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Archive for March, 2011

Some will argue that societies are built upon languages and that language is the cement of a society. It can also be argued that language emerged from the frame of the society. Whether one or the other is correct, nobody knows yet. However for those supposing that language cements societies; they believe that by changing the language they will be able to change the world around them.

Feminists have been fighting long and hard to introduce gender-neutral or feminine words to replace gender-given (often masculine) nouns and adjectives in the hope that by changing vocabulary they will be able to change attitudes.

Today we can scoff at some of those modern feminists’ fights, qualifying their actions of being ‘outdated’ and ‘useless’. But while we feel that the fight has been won, and that equality has already been attained, it’s easy to forget that a hundred years ago women believed that it was worth dying to get the right of vote. We’ve only recently reached that so-called equality and solely thanks to our mothers and grand-mothers’ courage.

And when it’s becoming clearer and clearer that a more insidious sexism is making its way back, vigilance is key. Personally I think that instead of wasting all that energy trying to change the way people use words, the answer lies in the hands of the education system – whomever hands it is: the headteacher’s or the headmistress’…

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I have many favourite places. Having moved houses, regions, and schools extensively since I was born means I have left many kind memories of places I loved behind me. But when I close my eyes I only see one.

I remember first a feeling of heat. The hot summer air surrounds me like a burning veil. It carries a delicate smell of dry grass, pungent thyme, aromatic rosemary and sweet lavender, and from far away the acrid smoke of a bush fire. I am lying on a mattress of short-cut grass that slightly scratches my bare legs and arms. I can also smell the olive trees nearby and the tenuous fragrance of the lemon trees farther away.

The air is thrilling with the continuous chirping of the crickets. Wrapped in the noisy silence of Nature, I can also hear the hard-working ants and the beetles crawling between the sharp blades of grass beneath my head. The air is too hot for birds, hidden in their nests, they are waiting for the cool evening air to free them. The chimes of bells from the village church below reaches me, carried away by the wind. I am too far from the house to hear the voices of my family. At that time of the day, grown-ups are digesting their gargantuan lunch in the shadow and coolness of their bedrooms. It is the time when children are left alone, free from the careful watch of the elders.

I open my eyes and the white brightness of the sun is blinding me for a few seconds. The air above me is buzzing with brightly-coloured butterflies. A couple of dragonflies – elegant and ruthless killers – glide in complicated arabesques. A ladybird lands on my right hand. I am looking at her and raising the finger high in the sky I lead her to the sun. Far away above my head, very high in the sky, white fluffy clouds are racing each others. Around me the steep hills look dry and slightly hazy in the heat. I can see the observatory at the top of the highest one. Behind me the vineyard flanked by two peach trees seem immutable. Olive trees with their silver leaves are host of thousands of crawling creatures.

In my favourite place time doesn’t matter and I’m staying there forever, as immutable as the twisted and bent olive trees around me.

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