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Spectacular, ornacular, vernacular

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By John Pawlak

 Why is a mouse when it spins?  Well, why not?
 That’s a “koan,” a nonsensical question given to a Buddhist student to help teach them the art of meditation and contemplation.  For me, it was just a great question to ask during an interview and then watch to see how long it took for the candidate to start breathing again.
  In high school, I always did well in math and I took equal pride in my inability to do well in my language classes (or should I say I dint do good).  I recall reading that the great mathematicians throughout history were usually terrible at language.  And at some point in my not-so-accurate education, I was told that people are either left-brained or right-brained (which by the way isn’t true), and that the left-brain controlled mathematics and language.
 And so the theory was that if you were good at math, you didn’t have any “brain room” for language.   I was subsequently told that I was “left brained,” which made perfect sense to my parents who often remarked that I was not in my right mind.
 But as I’ve gotten older (I’m still waiting for the getting wiser part), I’ve found language to be a truly amazing area of study.  The sheer volume of words out there leaves one nonplussed.


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