I don’t really have time to post. I’m busy reading sentences like, “There is ample clinical research methodology available presently, and such interactions can be reliably described, characterized, and codified in a relatively objective manner,” from page 412 of Textbook of Family and Couples Therapy, by Sholevar and Schwoeri.

There are several reasons that that sentence is an unpleasant read, but none of them are unusual in the books and articles I am reading. I think this kind of writing comes from a frustrated desire to have one’s field recognized as “real science.” Many important and useful ideas have been garbled by this desire.

What grabbed my attention here, though, was the use of the word “presently.” I read that and thought, can we really have a word that means both “soon” and “now”? Yes, we can, of course, but it’s a funny thing to do. When I was learning Mandarin by the Learnables method, where you just listen and look at pictures, I was unable to distinguish between the words for “on top of” and “underneath.” I made a big joke out of that. If you’re going to have a homonym in your language, don’t use it for two such closely related but different concepts! It would be like having the same word for up and down.

To a Mandarin speaker, though, the words for “on top of” and “underneath” sound quite different. “Presently” is even worse than a homonym for closely related but very different concepts. It’s the exact same word for them. Silly.

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