Friday, September 4, 2009

Battleaxe or a Pike?

I've had a note in my desk for years that says "Find that battleaxe thing."

Today I found it. What "it" is is a post from 1998, on a forum that doesn't exist, but I printed it out then, so I'm transcribing it here.






Subject: Re: Calling Sandra Dodd...
Date: Tue, Sep 29, 1998
From SandraDodd

<<Oliver is looking over my shoulder, and he needs clarity on the difference between a battleaxe and a pike.>>

A battleaxe is a cranky old woman and a pike is a fish.

A pike is longer and has to have a pokey thing on the end (speartip). An axehead is optional.

A battleaxe is heavier, shorter, and the pokey thing is optional.

I'm saying this without looking in a book or calling my many knowledgeable friends. BRB. (Did you know I was gone?)

I would ask my husband but he's off buying a caster for my kick stool (because I'm short), which brings up the question what is the difference between a caster (or is it castor? they do make that oil...[just joking]) and a wheel?

Okay. I called my friend Jeff [a.k.a. Duke Artan MacAilin in the SCA]. He's a word-freak and medieval combat practitioner. I read him my definitions and he said "that's it."

I wanted to say something about knowing everything. I had a family visit my house last weekend. It was like an unschooling factory tour. I was showing them toys and telling stories about how if kids have played with all kinds of things and thereby gotten scientific principles down in a sensory and intellectual kind of way, after they're older all that's left is the vocabulary, the terminology.

I bought a dictionary with my own money at the age of nine. I've been accused of being a know-it-all my whole life, but what I mostly know is words. If you know the name for an alternator, if you know the difference between an alternator and a generator by definitions, it will seem you know about the electrical systems of cars, and you WILL know more than if you didn't know that.

So because I've read about the Middle Ages for fun all my life and then hung around guys who talk about and make and use weapons, I just know. Same way people can tell a poodle from a greyhound (terminology) people gradually add to the details of their knowledge every day that they live.

That's why unschooling works. That's HOW unschooling works. Because someone cares about the difference between a pike (the word "pike") and a battleaxe (the word and the parameters of its meaning).

Definitions. Look at the word itself, "definitions."

OKAY! If you read this post carefully you've just done more than many college courses in philosophy do in an hour. Congratulations, you unschooler!

5 comments:

Bona Fide Mama said...

that was fabulous!

Teresa said...

I think shades of meaning are so beautiful. It makes one feel so powerful and connected to be able to name something--a weapon, a feeling, an experience--in a way that allows someone else to truly KNOW them.

Word Imp said...

Hi Sandra.Just popped by to say hi and let you know I'm back to doing my Word Imperfect blog at last. Hope to see you there.

Sandra Dodd said...

http://wordimperfect.blogspot.com/ There's Word Imp's game.

Andrea said...

I really enjoyed this post, it made me smile! Just this morning, my boys and I were trying to figure out the difference between a sword and a dagger! Good stuff to know.

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