Yesterday in the dictionary, I came upon four impressive words and phrases. The
first three were not exactly new. But as I realized for a while that truth has
layers, I went away with a deeper understanding. Last, the virtues according to
classic Western philosophy were striking in contrast to some of the Eastern.
I have long forgotten what I learned from high-school chemistry. In real-life,
all I know about carbon is that the diamond is a free form of it. Its definition
says that it exists in all organic compounds. That's impressive but its
significance still eludes me.
One meaning of carbonate is to infuse liquid with pure carbon dioxide gas. What
really makes this word stick is soda, or carbonated water. I had always thought
soda refer to soft drinks such as coca cola without asking why. It does but the
original meaning is carbon-dioxide-charged water. I would have never found out
because I would never intentionally search for it.
The phrase "carbon copy" was the same story. I had known that it was what "cc"
meant as in an email but that was it until I saw first "carbon paper" and then
carbon copy. I have been using them when writing checks, e.g., all the time. I
believe my first memory of a carbon copy was in my childhood when taking
receipts from a recycling depot.
Dictionary-reading led me to places I would not dream to explore any other way.
The cardinal virtues consist of justice, prudence, fortitude, and temperance, or
公正, 謹慎, 勇氣, and 節製(酒, 食物) if I have to translate. I don't think they overlap
much with 仁，義，禮，智，信，the five moral standards of the Confucian.