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This Unique 4 Letter Word Is Blowing My Mind

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

Semantic satiation, the word I got stuck on, and what I learned about it


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I recently watched the show, “Ted Lasso”, a light-hearted comedy on Apple TV. The show’s main storyline is about Ted, a U.S college football coach who is hired to coach an English Football (soccer) club.


In one episode, they use semantic satiation, as a comedic tool. While laughing with Ted about the words, “plan” and “aces”, I’ve been stuck on another four-letter word “park”.


Park.


Park?


Park!


Its Many Applications


The green space

There’s “park”, the noun. Which we typically experience as a green, public place. But there’s also a baseball park. Green but specific baseball.


Then there’s an industrial park. It isn’t necessarily green but it is a space devoted to a specific purpose. In a similar vein, amusement parks come to mind.


The gray space

“Parking lot, parking structure, or parking garage.” A place where you store your automobile for some amount of time. You typically have two choices. Short term or long term?


The activity

Then there’s the verb, “parking”. This is not what you do in a park but what you do when trying to find a place to store your vehicle temporarily.


The road type

Then there are variations of the word, like, “parkway”. A place to drive your car that probably has more trees…?


As a punchline?

In the movie Booksmart, they took advantage of these multiple meanings. There’s a scene where two characters are advertising their upcoming event, “Shakespeare in the Park…king lot.”


Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash


Shakespeare in the park? That might be a nice evening. Shakespeare in the parking lot? Not so much.


It’s Green History

The origins of the word park are slightly complicated, or at least not as straightforward. Originally “paddock” was used to define a space for animals, typically an enclosed space for horses.


As the military evolved from having horses to more heavy machinery they would put their gear in a “park”, an enclosed space in an organized fashion.


One of the world’s most famous, and most filmed parks is Central Park in New York City.


In the 1840s, while the city’s population was in the midst of quadrupling, there was a call for a need to escape the chaotic life and noise of the city. Architect and designer Frederick Law Olmsted submitted a plan and was awarded the project.


Frederick Law Olmsted called parks, “The lungs of the City.” And rightfully so. With the industrial revolution in full swing, parks took on the responsibility of helping preserve a sense of nature.


Photo by Yomex Owo on Unsplash


Today

Parks tend to have a positive impact on property values indicating that access to public green space is something that people really do value.


Parks are now an essential space during this pandemic. A study done by Jan Gehl’s team found that the top reason people use public space (read: parks) is for physical and mental health.


The study also found that people are walking and biking more. And where do those activities typically occur?


Parks.


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