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  • If you hold your phone camera up to this QR code it takes you to a website to register to vote. That's pretty cool.

  • I like this shirt, but I'm gonna change into my standard two button polo. Ah, yes. There's the comfort of familiarity. Good morning Hank,

  • it's Tuesday.

  • So I've been thinking recently about how weird English is -

  • especially when it comes to prepositions. Like we use in, on, and at as location related prepositions

  • which is just so weird.

  • The general idea is that in is for big places and on is for smaller places and at is for extremely specific places.

  • So you live in a country, but on a street and at a particular address, which is a lot to remember

  • but it's even more complicated than that because for instance one lives in a house or apartment because you're ostensibly

  • surrounded by it or inside of it.

  • But you also live at home unless you live at school in a dorm room on a campus. Similarly

  • you can be both at the airport and in the airport, but you can't be on the airport

  • unless you're like Godzilla standing on the airport. And you can be in the airplane or on the airplane

  • but you can't be at the airplane,

  • Although you can be at the gate. And even though in is supposed to be for large places

  • you can be in your airplane seat,

  • which is one of the smallest places in the known universe.

  • And to make it worse all these words have other meanings and shades of meaning, like in can refer to a change of state - you

  • break something in half.

  • But it's mostly used to describe being within or inside something. On

  • generally means on top of something, hence being in a car but on a motorcycle.

  • But on can also be used to describe the state of something, for instance

  • you can be in a car that is on fire, although I don't recommend it.

  • Meanwhile something that happens to my body superficially usually uses on. I was tapped on the shoulder.

  • Whereas something that happens beneath the skin usually uses in. I was shot in the shoulder.

  • But even those incredibly complicated and obscure rules sometimes don't apply, see for instance being slapped in the face.

  • This is an altogether terrible system for expressing ideas

  • But generally I don't notice it because I grew up speaking English and its labyrinthine usage seems completely normal to me.

  • I only noticed preposition choice when it feels wrong to me, like one that's always bothered me is "on the phone."

  • Why do we say on the phone to mean not that we're standing on our phones, but that we're using them?

  • On the phone used to mean participating in a phone call,

  • But these days there are all sorts of ways to be on your phone.

  • You can be texting on your phone or looking at Instagram on your phone or playing Fortnite on your phone or whatever.

  • But I would argue that no matter what you're doing on your phone, you're not really on the phone.

  • You're in the phone. When I'm using my phone

  • I'm not really in whatever physical space I happen to be occupying and I'm not really with whatever physical people I'm near.

  • I'm in the phone with people who are also in their phones. And when I exit my phone and enter physical space it doesn't feel

  • Like I'm getting off my phone, it feels like I'm getting out of it.

  • And this was the case for me long before my phone contained so many distractions

  • And delights and horrors. Like when I was a kid and I would talk on the phone to friends

  • I always felt like I was not in my house or in my room,

  • but I was in some

  • disembodied space with the person I was talking to. But now because there's so much more to do in my phone and also because there's

  • So many more people in that disembodied space, being in my phone feels thrilling and terrifying

  • and overwhelming and most of all, weird. Like I'm not sure of the language to describe it - not only which

  • prepositions to use but also which adjectives which nouns. I don't know if understanding leads to language or language leads to

  • understanding, but when it comes to life in my phone, I don't have adequate understanding or adequate language.

  • All I know is that life on my phone feels much more like being in a city than being on an island. Hank,

  • I'll see you not in a week or at noon but on Friday.

If you hold your phone camera up to this QR code it takes you to a website to register to vote. That's pretty cool.

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A2 airplane airport language instance describe adequate

On Prepositions

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/04/07
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