Significant Discussion

By CRAIG J. CLARK


Start on a MAN working at a desk. There is a knock at the door.

MAN - Who is it?
VOICE - It's me, sir.

The MAN stops working and looks up.

MAN - And who is "me"?

We hear an audible sigh from the other side of the door.

VOICE - "Me" is a pronoun -- the objective case of the first person pronoun "I," used as the direct or indirect object of a verb or as the object of a preposition.
MAN - Okay...
VOICE - Can I come in now, sir?
MAN - I don't know. Can you?
VOICE - All right. May I come in now, sir?
MAN - And just where is "in"?
VOICE (sighs) - In the context in which I used it, "in" is an adverb meaning toward the inside or center, into a given place or position, indoors.
MAN - Good...
VOICE - Sir, may I please come in now? It's important.
MAN - What's "important"?
VOICE - It's about a possible corporate take over, sir.
MAN - No, I mean what does "important" mean?
VOICE - Sir, this is of the utmost urgency. We really don't have the time--
MAN - I don't care about that. Give me the definition.
VOICE (sighs) - Okay. "Important" is an adjective meaning significant, noteworthy, having an air of importance.
MAN - And what is "importance"?
VOICE - Sir--
MAN - What is it??
VOICE (quickly) - "Importance" is a noun describing the condition or quality of being important; significance; consequence.
MAN - Ah. Now isn't that odd?
VOICE - What's odd, sir?
MAN - Well, "odd" means differing in nature from what is--
VOICE - No, I mean what is odd about what I just said?
MAN - Oh. Well, think about it. The definition of "important" contains the word "importance," and the definition of "importance" contains the word "important." Isn't that an oddly circular way of going about defining a word?
VOICE - Yes it is, sir. Now--
MAN (rising excitedly) - Hang on. I want to exploe this further. Now, are there any other word pairs that define each other in this way?
VOICE - I'm sure there are plenty.
MAN - Right, well let's figure out some of them. Now, what about the words "gym," "gymnastics" and "gymnasium"?
VOICE - Sir, that's a triplet. And besides, we really don't have time for a semantic discussion right now. Now, may I come in?
MAN - Wait a minute. What did you just say?
VOICE - I asked if I could come in--
MAN - No, before that.
VOICE - Sir, we don't have time for this.
MAN - Time for what?
VOICE - A semantic discussion.
MAN - Ah, that was it! Now, what does "semantic" mean?
VOICE - Sir--
MAN - Tell me, tell me!
VOICE - "Semantic" is an adjective pertaining to meaning, especially in language.
MAN - And what is its etymology -- its word origin?
VOICE - It's from the Greek semantikos.
MAN - Meaning?
VOICE - Significant.
MAN - Which bring us back to--
VOICE - Important, yes I know, sir. Now, may I come in please?

The MAN thinks about this and sits back down.

MAN - I guess so.

The VOICE'S OWNER comes in, laden with important documents and a newspaper. He leaves the door open.

MAN - Now, what is this all about?
VOICE'S OWNER (showing him the paper) - Sir, we have a corporate takeover on our hands.
MAN - A corporate takeover? What's that?
VOICE'S OWNER - That's when a corporation of some kind assumes the control or management of another corporation.
MAN - And what is a corporation?

As the VOICE'S OWNER responds, we start to pan back to the open door.

VOICE'S OWNER - Well, sir. A corporation is a body of persons granted a charter legally recognizing them as a separate entity having its own rights, priviliges, and liabilities.
MAN - Ah, like us?
VOICE'S OWNER - Yes, sir.

By now, the camera has reached the door and closed in on a sign which reads, "Dictionary of the English Language, Editor's Office."

VOICE'S OWNER - Now, unless we act fast--
MAN - When you say "act," what do you mean?
VOICE'S OWNER - I mean the process of doing something, something that is done, to do something...

Fade to black.

To see a brief continuation of this scene, click on the word "continuation."


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P.S. All materials on this page are copyright 1998 by Craig J. Clark, in case you didn't know.