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Handy Reservations

If you want to make a statement with a great many qualifications, put some of the qualifications in separate sentences. - Sir Bertrand Russell, in "How I Write" [1961, 63-65]
reservations and terse statements blend
FIGURE: The reservations and many terse-looking statements blend on several levels.

Sound qualifications or reservations (pinches of salt) - can be subsumed in some proverbs and other short expressions. Such reservations are found on this site, and signalled by the Reservations link on top of pages like this one.

"Reservation" in this context means sound qualification, the setting of limiting conditions or limiting modifications as needs be. It is a caveat, that is, a warning to consider factors before accepting them or acting on them.

The term "well, well" is used to express the same as "hm". Both are translations of the Norwegian tja (Haugen 1995, 438). On top of the pages on-site there is a text link to a set of reservations that are to be added to the running text as needs be. To repeat, such reservations are supposed to be palatable and encouraging to you too, to do their work as intended. One fair aim is optimal rather than maximal reservations, for "too much of a good thing" (a load of reservations) can become a nuisance. The question of how much is too much, is for each one to decide at times.

A fit set of reservations is a neat set chosen from the site's Grand Platter (our reservation battery), to be applied ad hoc (as is fit) to any statement, story, and even illustration on the site. There are good sides to it:

In folklore many sorts of reservations are subsumed and presupposed (quite as Sir Bertrand would have it). So: (1) We may not believe all proverbs literally, or in just one way, not solely in a figurative way either. (2) Many tales have additional meanings (metaphoric, allegoric, etc) (3) Idiomatic expressions may employ typified and suggestive elements; etc. In some cultures, listeners or receivers are presupposed to add reservations enough to many an expression that looks frisk and over-confident (and hence tendentious) perhaps.

Not Promoting A Lot

Every sentence that I utter must be understood not as an affirmation, but as a question. [Niels Bohr]

On this site there is plenty of information to look into. One aim is to inform truly. But you are also encouraged to be vigilant and reduce guessing and believing far and wide. It is in line with what the Danish top physicist Bohr says above: he found it fit to make an over-all reservation too, in his way. But his stand may be improved. See below.

A "supportive well-well medley" will be explained:

Supportive means, ideally, supportive to the site owner and the site's host, first and foremost. It is for safety reasons. Ideally, 'supportive' is supportive to both us and you, and maybe many others. That is at least a win-win way.

Besides, a succinct style that is put to work in a supportive [company] environment can bring about good changes too, according to TA (Transactional Analysis) (cf. Jongeward et al, 1976; Morrison and O'Hearne 1977).

The Grand Platter

Below is a "grand platter" (menu). Parts of the meny may be picked out of it and put together to form a fit set of reservations to add to the statement(s) etc. in question. The first statement to consider in this context is "Ill air slays sooner than the sword (Proverb)." Select a few of the subsumed qualifications (reservations) to go along with, and you may or may not disagree . . . And why not also study the statistics that pertain to bad air in cities today?


The qualifications that follow may be connected to such as the English proverb, "Ill air slays sooner than the sword" in The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs (1970, 397). The value of proverbs may depend on how you look at them. The main thing here is to weld reservations to the example proverb and perhaps go for better ways ot telling - even sound outcomes.
  • "WELL, presumably • so it could probably seem at times "Ill air slays sooner than the sword" under so and so conditions • if cleared and made fit and stringent, culinary plump, tidy and cosy, perhaps • if seen from certain angles • on such and such levels of proficiency • according to this or that hitherto ungauged probability estimate • in order to reduce the grossest harm, perhaps • eventually, sub specie aeternitatis • as far as I can see."

  • "WELL, maybe nowadays • maybe eventually • maybe under the right conditions • as concretely as well-nigh possible • it seems that "Ill air slays sooner than the sword" in an odd sort of way • in a handy, rustic, rough outline • to the degree it corresponds with solid facts • to the degree it is correct • and maybe never."

  • "WELL, depending in part on definition • figuratively considered • all (basic) things considered • it could prove to be a probable outline, that "Ill air slays sooner than the sword" in one way or another (in some way or other) • perhaps • statistically verified later on, hopefully • if all goes well • depending on evidence."

  • "WELL, if I have to state anything in such a matter, let it be preliminary for some time • perhaps to be modified or dissected later if decency bids it, that "Ill air slays sooner than the sword" in some/a savoury, sound, rewarding, profitable, and satisfactory (i.e., good) way or sense • still a whole lot could profit from being ascertained very well in good time • I figure (or suppose or guess) • give or take • if I have seen the Light • no matter how."

  • "WELL, maybe to some degree • if given a fair chance, "Ill air slays sooner than the sword", perhaps depending on an interpretation • all in all • or is related to it, methinks • and who do you think you are?"

NOTE: The dot • in the survey above stands for 'and' and 'and/or' or 'or', depending on what you want it to be.

Also be ready to question, "Where is the evidence? • Who benefits • Where does the money go, all in all?" and try to be bulwarked enough to get fair answers, and you may get wiser by and by.


"Ill air slays sooner than the sword." (English proverb)

Sound meanings depend in part on definitions, in part on how figuratively main parts of the utterance are considered - but a sober outlook relies on evidence.

Also, regardless of much else, sound qualifications may be ready-made, and then used ad hoc (expediently).

The proverb has been traced to ca. 1450. About that time cannons took over much warfare, and hand-held cannons were developed into other guns. There may be a figurative kernel of wisdom tucked away in the proverb anyway, for "sword" may be understood in a figurative sense to mean "gun". Moreover, guns have made deaths multiply through warfare and homicides.

As for air pollution: "According to the 2014 World Health Organization report, air pollution in 2012 caused the deaths of around 7 million people worldwide." (WP, "Air pollution")

The hard thing to do is to look for evidence first.

