nications will no longer be hinderedrnby national and linguistic differences,rnwhich will give way to a universal andrnscientific language, with its formulas instantlyrnrecognized, accepted, and usedrnby everyone. H2O is, of course, more scientificrnand more categorical than “water”;rnmoreover, it indicates a scientificallyrnfixed reality, with its potentiality ofrnuniversality. Yet H2O has two shortcomingsrnthat are inescapable. One is that itrnrefers to a condition which is abstractrnand which in reality does not exist, to arnsubstance that consists of absolutelyrnnothing but hydrogen and oxygen. Yetrnthat is a desideratum (to be sure, arndesideratum with all kinds of practicalrnresults) because, no matter how assiduousrnthe process of its distillafion, a 100rnpercent (and not a 99.9999 percent)rnH2O does not and cannot exist. Andrnmore important is the condition thatrn”water,” while less precise, is morerntelling than H2O, because “water” (likern”eau,” “acqua,” “agua,” “Wasser,” “viz”)rnsounds like water, while H2O does not.rnMore telling, because of its additionalrnmeaning. For words are not the symbolsrnoi things: They are symbols of meanings.rnAnd the meaning of meaning is that itrncarries our minds not only deeper, butrnfurther. Meaning is not mechanical orrndetermined; it is spiritual and teleological.rnIt is no longer sufficient for us to recallrnthat the Greek word “logos” meansrnboth “word” and “reason.” We may havernto understand that our recognifion of thernword as a symbol of meaning amounts tornan enrichment of our reasoning.rnAllow me to carry this argument a lit-rnLIBERAL ARTSrnLOVE ISA MANYSPLENDOREDrnTHINGrn”Loving Couples Wanted To HomernTest An Alternative Condom Design.rnEarn up to $100 by participating in arnstudy of a different condom designrnand material. Couples must be:rnMale partner age 18+; Female partnerrnage 18-45; Willing to report on 8rncondom uses.”rn—from an advertisement in thernRice Thresher, the official studentrnnewspaper of Rice Universityrntie further. Yes, we think in words—butrnnot only because of their sounds. Yes,rnwords may carry a sense of music, whichrnis, of course, a (if not the) fundamentalrnelement of poetry. But there is evenrnmore to them. When I hear (or read)rn”multitudinous seas incarnadine,” therngrandeur of the music of those words carriesrnwith it a (perhaps smaller but still existent)rnsense of sight: Those oceanicrnwords, with their wonderfully majesticrnswells, rise up not only in my ears but beforernthe very eyes of my mind. Conversely,rnwhen two or three bars of music,rna snatch of a musical “phrase,” keepsrnhumming in my ears, I do not necessarilyrnsee their visual notation; I do not associaternthem with the score with its keysrnand staves. But when I hear a sequencernof words, their written or printed shapernintrudes in my mind somehow.rnI have often thought that there is a profoundrn—and sometimes mysterious—relationshiprnnot only between words andrntheir sounds but between words andrntheir shapes. “Egg” is not the most beautifiilrnbut perhaps the most perfect of Englishrnwords, because it not only soundsrnlike an egg but also looks like one. “Awkward,”rntoo, sounds as well as looks awkward.rnThis is so for certain names, too:rnConsider a name like Balzac. Thinkingrnof the meaning of words and their visualrnshapes, we must consider that sight isrnthe most intellectual of all of our senses;rnthat we experience the world — and itsrnwords—not only from the outside in butrnfrom the inside out; that there is more tornseeing than what meets the eye, becausernseeing is not only inseparable from but simultaneousrnwith (that is, occurring togetherrnwith) our imagination: not merelyrna reaction to stimuli but a creative act.rnAll of this is —or ought to be —obvious.rnIt also relates to the condition thatrnall human communications are necessarilyrnimprecise and imperfect—whereinrnresides much of their meaning, andrnalso their charm. The dictionary tells usrnthat the equivalent of the English “honest”rnis the French “honnete.” But theyrnare not equivalent. Despite their commonrnLatin source {“honor, honoris”),rnthrough history their meanings have become,rnhowever slightiy, different: “Honneternhomme” is not the same as “an honestrnman,” and it is the very knowledge ofrnsuch differences that enriches the charmrnof our knowing another language, of understandingrnanother people. But let mernagain carry this a little frirther. We mayrnlisten to a foreign language that we dornnot understand, and yet it may soundrnbeautiful. Looking at an unknown language,rnit is not likely that we will find itrnbeautiful. “Honest” and “honnete” mayrneven sound alike, but not only are theirrnmeanings slightly different, they look different,rntoo. (“Honest” does not onlyrnsound “honest,” it looks honest.) Another,rnvulgar example: Were a German,rnreading an English text, to pronouncern”sheet” as “sh–” we would find that frinny;rnbut then the German word “Scheiss”rnis also thicker than “sh–,” not only inrnsound but also in sight.rnI was reading an English novel inrnwhich one of the main women isrn”Hyacinth,” an accomplished and elegantrnlady. Her name does not particularlyrnappeal to me, perhaps because it is outdatedrn—anyhow. Hyacinth may lookrnbetter than it soimds (long-legged, earlysummer,rna pale beauty even when inrnfloribus). But what suddenly occurred tornme —and I do not know why—is whatrnwould happen if Hyacinth were not onlyrnfranslated or pronounced but fransliteratedrninto my native Hungarian language.rnIf a Hungarian who does not know Englishrnwere to ask: Wliat does this namernmean? I would say the Himgarian wordrnfor the flower: “fdcint.” If he were to ask:rnHow does this name soimd? I would sayrn”Hyacinth,” with an English pronunciation,rnnot with an enforced Hungarianrnstress: This may strike my Hungarianrnconversant as a little odd, but I could assurernhim that it is not odd in English.rnBut if he then were to write that pronunciationrndown, in Hungarian, there wouldrnbe plenty of trouble. For “hdj-szint,” inrnHungarian, is a very ugly word, or compoundrnof two words, both in their meaningrnand in their shape: “hdf meaningrnsuet or lard, repulsive fat, and “szinf eitherrn”level” or the accusative of “color.”rnIn sum: lard-colored, or something likernthat.rnWithin the constraints of our alphabet,rnof course. The Cyrillic alphabetrntransliterates. While “Churchill” has arnwonderful shape in English, it looks terriblernwhen rendered in Russian, andrneven worse when re-transliterated:rn”Tcher-Tchil,” as if it were the name of arnCaucasian bandit. Terrible to me, ofrncourse. Were Russian my native language,rnwould it look terrible to me?rnProbably not. I think that a Russian whorndoes not know English would see (andrnperhaps even hear) that word differenflyrnfrom a Russian who knows English: Tornthe latter, “Churchill” would still bern44/CHRONiCLESrnrnrn