More on “Eloquence”

Eloquence is a lottery game. The LOTTO usually has 42 numbers from 1 to 42, and you pick six of them. There are, how many combinations of sixes in those 42 numbers? Two and a quarter million, perhaps. I had it worked out once, but I remember it as something like that figure.

(Perhaps you can help me with the math. I keep forgetting. I’d like to have it in writing. My math course in high school was for math losers who wanted to get by. I dodged the requirement in the university by using any artful dodgers ploy, geology, but I really wanted to take astronomy. But I have used and understand some basic statistical procedures in research and have a pretty good understanding of stats up to a point.)

The lottery applied to eloquence? The dictionary of English has about 400,000 words. I saw it at 320,000, but that was an older dictionary and I presume many words have been inserted since that dated tome. New words are being invented all the time, just as new species of animals are being discovered all the time, and some are becoming extinct. Language is a living and breathing organism. However, a number of words have probably been dropped since some archaic words may have become too archaic and have no chance of ever being used again, the dictionary being a practical book of living words with some on life support. I am not a lexicographer and do not know their art. I could probably get an explanation in any huge dictionary’s preface.

(I remember saying to myself, “Okay, I’m a man of words, so I am going out and buy myself the biggest dictionary I can find. It cost, at that time, $50. It required that I also buy a special piece of furniture to hold it, the dictionary stand with the proper tilt and wheels. I read the Preface or Introductory stuff, and there it gave the number of words and how they qualified for life.)

Eloquence is a lottery of words, written or spoken. What are the chance combinations among all those words to hit on a sentence that is a winner? A winner being that combination that tickles a listener’s or reader’s fancy. Ponder the mind of the poet, or better yet, of the novelist who must make a hit with many, many thousands of combinations. Now ponder the mind of anyone who makes a living in finding those combinations. And ponder the minds that never make the effort to be “colorful”. Compare and contrast the mind of our last President to and with the mind of our present President.

’Nuff said!

(Except, I play the LOTTO. On my death bed, I fantasize, I will ask a son to check the numbers for one last time and tell him where the ticket is, and then he’ll come rushing in to tell me, “Dad, you’ve won the lottery. Thank you, Dad.” I hope I can find the eloquence to curse my luck in some scaffold oratory as my last compensation.)

(P.S. I’ll be cursing my “luck”. But I’ll never curse my “good fortune”, in wife and life and kids, in mind and time and history and inheritance. Never! Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

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Published in: on July 24, 2009 at 7:26 am  Comments (11)  

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