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26 February 2006 @ 09:47 pm
argh! WORDS!!!  
< quote >
Neo: I just have never...
Rama-Kandra: ...heard a program speak of love?
Neo: It's a... human emotion.
Rama-Kandra: No, it is a word. What matters is the connection the word implies.
Rama-Kandra: That is our karma.
Neo: You believe in karma?
Rama-Kandra: Karma's a word. Like "love". A way of saying 'what I am here to do.'

-- Matrix: Revolutions --
< /quote >

i have never quite comprehended people's need and want to cling so tightly to 'magic words'. What I am speaking of as a 'magic word' are the words that people somehow cling to as if they are some sort of special term that solves things- a good example are words often associated with business speak like 'paradigm' or 'analytics' or 'six sigma'. Somehow people forget to double check their assumptions- the underlying definitions of what words they choose. Naming a thing does not mean that what the thing implies has come about nor does it mean that the thing will solve anything. Action and meaning are necessary to make the definition real.

Yet people seem to like to cling to these words. In fact the more abstract and difficult the understanding is of these words, the more people cling to them. I suppose the very nature of it being so abstract and such gives it a sort of mysterious thing that it can sound more wonderous, enough so it can sound like it can solve anything (like the whole.NET fiasco of MS or many other examples i can think of).

But the hard reality come down to this, if you can not define it, can not bring about a good example- a good story- then you do not understand it. And not understanding it means you do not know its limitations nor its capabilities. By not understanding these things you can not possibly proceed on with action and meaning to make the word or what it is to do a reality.
Locrianlocriansax on February 27th, 2006 02:50 am (UTC)
holy shit can you multitask ;)
Nepenthenepenthe01 on February 27th, 2006 02:56 am (UTC)
How extremely profound!

As a provider of technical services, I often see this attitude in my customers. Sometimes they seem so disappointed that the magic bullet didn't cure their political infighting, inefficiencies, or lazy staff members. The big magic word is "ITIL". I confess to believing in it as well...I want to believe it will do all that it says it will do. And as a consultant, I need to believe it, right? I need to sell that magic to the customer - why else would they pay all that money.
Maggiemagg1es on February 27th, 2006 03:09 am (UTC)
And even then...
When you have the meaning of the word(s) understood, there's the matter of whether the person you communicate it to shares the same definition, or feeling towards the word.

You can bring up experiences, or a good example, but pinpointing the other's feeling, and also the depth of which is felt can cause misunderstanding. Maybe a certain experience brings up emotions other than what would be expected, associating other feelings, and distorting their view on said word. Then you're in a pickle, because no one lacks these things...
Braxanabraxana on February 27th, 2006 03:18 am (UTC)
Re: And even then...
true.. but at some point one has to believe that a mutual ground has been met. because ultimately that is the point of language, to find common ground
Maggiemagg1es on February 27th, 2006 05:48 am (UTC)
Re: And even then...
I guess it depends on the depth of emotion assumed to be involved in a particular word as to how careful you are with it.
Mrs. Bunny Monsterbunnymonster on February 27th, 2006 12:18 pm (UTC)
Amen my brother.

Some words are vastly overused, overrated and misunderstood.
Yet? People persist in using them.

And yes, I totally agree that people use these certain magical words to the exclusion of others, perhaps to create that common ground? Or...is it a lack of imagination? A lack of subtlety?? Or a fundamental misunderstanding of the emotions at the very base (dare I say heart??) of what they are trying to communicate? That opens a much larger can of proverbial worms ;)

Regardless, I think people quite often forget just how many words there are in the "English Language" and use a small comfortable vocabulary that they know (or at least hope) won't be misconstrued. And instead of using new! different! exciting! words to convey distinctive meanings, the definitions of common words are simply expanded - leaving no room for nuance and every opportunity for confusion. Ironic, yes?

"...define irony."

Mynja: pounce!armandae on February 27th, 2006 02:31 pm (UTC)
misconstrued. And instead of using new! different! exciting! words to convey distinctive meanings,

Not to mention that being actively discouraged in corporate.business culture (maybe with the exception of advertising where catchy phrases mean product recognition...). My manager (among others, like talesinsdaughtr) have noted my use of ... violent...verbs. Highly active to put it one way. ("aggressive waste management" for a letter of intent - he suggested 'proactive', but the connotations, not the same)

As of 2001, 682,000 - not including jargon or technobabble ;p According to the OED, that is. This possibly includes words like "meep!" and "squee!" that most people know what to mean. (I'd have to pester hawver, but his bossman is conducting a linguistic survey of neologisms. So. Cool. wanted to do something siilar for my now-defunct-dead-null computational ling. project. Pregret!)

