July 11, 2017 > Editorial: Alliteration
In literature, the term alliteration equates to a specific type of echo or resonance. For instance, the tongue twister: Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers is considered to fall in this category since the ÒpÓ sound repeats throughout the sentence. Professor HigginsÕ training sentence for Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady - The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain - is close but since repetition is through vowels, not the first letter, it is called assonance. Literature, especially poetry uses plenty of both forms plus many others, giving license to expand our thinking beyond what directly and immediately affects our daily lives.
So, who cares about language and repetition except professors, poets and students of the English language?
While for many the answer is an emphatic yawn of disinterest, sometimes the results of repetition and its indirect consequences are significant and important, worthy of more than fleeting thought. When applied to political decisions, inattention can have significant impact on the well-being of all residents. New retail and residential development or redevelopment can instill vigor into neighborhoods and the economy, but wrapped within a myriad of zoning changes and design modifications, additional factors including impact on schools, traffic, road wear, protection and other services are vital concerns that require close attention. Although such applications to planning commissions and city councils can appear repetitious, they are not.
This is the same dictum that applies to driving an automobile. The process can become instinctual and routine but the result of inattention, catastrophic; items on a city council agenda include contracts, expenditures and policies that can have far-reaching effects. Without close attention from councilmembers and citizens alike, results can stray far from the original intent.
Just as households, cities and other public entities operate with budgets that outline how money from your taxes are spent. With the advent of electronic media, proposals and budgets are readily available for inspection by everyone. In the past, bulky documents were difficult to access but information is now at your fingertips; even massive proposals can be absorbed with some time and effort.
Articles in newspapers, such as this one, condense material, but are inadequate to convey all the information available. For example, an interview with Fremont Public Works Director Hans Larsen in this issue, gives a brief look at an important part of the City budget. However, the document, available online, is much more specific and well presented. Do you know how the City is spending your money? Another item of interest is a proposal by Union Pacific RR and Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) to alter and significantly increase rail traffic within the greater Tri-City area [ACEforward]. Documentation is immense, but so are the stakes.
Although budgets and development plans do not rhyme, they do echo repeatedly through the community and deserve attention and concern. T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) wrote of dark consequences of inattention in his poem following World War I, ÒThe Hollow Men,Ó published in 1925. He envisioned the end of mankind as, Ònot with a bang but a whimper.Ó But in other writings, he encourages personal, energetic participation when he says, ÒYou are the music while the music lasts.Ó
In discussions of traffic, schools or personal safety, whether alliteration or assonance, will you be the music who cares?