The Precision of Simplicity

I absolutely love precision of language.  Few things give me quite the same pleasurable thrill as using the exact right word.  Our language is glorious, and I glory in it; I only regret that there are so many words I don't know (over 950,000, as estimated by a Very Accurate Internet Quiz).

But then my child started asking questions.  And I began to internalize just how screwed up our language is, and how near-impossible to learn.

In the beginning it was no big deal.

"Dat!" he would say, pointing imperiously at some object.

"What's that?  That is a juniper bush," I would answer.  And he was content.

But soon he was pointing at everything, demanding to know, "Dat!" and I realized that I don't always know the exact label for everything- which is a problem because why does Mommy get so specific about some things but not others?  What is the significance?
And so I began generalizing.

"That's a bush.  That's a different bush.  That is yet another bush."

Of course, I am also fully cognizant of the fact that it must be confusing as hell for someone learning a language to come face-to-face with the fact that all of these things which are so obviously different have the same name.  Which is why, sometimes, if I'm not feeling too beaten-down by his unending font of curiosity, I'll even add, "It's a prickly bush."

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