This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Saturday Rave: The Hare and The Tortoise by Aesop.

This is the story where the boastful hare is challenged to a race by the tortoise, but the hare accidentally falls asleep (twice) and so the tortoise gets to the finishing line first.

The Tortoise and the Hare, by Arthur Rackham
This picture was drawn by Arthur Rackham.

There are two interesting things about this story: firstly, it's nice (especially for children) that the slow, small, weak one comes out on top for once.

Secondly, the hero, the tortoise, is not only deeply dull but bonkers with it. Things turn out well as it happens, but the tortoise really does nothing to earn his victory except plod on.

I've known this story for decades and I'm still trying to work out if the tortoise is any more than an idiot who gets lucky.

Zeno's 'hare and tortoise' paradox proves that it's impossible for the hare to win the race. I can't say I understand it, but will just point out that, actually, the tortoise can and in fact did win the race.

So there.

Word To Use Today: tortoise. This word comes from the French tortue, a word influenced by the Latin word tortus, which means twisted. The source was originally the Late Latin tartarucha, which means coming from Tartarus, the place of punishment under the underworld, from the belief that tortoises come from there.

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