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A koan is a riddle that aspiring students of Zen Buddhism should solve. The students are given a series of koans which constitute the syllabus. These koans appear completely illogical and paradoxical and therefore impossible to resolve, i.e., if the student applies his mind to resolve the koan. As long as the student is using his intellectual brilliance and thinking horsepower to resolve the koan, so long will he fail to make sense of the illogical paradox. When the student solves the koan, it ceases to be a paradoxical, illogical riddle and becomes a profound statement of an aspect of…

Who is the real hero/protagonist in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien?

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Although J.R.R. Tolkien did not expressly identify a protagonist for his trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, I do believe a character towers over everyone else in the book and can be said to be the overarching protagonist. Read on to know I am referring to whom.

According to Merriam-Webster, the protagonist is one who is the “the principal character in a literary work (such as a drama or story)” or “the leading actor or principal character in a television show, movie, book, etc.” …

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If you encounter a big, bad wolf what would you scream? — ‘A big, bad wolf!’ But why not ‘A bad, big wolf’? This is because of a convention called ‘ablaut reduplication.’

‘Reduplication’ refers to the repeating of a word or pairing of a word with a similar sounding word.

Ablaut reduplication states that in a list of words, the interior vowel determines the order of those words. The high vowel ‘i’ must lead the low vowels ‘a’ and ‘o.’

If there are 3 words, then the order must be i-a-o. If there are 2 words, then ‘i’ leads and…

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As I stepped into the hallowed grounds of the college hostel where I had stayed for 3 years when studying for my under graduation since 20 years before, I thought that it had not changed one bit. The hostel comprised many U-shaped blocks of 3 stories spread across a vast acreage. The open space was occupied by a well-tended garden with concrete pavements intersecting the grass beds and canopied by tall coconut trees with cement benches in their shades on which no student sat for obvious reasons. The garden was maintained by the students themselves since it was part of…

Origin, evolution, and metamorphosis of language and its weaponization in the corporate world

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“We’re facing challenges in organizing the client deliverable,” my manager chanted in a flat and unemotional tone. He threw his arms out as if to figuratively demonstrate the extent of the “challenges.” He made his message clear and that was we in the meeting are guilty. We have let down our manager. However, we debated in our minds why our manager refused to see the obvious. Our manager’s haste to score ignored the pitfalls of shortcuts. My erstwhile colleague raised the subject with us and despite our…

The literati shouldn’t be apologetic about prose for prose too, like poetry, can string the best words in the best order

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As darkness threatened to take the dale under its downy plumes anytime, I sat on the easy chair in my portico looking at the sylvan glade whose lush green was commingling with the crepuscular gray. My little home sits on the footsteps of a knoll hard by a precipitous gorge which rolls down further and unfolds into an expansive and lush woods. Further up, the verdure climbs over the banks of a steep hill where billows of fog swaddles…

Express Yourself

Etymology reveals why the word ‘literally’ is so annoying (among other things)

Closeup of glasses on a page scribbled with words.
Closeup of glasses on a page scribbled with words.
Photo: Janaka Dharmasena/EyeEm/Getty Images

Etymology studies the history of words by tracing their evolution from the earliest occurrences and their transmissions across languages and by analyzing their components and cognates. At first glance, etymology appears a dreary science practiced by bespectacled, doleful etymologists in dingy, stifling rooms, burying their erudite heads into dusty books and eviscerating the hapless corpora. However, this view is far from the truth. Even for people who are not professionally linked to this field, etymology is fascinating and entertaining.

A group of people — a subculture, a community, a civilization — invents words, nurtures them, transforms them, and discards them…

A clique of classic macroeconomic binaries — boom vs. recession, supply vs. demand, expansion vs. contraction –, substantiated by COVID-19, clouds the inflation-deflation outlook

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Executive summary

India recorded a -3.21% WPI in May raising the specter of deflation and demanding the attention of the policy makers

The macroeconomic outlook appears nebulous in light of COVID-19 and its first- and second-order effects

Manifold factors subject the inflation-deflation forecast to divergent pulls and pressures

Connecting the micro and macro dots across the economic landscape projects a moderate return to inflation

After a data hiatus in April, India has reported a deflation of 3.21% in May in Wholesale Price Index (WPI). This contraction is augmented by a host of factors such as low crude prices, consumption collapse, demand contraction…

All vocations suffer an identity crisis some time, but the editorial profession today suffers it in its own way. An identity-challenged editor, at a publisher or a newspaper, can be forgiven his waxing confusion over the waning clarity in professional boundaries. He often ruminates and asks himself, “Who am I? What is my work?” One who is a stranger to the publishing business, perhaps a reader, knows not how many people toil to oil the publishing process to put that book in one’s hands. Out of them, the most misery is apportioned to those, excepting the author, that wring the…

Sheds a glassy tear,
grass blade bent by dangling dew
and lashes back — all still.

One dewdrop on a
grass blade; within one, many
tiny drops of dew.

Ladybug loiters
on the sheath; which blade of grass
to take, it knows not!

Ferns, vines, shoots, creepers.
Sunlight sparkles on zephyr.
Serpent sprawls on stone.

Garden green wakes up,
earth brown shudders — a bitten
apple rolls away.


On literature, books, and English

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