Thursday, December 22, 2016

Words as money

“Money,” Wallace Stevens says, “is a kind of poetry.” Words and sentences, Harry R. Warfel says, are a kind of money. A surprising passage in a book about the place of grammar in education:

Language is the coin of the realm of thought. Like money, words and sentences interchange among people in the life processes of society. Just as the fiscal operations of a nation are intricate and infinitely complicated and yet seemingly simple to the child that exchanges a nickel for a candy bar, so the transfer of a few words — like “I love you” — produces a simple yet immense effect. That effect arises not merely from a momentary vocal noise or written scrawl but from a complexity of present and past experiences. Its very utterance portends a future of untold consequences of shared joys, pains, sorrows, griefs, and hopes.

Who Killed Grammar? (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1952).
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Money as poetry : The Warfel Law of Divided Usage

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