Apprehension

Okay – time for a dose of random linguistics.  I’m reading this scripture the other day (can’t remember exactly when) – Phil 3:13 – when it strikes me that it’s a really strange use of the word ‘apprehended‘.  I mean, we’re talking about him trying to win a race and he says he’s not yet apprehended…  just never quite gelled for me.  But I got to thinking of related words/situations and it started to make more sense…  e.g., they apprehended the suspect…   certain monkeys have prehensile tails with which they can swing through the trees…   so now I can see that he means ‘take hold of’, which I always knew from the NIV but never could make the two translations make sense to myself.

Think I’m finished?  Nope – that was the normal part.  What really started bugging me is that when I say I’m apprehensive about an upcoming job interview, it doesn’t exactly call to mind a state of grabbing something.  I suppose it must have something to do with grabbing onesself, but such a usage never crossed my mind before now.

Nope – no real point.  Just an interesting (to me) insight into a very common word.

Maybe this’d be a good time to put in a plug for the Language Log – I really enjoyed reading some excerpts from it in “Far From the Madding Gerund.”  Just wish I had more time to read – had to return it to the library when I was barely 40 pages in.

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2 Responses to “Apprehension”

  1. I’m reminded of a phrase I come across in reading from time to time (and occasionally in black and white film classics, particularly those of England).

    “You, sir, are laboring under a misapprenhension.”

    Which is, of course, a toney way of saying, “You got it wrong, bud.”

    With the added sense of: “Your thinking got off on the wrong foot and kept going in the wrong direction.”

    So, in a way, it’s not fluff. It’s actually muscular writing.

    What would a pithy street version be? “Man, you’re barking up the wrong tree.”

    ?

  2. Also, about “apprehensive” meaning anxious. I think it speaks to the agitation and disquiet of being anxious. Like getting cold feet is symptomatic (and synecdochical) of event anxiety, apprehensive feelings are characterized by a quickening of the pulse … so it’s a subjective state (is that the right word, subjective?). Like “being taken by an idea” … as if the apprehension didn’t arise from within. It’s a passive construction.

    Nah, I just made all that up.

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