You know, a musical instrument. It’s very powerful.”
“Is it because it’s small?” asked the boy.
“I don’t know, but it’s a viola.”
In this context, what sounds like a rather mild objection sounds strange, if not preposterous. And of course, the kid’s parents must also be convinced that “small,” or “tiny,” anything is good for them, but they don’t notice their kid talking like this. (If they had noticed, they probably wouldn’t have thought anything was odd about a “violin in.” But they didn’t.)
And yet, at this point, the kids are really doing no harm at all. They’re just being polite to each other, and expressing a common sense about all this new “technology.”
When I hear young people using the word “violin” to describe some new musical instrument, as a noun, it’s usually in terms of it being small. And I’ve never noticed anything that indicates this in their use of the word as a verb.
So if I’m wrong — I really am a philistine about “violin” that I can’t help thinking of it as an adjective, in a way — I’m sorry, but I’m also sorry that my children sound like they’re trying to be rude. Just saying.
But I think we can at least take a step back, and be polite about it. Or at least say, “You know, it has pretty big sounds.”
If we can agree that “violin” might have been an adjective that had existed and existed as a noun, and didn’t have any phonetic associations, that’d be helpful. If we can agree that the kids are actually trying to do something nice for me, that’s more helpful.
So, in summary:
What word sounds like a noun?
What word sounds like a verb?
What sound sounds like a verb?
Then the word that sounds like a noun: “violin.”
In a rare appearance on Fox News in 2010, then-candidate Obama described the rise of Islamic radicalism to describe a new set of challenges that had only been made more severe by globalization.
“This is the defining struggle of our time,” he said, according to a clip of his remarks that was aired on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor.”
The “global” in that expression was an
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