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LETTER: Popular yes, but never common
Paul Henderson’s column “No known cure for pedanticitus” brought to mind an experience while in Grade 3 which would place it in 1958.
My teacher, Mrs. Knott was one of the people whom one can only hope to find engaged in moulding one’s young life. Many of the lessons and perspectives introduced have developed and become foundational to my character.
Mrs. Knott was very “proper” and particular in all things, which seemed to have had the opposite effect on me from that which is asserted by so many people today. I was not stifled in my exploration of concepts, neither was my creativity compromised. What was provided was a solid and rational basis onto which to form and examine. While I experienced, and taught along side, many “duds,” Mrs. Knott was a shining example of the possible.
One of my very favourite experiences was on an occasion when a man asked of Mrs. Knott, “What is your name?”. She responded that it was “Knott. “K”, “N”, “O”, “T”, “T”.”
He observed, “That’s quite a common name.”
She bristled and retorted, “It may be prolific and it may be popular, but it is NEVER COMMON!”
A life lesson which has stuck with me as to how precise distinctions in language are vital to understanding one another. Call me a dinosaur but, like you know how like you like, like don’t like always like understand like, what I’m saying, you know?
No, Mrs. Knott was anything but “common” in all senses of the word. As important to me as was Mrs. Watts to Christopher Hitchens.