The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

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164                THE HUMANITY OF WORDS
joan. Yes, which one was right?
sh'ann. Joan, let me explain something. Some people would consider five dollars an awful lot of money and others would not. The words "an awful lot" mean different things to different people. Because this is so, these are opinion wordsnot the same for everybody. And we do not use the words "right" and "wrong" about opinions. When do we use the words "right" and "wrong"?
pamie. Only for sentences that sound like facts. Some of them are right and some of them are wrong.
sh'ann. Yes, some of those sentences are true and some of them are false. How can we know the true from the false, Pamie?
famie. We look it up. Or we show it.
sh'ann. That's fine. Ill just ask one more question. And this is very important. Some people think that because we can't prove opinionsand because we can't call them right or wrongthat an opinion isn't as good as a fact. How do you feel about this?
(This puzzles the children, but Jill, who is the eldest, answers.)
jill. We can only have an opinion about people and what they do. People are more important than things.
sh'ann. That's good, Jill. And when you say, "People are more important than things," what is thata fact or an opinion?
jill. It's an opinion. That word "important"that's an adjective.
sh'ann. Yes, a predicate adjective. Good girl.
The older children make their distinctions entirely on the basis of grammar. In this way they differentiate be-