What Are People Doing?

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Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near-forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “One of the most delightful screen romances ever produced will be at the Coliseum Theatre on Friday” and, “Mrs. H.W. Salmon and two little daughters will be traveling to St. Louis for two months.” In this series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

“Why do we hesitate to swell our words to meet our needs?” asked a writer for the September 27, 1919 edition of the Town Crier. “It is a nonsense question. There is no reason. We are simply lazy – too lazy to make ourselves comfortable. We let our vocabularies be limited, and get along rawly without the refinements of human intercourse, without refinements in our own thoughts; for thoughts are almost as dependent on words as words are on thoughts.” The writer continues in the piece entitled “On Enlarging One’s Vocabulary,” “For example, all exasperations we lump together as ‘aggravating,’ not considering whether they may not rather be displeasing, annoying, offensive, irritating, or even maddening…Like the bad cook, we seize the frying pan whenever we need to fry, broil, roast, or stew, and then wonder why all our dishes taste alike.” The writer has some suggestions. “Enlarge the vocabulary…I know that when we use a word for the first time we are startled, as if a firecracker went off in our neighborhood. We look about hastily to see if anyone has noticed. But finding that no one has, we may be emboldened.”

Many feel emboldened when they head off to college. It’s a new chapter in their lives. Their worlds are expanding. Their vocabulary is enlarging with text books stacked high in their dormitories. But does college still work? Can a college education today provide real opportunity to young Americans seeking to improve their station in life, or is the system designed only to protect the privileged and leave everyone else behind? Paul Tough will explore the landscape of higher education on Town Hall’s stage on October 4.

You can learn more about the event here.

As always, tickets are FREE for anyone 22 and under. Another word for FREE is COMPLIMENTARY.

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