Sep 14, 2010

From Clippings on Kindle3 "heel"

One of the functions, which I was allured into buying kindle3, is that it enables us to put underlines on unfamiliar or interesting phrases and expressions, then it automatically collect and stuck them under the notes & marks file. You can check and use all those clippings whenever you want, during your reading time or while you're learning new expressions.

As for a learner of English, it's not helpful to learn new words if those notes are only kept in kindle3. I've got to review them from time to time, then I can remember well and use them properly while I write a blog entry or work on my hobby J-E translation.

So, today's tricky word is "heel."

"Heel" is an English word, but it's commonly used in Japanese too and it's safe to say almost all Japanese understand that it means the edge of our feet, and has no other additional meanings.

To my great surprise, I often encounter the scenes which I can't imagine properly as long as I take "a heel" as a part of our feet. For example, when someone licks its heel, that parson got to have a super flexible body like an gymnast. How odd. The story is about an ordinary people, so the heel should come something another meaning, I finally started to doubt.

While I was reading yesterday, I ran into again the word heel and it was used like this;
... sat up a bit and reached up to rub between his eyes with the heel of his hand.

Now, you can tell the heel definitely comes with another meaning besides the edge of feet. I don't want to deprive you of the fun to learn new expressions on your own, so I won't give you the answer here, but I'm positive that you got the right idea by now.



Clarissa at Talk to the Clouds said...

Well, after a couple of days I was still thinking about this post. I wonder if you still have access to the original "licking his heel" sentence. I'd like to read it. I don't think it's likely that this sentence refers to the heel of someone's hand. When "heel" occurs in English referring to a body part, it means the heel of a foot if "hand" is not specified. The default body-part meaning of "heel" is definitely "foot," not "hand." That is, if a writer means "the heel of the hand," they have to write "...of the/his/her hand." They can't just write "heel."

Does that make sense?

There are some other meanings for "heel," of course (related to bread...the verb...a kind of person).

Anyway, the clipping feature sounds very useful. :)

Mrs. Malone said...

Hi Clarissa,

It seems my careless writing caused you to wonder about the usage of the word heel.

I wrote "someone likes "its" heel" in the entry and I used "its" on purpose. Because some books I read might be regarded as kinky, I wonder if this word kinky is appropriate to use in public like this, so I intended to vague the sex of the person. Do you get what I mean?

(It's easier to explain if I write the title of the books I read, but I'm afraid someone might have a very wrong idea about my personality^^;.)

The actual sentence I encountered in a book is this:
(The name of the person) sat up a bit and reached up to rub between his eyes with the heel of his hand.

So it's clear the heel refers to a part of his hand.

Your notice made me realize again the importance of using "its" "his" her" accordingly. We don't need to distinguish the sex of people in Japanese, so I was not concerned much the difference when "its" is used instead of "his" or "her."

mmm, I'm so lucky to be able to learn such a crucial matter of English usage.
Thank you very much!