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geekery to suit your modest household budget

"Now I have named you and now I have tamed you, and now it is time to die."

I began very young to have a distinct love of words. As a child, words were to me a powerful and a dangerous tool, a thing by which one could control the world and bend it to one's will. I could not explain where I got this particular conception of the world, only that, when I saw it expressed in other places by other people, something in me immediately recognized the shared sentiment.

The quote above is from a children's book I have not seen or read in years. I know that it features a dragon with no name. In the world of the story, this rendered the dragon immortal, because even a great dragonslayer could not kill a dragon without knowing its name. The resolution of course comes when a young woman picks up a sword and names the dragon herself: the name gives her, an unimportant child, more power over a monster than anyone else around her. I cannot remember anything else about this book other than the fact that in reading those words (and I know that they are probably now as much a product of my own psyche as that of the original author's text) I finally was able to express something about my own childish Weltanschauung that remains with me to this day.

Words control the world. Know the right words to say and you will always be safe. They are not to be wielded against the weak, but as weapons of honor and skill and practice. Words will kill monsters. Words will build worlds.

About the journal title...
das Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz is, at 63 letters, the longest consistently used German word, for now. German has a tendency of creating large compound words to suit whatever occasion is to hand, but most of these one-shots will never see the inside of a dictionary. However, as this one is part of legal vocabulary now, it will probably be with us for quite some time. It translates roughly as 'Law for the regulation of assignment(s) for the oversight duties of the labeling of beef.' It trumps the most commonly held longest English word 'antidisestablishtmentarianis' by 35 letters, but at the same time it's distinctly more concise than the English phrase of the same meaning.

Why is it the title of my journal, which has distinctly little to do with beef? Because I like German, and I've been asked before but could never remember the stupid word. Also, it contains two instances of the letter ü, which is really fun to say, and highlights the smart thing that German does when naming meat: "Name of animal" +"meat"= "Name of meat from that animal." There is no pig/pork, cow/beef, calf/veal idiotic distinction. If you know the name of farm animals, you can order at an upscale restaurant. That, my friends, is an internally consistent system.

If you want to understand English, learn German. This will first make you understand the origins and meanings of many words: "dale", which is really only used in the English phrase, "over hill and dale", is a kissing cousin of the modern German word "Tal", which means "valley." Suddenly the phrase becomes clearer, oder? Both languages will also give you a far better understanding of grammatical structure than one can speaking modern English as one's mother tongue: those who speak German do not confuse 'Who' and 'whom,' because it's a mistake that would render many German sentences incomprehensible.

If anything, however, this language will make you sing hosannas of praise to whichever smartypants it was that rid English of the concept of grammatical gender.