Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mr.Klinkenborg : Ping,Pang,Pong.So?

Lately I’ve been thinking about the word “vang.” It is a sailing term, and if you look it up in the glossary of Royce’s “Sailing Illustrated,” you find that it refers to a line to prevent “the peak of a gaff from falling off leeward.” That is how it goes when you’re learning a new technical vocabulary. The language seems self-enclosed at first, each new definition an opaque cluster of words that themselves need defining. I was taught, during vocabulary in grade school, to try using a new word in a sentence. “There is a vang.” “Can someone show me the vang?” Those are my best efforts so far.

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