Today, I want to talk about words and their meanings.
A fourth-grade teacher is reading the story of “Sleeping Beauty” to her class. She comes to the section in which the villainess decides to poison a spindle with a sleeping potion.
The teacher reads:
“Ha. Ha,” said the evil witch. “The princess will fall into a deep sleep with just the tiniest prick.”The class, naturally, erupts in laughter. You and I would, too.
The teacher goes to great pains to explain to her students that, in old-fashioned English, “prick” means a small puncture by a needle. The students nod their heads, seemingly in understanding, so the teacher continues reading until she comes to:
And sure enough, the poisoned needle did its work. Sleeping Beauty didn’t even feel the small prick.The next day, the teacher is called into the principal’s office because of a parent’s complaint that she used inappropriate language in class.
At that point, a practical teacher would think long and hard about her precious "prick," and emend the text. She’d change the word to “puncture.” End of story.
But a teacher who was stubborn would say: “Look, this is perfectly acceptable English. In order to be educated, the students have to understand that common words can have different meanings in different contexts. That story has always said ‘prick,’ and I’m going to continue to use it.”
Not a good strategy, right?
So, scientists: Find another fucking word for “theory.”
(H/T to Evo and SI)