The Ridiculous Retreat

I knew someone who used to describe themselves on a social media profile as “accidentally rediculous [sic]”.  This provided me with a few problems.

Firstly, I thought it a strange form of self-deprecation considering the subjectivity of ridiculousness as well as the generality of someone being ridiculous in totality, rather than just being ridiculous in respect to one specific trait.

My second and third issues are related.  Pointing out spelling mistakes when you haven’t been asked to generally makes one appear an arsehole.  That would have been even more of the case with this example where I wanted to point out that the word does not mean being “diculous” again or the drawing back of the possession of “dic” (that latter of which I do find childishly amusing and yet may have been strangely apt at the time).

Additionally, I would maybe like to add a fourth issue in to the mix.  That issue is with the word “retreat” and the “re-” prefix.

If one views the word as the joining of “re” (back to the original place; again, anew, once more) and “treat” (anything that affords much pleasure) and then thinks about it in the usual sense of pulling back from battle, it doesn’t work.  For me, “retreat” is quite a strange word because the “re” stands correct and the “treat” element coming from the Latin “-trahere” meaning “to draw”.

So I think my real issue was with how we use the word “treat” in the English language and how it all ties in with things like “treaty” and “treatment”.

While I’m on the subject… A nice little story I read when I was trying to find out the etymology of retreat…

Apparently the earliest references to “beating a retreat” come from the mid-17th century, as in this command from an officer in the Army of James II in 1690:

The generalle [the signal to get up and start fighting again] to be beate att 3 clock in ye morning. Ye retreate to beate att 9 att night…

With this command, the retreat was not giving up occupied territory on the battlefield but signified a rather nice agreement that both armies would go to bed at sundown and get some sleep before waking up fresh the next day to commence hostilities.

In the modern world, might that be the most ridiculous form of retreat?!

When I sing about love and war
I don’t really know what I’m saying
I’ve been in love and I’ve seen a lot of war
Seen a lot of people praying
They pray to Allah and they prey to the lord
But mostly they pray about love and war
Pray about love and war
I’ve seen a lot of young men go to war
And leave a lot of young brides waiting
I’ve watched them try to explain it to their kids
And seen a lot of them failing
They tried to tell them and they tried to explain
Why daddy won’t ever come home again.
Daddy won’t ever come home again
I said a lot of things that I can’t take back
But I don’t really know if I want to
There’ve been songs about love
I sang songs about war

Since the backstreets of Toronto
I sang for justice and I hit a bad chord
But I still try to sing about love and war
Sing about love and war
The saddest thing in the whole wide world
Is to break the heart of your lover
I made a mistake and I did it again
And we struggled to recover
Then I sang in anger, hit another bad chord
But I still try to sing about love and war
I’ve been in love and I’ve seen a lot of war
Seen a lot of people praying
They pray to Allah and they prey to the lord
But mostly they pray about love and war
Pray about love and war.

Love And War by Neil Young

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