The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Monday, January 19, 2004

THE CEASED AMONG US: The other thing I’ve been thinking about is why we call dead people “the late.” They are not late; they are not picking up the kids at school and running a little late or got caught in traffic or had to go to the dentist for some work on a crown and couldn’t get here on time. The condition of being late implies the ability to be on time, of being on schedule, and thereby taking an active part in the life of the community, which, let’s face it, is something the people we usually describe as “late” are no longer capable of. They do not care if they are or are not on time, since time no longer has any meaning for them, nor do they care about caring or not caring or even ruffling our sensibilities by being late, as they are beyond caring, having shuffled off this mortal coil and passed into the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns (like that? Shakespeare references, no less, and you thought I was just ranting here) without their luggage or the frequent flyer miles either. In short, they are not “late,” they are dead.

The other thing I don’t get is why we called the dead deceased. Usually the de- prefix means that the opposite of the root word is taking place, i. e., detrain, derail, deracinate, so on and so forth. So wouldn’t it make more sense if we referred to the dead as the ceased, as in the ceased Bob Hope?


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home