Dr. Goodword’s Language Blog

Archive for November, 2011

The Mega Mickle Mess

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Eileen Opiolka wrote today:

“The reason I wanted to contact you today is the entry mega which refers to the word mickle and gives it as a Scottish word for “much”. Here in Scotland we say “many a mickle makes a muckle”, i.e. mickle means a small amount and muckle, a large amount. I’d be interested to find out what Dr. Goodword thinks.”

“Many thanks for your website, which is always interesting.”

Eileen, many thanks for your appreciation of the website and your interesting question. Here is what I think.

In Scotland today mickle is known mostly from the idiom you quote: “many a mickle makes a muckle”. The idiom was originally: “many a little (also pickle) makes a mickle”. The form “many a mickle makes a muckle” arises from a misapprehension that, rather than being variants of the same word, mickle and muckle have opposite meanings, the former representing a small amount and the latter a large amount. This is a false assumption.

It doesn’t matter mickle since both mickle and muckle are being shamelessly gobbled up by the hounds of history.

Train Milk

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Today’s Marketwatch website carries a story that contains the following sentence:

McGill said, “They’re going to ride the train and milk it for all it’s worth.”

How much is train milk worth these days?

Recovered from a Stroke, Part III

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Sorry to have waited so long for Part III. There will be one more part about what I took away from the experience. I hope I can get around to it more quickly than this.

My physical, occupational, and speech therapy took place at HealthSouth on the Geisinger campus. The physical therapy applied to my right leg while the occupational therapy, to my right arm. The physical and occupational therapy didn’t frighten me; the speech therapy worried me. I had little knowledge of transcortical aphasia, and really had less knowledge of what the therapy did.

I only knew of cases where there had been severe in irreparable damage to the left hemisphere. I was banking on the fact that there had been no damage done to my left hemisphere, but who knows?

Speech therapy turned out to be conceptual, semantic therapy.  There were math problems, such as toting up my checkbook register. I was also presented with puzzles such as we see in newspapers: what is missing from this picture, can you show me the X in that picure, what is out of place in this picture.

I could not write at the beginning, could not sign my name. We had to carry out the payroll through PayPal. Jeffrey attended to that. But after a month with Lisa and Cathy my writing began to improve materially.

I also began walking, though not without the help of a piece of duct tape on my right shoe toe. My right foot was still dragging, so the tape helped me slide it along.

Then a funny thing happened. A blood clot was discovered in my leg and I was sent back to Geisinger Medical Center. There they discovered several small clots in my lungs and put me on a blood thinner. It took five days to get the blood thinner up to acceptable levels.

The strange thing was, while I could not walk unassisted before I left HealthSouth, the second day back at Geisinger, I could–without further physical therapy.  (The use of a couple of my fingers also returned.)

This was comforting news, for it confirmed the idea that there had been no damage to my left hemisphere and, after the swelling caused by the surgery subsided, I would return to my normal state. The next question was:  how much of my normal state would I recover?

Well, to make a long story short, I am now fully recovered. I tried a little outpatient therapy but saw no reason to continue it so long as it was a matter of my brain healing. I forgot a few words that I knew, but then I remember a few I had had difficulty recalling before my surgery. My ability to touch type is back to normal and I’m playing the piano again. Though I forgot a few passages, I don’t know if that was caused by my “bleed” or simply by not practicing for three months.

Apparently, Dr. Darren Jacobs had done an excellent job. Everyone at HealthSouth were wonderful, especially Faith Mummey, who woke me every morning with her laughter. This is not to derogate from the entire staff who attended me cheerfully and efficiently. I only knew their first names and as the memories of my 73 years comes flooding back, I’m afraid they have washed them all away.