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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Sunday, November 20, 2005


A flash of unbelief slapped my conscious mind like a dirty mop slurping away at the grime on the after hours floor of a busy greasy spoon restaurant. The cause of this mental incredulity was a short gaze into one of my favorite sources of language unit explanation – my dictionary. The word that inspired such puzzlement was vague. The definition was clear, even though it was stated as being unclear, but the word itself was vague.

I cannot deny that I slightly revel in units of discourse that have multiple meanings and subtle nuances hidden away in those. Even though I do not think that a person can slightly revel in anything, since reveling seems to be one of those words that would be all the way or nothing.

Vague is the opposite kind of word and not clear at all - but I view it as clear in its un-clarity and it appeared to me impossible or at least improbable that a superior version of this word could exist. But there it was in black and very light gray – vaguer. I’m not even sure I’ve seen it used in a sentence, other than in a defining book.

Is it really possible to get vaguer than vague? I guess a possible scenario would be to have a teenager giving a vague excuse as to why they were late for curfew – then a second person from that same age group came home giving even less clear reasons for the same offense – the second one could be considered vaguer.

The real kicker though was the fact that right there next to vaguer was its superior cousin – vaguest. If faced with the previous scenario and you had more than three offspring, a real blizzard of vagueness is possible – at the very least, a pretty substantial snow job could appear. Then because of all the snow, the vaguest one of all would be very hard to spot.

How could you quantitatively determine the vaguest of all – except in a study group of a known size? But that would only be a people study, how about their questions or replies? They would have to be in written form and then compared. A vague scale would be needed for a true measurement, but I don’t even vaguely remember hearing of one. Even if one was found, it would still be a vague evaluation and therefore indeterminate.

All this caused the question to stomp across my brain – why are people vague anyway? Two main answers came to me. One, folks are vague because they don’t know the answer and are trying to hide their ignorance – or maybe they don’t even know what the question means. I think I have been there – that sounds vaguely familiar.

The second answer would be that they are trying to hide – or evade – the truth. Not wanting to outright lie, they distract by answering any question with another question. The expression “beating around the bush” also comes to mind.

A friend of mine suggested a third answer. Be vague to create a mental dissonance, this creating curiosity, prodding the persons involved to search for the answer themselves and by this promote learning. I slightly understand this in a vague sort of way.

Another question sprang to my mental consciousness – could a person be vague about their vagueness? I’m not too clear on this one, but if one is too vague in their vagueness, nobody would know what they were being vague about.

I’m so glad that all my sins and wrongdoings were not vaguely just pushed into the background, but they were clearly and completely forgiven by God through the sacrifice Jesus made. ec


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I haven't the vaguest notion of what you are talking about. That's how I've heard it used, but I can't say that I can recall hearing vaguer.

I used to live in Clearwater, Ontario until it was amalgamated into Sarnia.

11/20/2005 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...


11/21/2005 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger mreddie said...

AC - This Clearwater is a small place and we live on the edges of that, but they do have a post office and that's where we get our mail.

Jennifer - Thanks for the :)

11/21/2005 09:12:00 AM  

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