THINGS THAT DON'T MEAN WHAT WE THINK THEY MEAN

  1. The Road Not Taken
    This poem is about not following the crowd but instead striking out in our own direction and finding our true selves, right?! No. "Though as for that the passing there / Had worn them really about the same, / And both that morning equally lay / In leaves no step had trodden black." It pointedly makes fun of our tendency to think past decisions are more important than they really are. "I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence…And that has made all the difference." Indeed.
  2. If music is the food of love, play on.
    Because I love being in love and I want to feed my love! Play! Play! Play! Ahh yummy love! Lol no. The next line: "Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, the appetite may sicken and so die." The notion that music is the "food of love" is proverbial and Shakespeare subverts this by having the Duke ask to be so overfed on it that he becomes sickened turning his love for Olivia into disgust. He's tired of being in love.
  3. Sound and fury
    Often said to express power, rage, or impending doom, this phrase originates from Macbeth's powerful soliloquy at the end of the play about futility and meaninglessness: "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing." Macbeth's sound and fury is, he says, a worthless pretense.
  4. Wherefore art thou Romeo?
    I'm sure none of you smart people are confused about this one but it was pervasive enough in the past that even the late brilliant Roger Ebert got it wrong in his review of Zeffirelli's 1968 Romeo and Juliet: "not one single person found it necessary to snicker when Juliet asked so simply where Romeo was." The thing is, Roger, (and I'm telling you this because I love you) when Juliet asks, "wherefore art thou Romeo" she isn't asking *where*, she's asking *why*. Why does he have to be Romeo?
  5. Thee, Thy, Thou, and Thine
    These are the pronouns they used to use to refer to superiors when being highly formal, right? You're forgiven for thinking so because your teacher taught you this, but it's wrong. Actually these were the *informal* pronouns used for inferiors and equals. You and Your were reserved for formal situations. We're probably so confused about this because the place we most typically see these is the King James Bible, where they were paradoxically chosen for a less formal more intimate tone.
  6. Your clock goes slower near the speed of light
    This is true, but the implication is usually totally confused by people who talk about it. And that's ok because the real truth is incomprehensibly counter-intuitive. What your teacher said: If a man takes off in a spaceship going close to the speed of light, his watch will tick more slowly and he'll age more slowly than people on earth. What they left out: the watches on earth will *also* tick more slowly than the astronaut's and they'll age slower than *him*. How can both be true? Relativity.
  7. Immaculate Conception
    This Catholic concept has nothing to do with the virgin birth of Jesus. It is rather the notion that Jesus's mother Mary was herself conceived free from original sin, the otherwise-pervasive stain of the fall of man through Adam's transgression inherited by all mankind.
  8. Papal Infallibility
    While we're taking about Catholicism, contrary to oft-repeated claims by non-Catholics, the Pope does not profess to be infallible. Infallibility only applies to the Pope's teachings under very specific circumstances and the church only recognizes two such infallible teachings in the last 200 years.
  9. Ye Olde Shoppe
    The word "The" has never been pronounced "ye". Old English had extra letters including "thorn" (þ) which fell out of favor in modern English. But the common word "the" continued to be abbreviated with a thorn + a superscripted letter e. In common 16th century handwriting, this abbreviation looks very much like "ye" but it was always pronounced "the" like it is today.
  10. Highly evolved
    In so far as all life on earth stems from a unified genetic history (and we believe that to be true), every living thing is equally "evolved". Humans are not more evolved than monkeys or pigs or moss. Evolution has no goal, intelligence is not an endpoint of evolution, and what is highly advantageous today may be severely problematic tomorrow (see Dinosaurs). Also, humans did not evolve from modern monkeys. We evolved from ancient chimpanzees, and so did modern chimps.