Anyways, point being is that people seem to shy away from connotatively heavy words. Jargon is almost a connotative null (and it creates the perception of expertise in a field) - but too often, one can babble on and on without saying a damn thing in jargon. ;p Moo used to frequently tease me bout my "tongue kung fu"

In a similar vein. But then I'm slightly obsessed with the notion of connectedness and Pattern.

before moo makes fun of me again ;p
Mrs. Bunny Monsterbunnymonster on February 27th, 2006 03:02 pm (UTC)
I like the way you think :)

And yes, many factions of the corporate/business world do discourage expansive vocabulary and the creative use of words. Being an English major, who then decided to attend law school, I am completely and utterly aware of how they suck all the life out of words and force you into the strict confines of concise, technical, dare I say *dry* verbiage.

There is no passive voice
There are no adjectives
There is no room for creativity
There is no time for verbosity
choosing to employ the negative connotation of that word over the positive meaning

I understand the principle behind such "rules" in the legal field, but do they really think it promotes a culture of lawlessness?? (no pun intended.) No one understands techinical legal jargon anyway ;)

And yes, I do agree that people tend to shy away from words with heavy meanings or connotations. Much like the general public tends to shy away from heavy, serious, real issues in conversation.

Ours is a superficial society.
Scared to death of being misunderstood, politically incorrect or seen as different from the so called norm. The path of least resistance prevails.

PS - "tongue kung fu" That's awesome...
Mynja: tigerarmandae on February 27th, 2006 03:20 pm (UTC)
Heh. I'm a CS person doing Linguistics ;p I'm more interested inthe connection of words and the -meaning- and the construction rather than the word itself. the process behind them, as it were. the human correlation.

People too often think that more precise, more technical, more exact is more effective. It may be more efficient, but not more effective. Hells, I'm a victim of that thought pattern a lot of the time and trying to break that. Pain. In. The. Arse. I come from the pure science disciplines. Math, chemistry, etc. It was all bout -technical- and -precise- writing.

*chuckle* What you describe sounds like double-speak ;p We do something similar when writing in academia (operations side) when trying to get the administration to give us something. We have to write in an entirely neutral voice. Drives me batshit. The goal is not to be noticed, but to be noticedenough to get what you want. (which, ironically, was achapter on Courtiership that I was reading on Laws of Power - which I will have to buy.)

Jargon is inoffensive. People have taken PC'ness to horrific levels. As to the vocabulary - I've been told to 'dumb down' because it makes others feel stupid. Funny, in a culture where we are largely inconsiderate, unaware, and uncaring of how we affect others (I've ranted on this before. Going to Japan really opened my eyes to western culture) - we make a lot of it in the workplace. Somehow, intelligence gets construed as arrogance (my manager is an excellent mentor, and points out things that I often don't observe when Im running a meeting/giving a presentation)

I wouldn't say superficial (I'm sure you have heard Moo's rant about 'depth' ;p) but I'm trying this new attempt to be optimistic about people. I think a lot of people don't project/don't have depth, because in the workplace/et al it has been discouraged. Because, ya know, you might make someoen feel bad. ;p

aww, thank you =D
(tongue kung fu always sounded vaguely lewd to me ;)
Mrs. Bunny Monsterbunnymonster on February 27th, 2006 06:59 pm (UTC)
I find it a crying shame that people are discouraged from using proper, even creative, language wherever and whenever they damn well please! That just lends itself to the general dumbing down of the nation as a whole - as you've experienced. Entirely unacceptable, IMHO.

Language was created for a reason...to provide the means of expressing yourself fully, completely and in a manner which can (hopefully) be understood by your fellow humans. And I share your interest in not only the words (for they don't and can't exist in a vacumm) but their meanings, their often very interesting etymology, their construction and how they are used - commonly and uncommonly. Or not used at all, as our discussion seems to bear out ;)

Words without an eye to their origins, their history and their context, mean (essentially) nothing.

Agreeing with you completely that techinical language may be more efficient but is not usually more effective or, for that matter expressive, since it will whittle at the intended meaning until it is able to be presented in its simplest form...Often (though not always) leaving it with little emotion, nuance or subtlety. Not that you would want emotion in techinical writing. Heh.

