I Heart Indies

Sunday, November 13, 2011

M, m November, The Alphabet Project


M, m: From the Canaanite mem “water.” Modern M still has the same sharp, steep waves, but rather than cascading, stands planted on two feet, touching the ground with a beak-like middle, so it now more resembles twin mountains than a waterfall.

metathesis: The transposition of sounds in a word, as in the childish pronunciation of “pasketti” for “spaghetti” or the doltish proclivity for saying “noocular” for “nuclear.” Metathesis is responsible for some genuine words in English: butterfly was once more logically known as a flutterby and sideburns take their name from the metathesis of Burnsides, the Civil War general who popularized the style.

move: To change location. From the Latin movere, from whence also motion, motor, demote, promote as well as emotion and motivation. Movement is expressed as the ratio of distance and time, distance being the interval between objects, and time the interval between events: miles per hour, feet per second. We use time to measure movement – see above – and movement to measure time – the gliding of a second hand around a clock face; the march of numbers from square to square across the Cartesian grid of a calendar; the gradual flight of color from wisteria and dogwood, to azalea, to gardenia, to mimosa, crepe myrtle, Rose of Sharon, and lantana, the leaves of hardwoods, and thence to the ground. Without movement, time could not exist.

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