It also remains to point out that for those who succumb to air pollution - indoors or outdoors or both - the sword did not get them and "slayed sooner". Bad air is an alarming urban problem.

Now let us add something from the set of qualifications (above) to the proverb, so as not to be taken in by gullibility or other factors. There are many additions possible, including "- to the degree it is correct."

At any rate, choose parts from among the entries of the so-called Grand Platter (menu, buffet). Here is one pick:

  • It seems / so it could probably seem
  • to be statistically verified later on, hopefully
Ill air slays sooner than the sword,

  • give or take
  • somehow / to some degree
  • - and maybe not.

Adding one or some of them - or parts of them - to the ill air proverb, will you mount to entertaining by doubts? Ill air slays many, and those it kills, were not struck by swords . . . Cf. Kalama Sutta.

Three Sorts of Statements

Three sorts of statements: (A) declarative; (C) normative; and (C) joking ones. In simpler terms:
  1. Facts: These statements try to state facts, maybe expose things, explain definite knowledge, and so on. They seek to say how something is, or how things are. The personality instance that Dr. Berne calls the Adult (akin to Freud's ego-concept) may prefer facts to "fatten on".
  2. Norms: These statements are marked by "shoulds", "musts", and "ought to's". The seek to tell how things have to be, need to be, and so on. It is possible that somebody tries to dominate through such means. If so, it tends to hinder moral growth. The Parent (not unlike Freud's superego) is full of moral for dominating others or handle bad guys.
  3. Making fun: These can be hard to explain, and it often shows up that two of the most difficult things to explain in a foreign language are philosophy and humour. Humorous statement can help those who can catch the ideas or subterfuges involved, perhaps in the background. There are many forms of humour, though. Not all are suitable at any time at any place. The Child (it is id, libido in Freudian settings) likes fun and loving "at any time".

There are the three sorts of statements and their strong calls to three facets of our personality, according to Dr. Berne and Transactional Analysis (TA). May it be pointed out: It is possible and very often suitable to add mature reservations to all three sorts of statements.

Eric Berne's Semantics

In his book What Do You Say After You Say Hello? (1973), Eric Berne explains that
he may refer to human beings of either sex . . . sometimes he may also be used for grammatical simplicity . . . Is means that I have a reasonably firm conviction about something . . . Seems to be or appears to be means that I am waiting for further evidence before making a firm commitment (Berne 1973, xvii).

In this way Berne suggests where he seems totally sure. Readers had better adjust to the idea that Berne has devised reservations, has put some qualifications in the quoted, separate sentences (above), as the Nobel laureate Sir Bertrand Russel wants us to do. As a result Berne could reach others better - by (a) shorter sentences; (b) more impressive statements at first glance - a kind of "fake dogmatism". At any rate by expressions.

Add a good blend of advance modifiers (see the well medley) and see what you come up with.

Ralph Waldo Emerson Topics

Suppose you read:

We must leave a too close and lingering adherence to facts - Ralph Waldo Emerson, in Atkinson 1950, 211.

Emerson (1803–82) was a New England philosopher and orator.

Questions may be many. Here are three:

A. Who are the "we" he speaks on behalf of? It is a demagogic device to include many without making efforts to find out if they agree.

B. "Must" - other modal verbs may work better, as "We can leave . . ." But what are the effects of leaving an unspecified lingering to facts, and not Emerson?

C. "Too" in Emerson's phrase is a sort of persuasive word. It lacks precision and seeks agreements of the sort, "Yes, too much is too much". Instead seek preciseness in any case by seeking to find out "How much is 'too much'"?

"Facts first. You can dream at night" is an antidote to Emerson here.

A scientist may want to explore these issues, aiming at what is most reliable, valid, helpful, interesting and potentially fruitful. These are standard criteria to evaluate research topics by. And he or she may not find out anything in the matter if he or she lacks means to trace the claimed reincarnations of a worm - That is a problem.

Those who may be able to do it, may not have hard evidence to show up either. That is a second problem, although there may be a surface way to check it: If many people who are rather independent of one another report more or less the same things, it might be interesting. It is a bit as with "life after death" reports.

A proficient attitude means a lot. Try "It may be true, it may not, but we let the topic lie for now."

Emerson also wrote that "People do not deserve to have good writings; they are so pleased with the bad." (Emerson Journal 1911, 6:132) "How far could it be true, and under what conditions, and where is the evidence that it is so?" Questioning is a good start on the track of something, either verification, falsification (Popper), or remaining undecided as in "Further investigations may be needed".

Why "Good" Knowledge?

In many quotations and other statement, some qualifying elements can be inserted. Changes had better be shown, for example by adding "Rendered" or "Modified" as fits. Then there may be no doubt.

To counteract gross demagogy, what is termed "good" may be spelled out [Link].

Our parts could well be to make some well knit, cogent, fair and polite enough reservations that allow for a candid and quite poetic-looking style.


Can you measure the one who is "too profound to be known" (Tao Te Ching, chap. 15) . How can you tell unless you are profound too, and thus fairly unknown? You can do it by measuring the unknown, the formerly unknown, and go on. However, if you cannot devise a way to measure the hitherto unknown guys, at least keep the issue at bay, in suspense, in suspensio, all according to "The stone you cannot lift, let it lie."

Article Summary

Let subsumed reservations assist young folks.

If you sense there is something of value in a statement, you could apply reservations with the aim of ferreting out what that something could be in your setting.

Advance modifiers (reservations) could ideally help in making texts easier to handle, making learning easier, because such an approach will reduce the amount of words or data to process, learn and remember.



Harvesting the hay

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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