As you said: We have to write in an entirely neutral voice. Drives me batshit. The goal is not to be noticed, but to be noticed enough to get what you want.

Which is exactly what drove *me* batshit (to borrow a phrase) in terms of legal writing! And strengthens my position that people often speak (or don't speak) a certain way to avoid appearing different, above or below the accepted norm.

I do tend to agree that jargon is usually inoffensive, but argue against that (in the same breath) by saying that it is often employed as elitism, i.e. exclusionary language known only by the chosen few within a certain profession or group. By its very definition:

1 a : confused unintelligible language b : a strange, outlandish, or barbarous language or dialect c : a hybrid language or dialect simplified in vocabulary and grammar and used for communication between peoples of different speech
2 : the technical terminology or characteristic idiom of a special activity or group
3 : obscure and often pretentious language marked by circumlocutions and long words

And note the last meaning listed, which makes it useless in this discussion as defined contextually by either one of us ;)

Mynja: kitty_lickin_goodarmandae on February 27th, 2006 07:20 pm (UTC)
i.e. exclusionary language known only by the chosen few within a certain profession or group. but then refer to above comments where language/worldview is reached at by shared language.understanding. Amazing the connectedness.sense of connection with people when you have that shared vocabulary.experiences. Jargon is a different method of conveying those experiences. I'm not sure I could ever explain that heartbursting sensation of wandering through Takashimaya square to someone who hasn't been there and felt the collective thrum of humanity along the skin and the energy levels. It made me giggle like a 3 year old given too much candy. In the sense of sharing experiences that there are often not words for - so much of life - jargon is necessary. But, all things in moderation. In this case, it isn't the word itsself that is at fault, but the human.mannerism.root behind it. It is just a word. Like Rama-whatsit said in the quote ;p

Again, intent versus meaning. Too often people use jargon as a form of exclusion, but the flipside is that among that community of people, it is a form of inclusion. The environment.world that people are coming from is hugely important. Freaking context fields ;p

Heh. Teach me to argue words with an english major ;p

(random factoid that you prolly know. Based out of the connotation discussion. Words of a Single Syllable. Was an excellent article I read in my intro linguistics course - but basically the gist was that those words in English with the heaviest connotative meaning were those that came from the original anglo-saxon pidgin. As words were progressively borrowed (french, yadda yadda) you can plot (loose scientific analysis) the connotative meaning in a proportional line to how new they are. Jargon - being fairly new, is almost connotatively.semantically null. I wish someone would do a similar study of other cultures that stealborrow as many words as english.) (Random factoid 2 related: How we.they used the angloSaxon term for a word when it was a beast in the field, but that the french term was used when it was cooked/prepared ;p cow vs veal (quote) " The peasants called the animals by the Anglo-Saxon names -- pig, calf, sheep, etc., but the aristocracy, who ate the meat, called it by the French names for the same animals -- porc (pig), veau (calf), boeuf (ox or bullock), mouton (sheep). This got Anglicised slightly over the centuries but this distinction between these animals and the meat has remained in every English-speaking country around the world. Animals which were not commonly eaten by the Norman-French aristocracy, e.g., chicken, turkey, rabbit etc., have the same name for the animal and the meat. ")

erm. Hookay. I'm going to stop flooding Moo's mailbox. Heh. He's heard my rants/stupidity on this topic far enough *chuckle*

nice chattering! wee. People who don't look at me funny for random word-babble ;p
Mrs. Bunny Monsterbunnymonster on February 27th, 2006 10:46 pm (UTC)
I'll refrain from further comment too before the Moo has a fit ;P *hee hee*

But it was nice chatting with you...
And I will check out the link you posted too!

Perhaps I will add you as an lj friend -
if you don't mind? Seems we think along similar paths.

Mynjaarmandae on February 28th, 2006 01:24 am (UTC)
;p don't mind at all. I'll add as well. scroll back for the various entries re japan etc *chuckle* I tend to post my more random babblish enlightenment pseudo mental wanderings ;p

always good to meet new (intelligent) people *chuckle*

Mynjaarmandae on February 27th, 2006 07:31 pm (UTC)
you might find this interesting ;p

kinda relates to convo.discussion. the notion of a word is a word means nothing beyond itself. Sometimes i want to fling this at people and beat them upside the head with the chart ;p