Just Wanna Know

Revolutionary Propaganda Organ

Friday, January 06, 2006


From the text of the statement that biology teachers in Dover, Penn., are no longer required to read prior to any class that discussed evolution:

"The reference book, 'Of Pandas and People,' (sic) is available in the library along with other resources for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what intelligent design actually involves."

In this case, and I think most of the time when Americans use the word "actually," it smacks of conspiracy-theory, anti-intellectual, defensive posturing. Why is this the case? "What's actually going on?" "Are you actually going to do that?" "It's actually more complicated than that.

Say it with an American accent and you're sure to offend my ears. Say it with a British accent, and it turns into a self-deprecating, apologetic whine, as in the title of the film Love, actually. "Actually, I'm no longer working there." This may have to do with the trend that Americans place the word between the subject and the verb (using it as a true adverb), while the British tend to (over)use it as a transition.

The French word actuellement doesn't really fit here, since it is a false friend and actually means "currently" or "at present."

One of my friends had a favorite Arabic word, Haqiqa, which means "reality" and is kind of fun to say. The phrase "f'il-Haqiqa" is roughly equivalent to the American version, literally meaning "in reality."

The root is H-q-q. "Al-Haqq" is one of the names of God, "The Truth" or "The Only Reality." On March 22, 922, the Persian Muslim mystic and philosopher al-Hallaj was executed when he said "Ana al-Haqq." This was taken to be a heretical claim by al-Hallaj that he was God.

Rather, I understand, he was making the very esoteric observation that, if nothing exists apart from God, then his individual identity was completely destroyed and he considered himself to be completely consumed by God and into God. Actually.


At 1:03 PM, Blogger Jamie Brandon said...

Great analysis, actually (read with a British emphasis).

At 1:06 PM, Blogger John Schaefer said...

Yes, I say, rather old boy. Hear hear!


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