air (ɛər) 

1. The atmosphere. A colourless, odourless and tasteless gaseous mixture, mainly nitrogen and oxygen that surrounds the earth.
2. An atmospheric movement; a light breeze.
3. The sky. 


Can you think of a word simpler than “ar”? It feels as light and effortless as its own meaning. And it makes you want to repeat it over and over through your day, a thousand times if needed: ar… ar… ar… It’s almost therapeutic. I mean, it doesn’t even feel like a word. It could actually be a syllabic part in any Portuguese word. The termination of one of the countless verbs ending in “ar”, perhaps. But no, ar is a word by itself and in all its fullness.

And ar is so simple that, even when translated into English, it remains light and effortless. Better yet, if you pronounce it with a British accent, it will exempt you from having to twist your tongue for the r-effect. You just softly open our mouth and let the sound out: eh. It could indeed be this simple. It could… if we refrained ourselves from looking it up in a dictionary, just to find out that, not only is “air” not that simple to define but also that it shares the same sound with at least two more words, none of them being hair.

The thing we know best about simplicity is that it is hard to achieve. The thing I suspect the most about simplicity is that the more you plan it, the harder it gets.

Air is effortless. Hair is not. And we still mispronounce the first, fearing that – maybe – it may be too simple to be true.

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