 is actually not so hot, especially after a hot summer of two straight months of 30-plus temperatures.  It suddenly feels merely warm to me.

Language is fascinating, isn’t it?

I Am One, but Have Been Many

I may be one person, but through fiction, I have lived many lives.

I have been many people.  I have been born, grown up, struggled, triumphed, and died.  I don’t know how many times I have died, I’ve lost count. I’ve been a child, I’ve been a teenager, I’ve been an adult, I’ve been elderly.  I’ve gone through life’s stages many times.  I’ve been many men, I’ve been many women.  I’ve been human, elf, dwarf, alien, and wolf.  I’ve been a warrior.  I’ve been a scientist.  I’ve been an adventurer.  I’ve been a wizard, a witch, an assassin, a thief.  I’ve been a hero.  I’ve gone through tragedy.  I’ve lost loved ones, and I’ve lost myself.

I’ve been to many places on Earth.  I’ve been to the Moon, Mars, Europa, Ganymede, and Iapetus.  I’ve been to other stars.  I’ve been to other worlds uncharted.  I’ve been to the future, the past, and the present.  I’ve ridden a dragon, piloted a starship, and flown a broom.  I’ve cast spells, fired guns, and drawn a sword.  I’ve been handsome, beautiful, ugly, and ordinary.  I’ve been stabbed, shot, and poisoned.  I’ve gone through anguish, ecstasy, and blind rage.

I’ve seen life through different eyes.  I’ve become different people.  That’s what reading fiction does.  It gives you experiences you can never have in reality.  It expands your horizons, gives you new ideas, and opens your mind to other ways of thought.  It enriches you and makes you a better person.  I couldn’t live without reading.  It’s a wonderful way to inspire.  I wish everyone could experience that.

Pick up a book and read.  Your mind will thank you.

This was inspired by this wonderful post by RamblingAnt.  Go on over there and tell him what you think.  Share with us what reading means to you.  The comments below are open for your thoughts.

Meaning in Fiction

Reading novels in high school English class is all about the meaning.  I remember my teachers asking us to write about what we thought the author meant.  And of course, after that, they then told us what the authors really meant.  It made me think, are the teachers just BSing their way through these lessons?  Do they really know what the author meant?

I’ve seen this meme going around often.

whattheauthormeantI wonder how true this is.  On the other hand, it’s quite possible that authors are trying to convey one message, but the teacher thinks it’s a completely different message.  And of course, the teacher is always right, even if the student got it right.  It’s that kind of English teacher I don’t like.  It’s much better if the teacher grades the work based on how well the student can explain why they think the author meant what they think.

But I’d like to ask you a couple questions.

If you’re a reader, do you like to find the message in the story?  Do you read for the meaning, or do you just read for the fun of it?  Deep meaning or an escape?

If you’re a writer, do you try to put meaning into your stories, or do you just write to entertain?  Do you discover meaning while you’re writing?  Do you just want to captivate your readers with a great story?  Or do you set out to deliver an important message to them?

Please leave your answers in the comments.