When you are a kid and can’t read, learning words is a matter of matching what you hear with what you know and figuring out meaning. Or else you just try to match the sound and figure it out as you go along. As a parent, you want to help your kid learn the language, and the colloquialisms and history along the way. And even if you do your best, sometimes it breaks down. Here’s an example:
When I was young my father said to me:
“Knowledge is Power….Francis Bacon”
I understood it as “Knowledge is power, France is Bacon”.
For more than a decade I wondered over the meaning of the second part and what was the surreal linkage between the two? If I said the quote to someone, “Knowledge is power, France is Bacon” they nodded knowingly. Or someone might say, “Knowledge is power” and I’d finish the quote “France is Bacon” and they wouldn’t look at me like I’d said something very odd but thoughtfully agree. I did ask a teacher what did “Knowledge is power, France is bacon” mean and got a full 10 minute explanation of the Knowledge is power bit but nothing on “France is bacon”. When I prompted further explanation by saying “France is Bacon?” in a questioning tone I just got a “yes”. at 12 I didn’t have the confidence to press it further. I just accepted it as something I’d never understand.
It wasn’t until years later I saw it written down that the penny dropped. [Lard_Baron on Reddit]
Scientia potentia est
The sad fact is that, according to this Wikipedia article on the matter, the quote, a derivation of the latin phrase scientia potentia est, isn’t even attributable to Francis Bacon.
The phrase scientia potentia est (sometimes written as scientia est potentia) is a Latin aphorism often claimed to mean “knowledge is power”. It is commonly attributed to Sir Francis Bacon; however, there is no known occurrence of this precise phrase in Bacon’s English or Latin writings. However, this phrase does appear in Thomas Hobbes’ 1658 work De Homine, cap. x [Wikipedia]
If Francis Bacon is the proper source for the quote Lard_Baron’s father recited, and if it had originated in latin, it would of course be: scientia sit potentia, Franciae est lardo.
Hurts my zam blanz
When I was a kid Michael Jackson was popular. And being an awkward skinny white kid,naturally I was a fan. In his seminal track, Billy Jean from the 1082 album Thriller, he sings the lyric:
For forty days and forty nights
The law was on her side
But who can stand when she’s in demand
Her schemes and plans
Of course what I heard was:
But who can stand when she’s in demans
Hutrs my zam blanz
And being a kid of that age in a world where most of what adults say makes no sense, I assumed it was a bout a topic or anatomical region with which i was not yet familiar.
I still think Billy Jean is an amazing song…
What’s your example of something you misunderstood as a kid? Check the Reddit thread for examples. Links are below, but be advised, Reddit isnot always a safe place for kids…