Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pour these wordjams over your consciousness and see whether anything is altered.

It's about time for another wordjam.
You may or may not go to church. If you are Catholic, the correct rendering of that sentence is, "You must go to Mass." If not, the correct recasting is, "You should enroll in RCIA ASAP."
But we're going to be easy on you and just wordjam for now. You are in your church. There may be an altar. If someone has Dissociative Identity Disorder, there may also be some alters, and if someone has bought clothes that didn't fit, there may be alterations as well. But there is probably an altar.
Altar comes from the Latin altare, meaning a place for burning sacrificial offerings. Alter comes from Latin as well, from alter, meaning "other".
It's hard to learn words by sight without poring over them, but pouring over them won't help, because they'll just get soggy from whatever you're pouring. Pore is a noun and verb. Pore (n.) means a tiny opening or orifice, and one obvious example is where you sweat. That makes a nice memory trick: To pore over something is to look steadily at it or read it carefully. You could sweat over your studies if you really pore over them.
To pour something is to cause it to flow down, as the sky pours rain, but don't get confused by the idea of sweat pouring out of your brow during Dead Week. Imagine the U in pour as the raincatcher at the end of the roof drain line. It spills over the top and pours rain to the ground.
If this is taxing your consciousness, don't go unconscious, but don't be excessively conscientious about it either; it's a matter of grammar, not of conscience.
Conscious, conscientious and conscience are pronounced similarly and spelled similarly and come from the same place. It's tricky, but worthwhile, to remember the difference.
Conscious means aware, having sensory impressions, thinking, noticing and perceiving things. The opposite is unconscious. Consciousness is the opposite of unconsciousness.
Conscience is the moral sensibility, the sense of right and wrong, that which hurts after one does wrong; it is what psychopaths lack and the rest of us struggle with all day and night.
Conscientiousness is the quality of paying a great attention to detail, to every issue, and worrying endlessly about what is right. Someone with too little conscientiousness is a burden on others, annoying, careless, and mean, while someone with too much conscientiousness is slow to get things done, obsessive, fretful, as likely as not to annoy people with unnecessary apologies and efforts to smooth what isn't ruffled -- too much worry. The key is to develop the right amount of conscientiousness.
Some draftees are conscientious objectors, whose consciences will not allow them to kill. A draftee who tries to get out of combat as a conscious objector will make little headway.
Whether or not this serves as a wether for you, it won't help you predict the weather.
Whether is from Old English hwether and means either, in either case, and is used to introduce a clause about unknown facts: "She is a good singer, whether because she practices or because she inherited it." "Whether it rains or not I'm going now." "Go find out whether the show is on." "I wasn't sure whether he was here." "I don't care whether he's here or not, I'm going."
Weather is from the Old English weder and means the meteorological conditions anywhere or everywhere, to wait out a rough period, to wear down as by wind, rain, sun and sleet, and a kind of slope.
Wether is from weder, also Old English, and means what it meant many a century ago: a gelded male sheep. Flocks of sheep are often guided by bellwethers, wethers with bells on their collars.

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