Stream of Consciousness Saturday 27/06/2015

socs-badge

The prompt Linda chose for this week is: “some or sum”.

As a stand-alone word, some is used mostly to signify an unspecified number, person or thing. Depending on its context and the extent to which it is stressed, it can imply a large number (been blogging for some years now) or a small number (I like some blogs, but by no means all); it can express admiration (that’s some house you have there) or its opposite (some help that turned out to be!). But through all its meanings and usages it is, at best, imprecise.

As a suffix, it takes on new shades of meaning and loses its imprecision:

  • it extends a verb to give an adjective that is qualitatively distinct from -ful and -less. Compare awesome with awful, tiresome with tireless (per dictionary.com – word-forming element used in making adjectives from nouns or adjectives (and sometimes verbs) and meaning “tending to; causing; to a considerable degree,” from Old English -sum, identical with som. Cf. Old Frisian -sum, German -sam, Old Norse -samr; also related to same).
  • it converts an ordinal number  to signify a group with a specified number of members. Threesome, foursome etc.  (per dictionary.com – Originally a separate word used with the genitive plural (e.g. sixa sum “six-some”); the inflection disappeared in Middle English and the pronoun was absorbed. Use of some with a number meaning “approximately” also was in Old English.)
  • in scientific and medical language, it combines with a root to produce a compound noun that describes a portion of a body, particle or cell, e.g. chromosome (from Greek soma – body)

Daily writing tips has an interesting annotated list of “-some” adjectives here, of which my favourite entry, by a country mile, is “handsome“. It seems that the word originated in Middle English when hand, the word for the extension of the arm, was attached to some to mean “easy to use.” The meaning was extended to “appropriate,” and from there is wasn’t too much of a leap to the sense of “attractive.” Morewords.com offers the following handsome set of definitions (or should that be set of “handsome” definitions?) here:

  • Dexterous; skillful; handy; ready; convenient; — applied to things as persons.
  • Agreeable to the eye or to correct taste; having a pleasing appearance or expression; attractive; having symmetry and dignity; comely; — expressing more than pretty, and less than beautiful; as, a handsome man or woman; a handsome garment, house, tree, horse.
  • Suitable or fit in action; marked with propriety and ease; graceful; becoming; appropriate; as, a handsome style, etc.
  • Evincing a becoming generosity or nobleness of character; liberal; generous.
  • Ample; moderately large.

As we say in the part of England I was born and raised, “Pick the bones out of that, my handsome.”

Some do, anyway.


This is my offering to Stream of Consciousness Saturday. The prompt word is ‘some/sum’.

Here are the rules:

  1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.
  2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.
  3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” or “Begin with the word ‘The’.”
  4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments, for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top.
  5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.
  6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!
  7. Have fun!

14 comments

  1. herheadache

    I am not so keen about sums because I have never been very good at math or numbers.
    🙂
    I do love learning about words and so I enjoyed the information you gathered in this post.
    Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. loricarlson66

    Wonderful post, Keith… I love discovering where words come from and their uses! These delighted me 🙂 Have a blessed weekend!

    Liked by 1 person