DEFINE (Five Minute Friday)

Apologies for the late posting link to Five Minute Friday at http://katemotaung.com/. I’ve been away for the weekend (more of that in my next post) and didn’t take my tablet with me. I wrote the post on my phone but sadly couldn’t post from it. Hope it was worth the wait.

I love to know the definitions of words – in the past, perhaps because defining a word meant precision and exactitude; it gave it clear boundaries, put it in a nice neat box. When I worked in mental health, one of my clients, with extreme OCD, would question almost every word or phrase I used – there was no room for sloppiness or throwaway remarks with him: it provoked too much anxiety.

But language is more slippery, more tricksy than that. Having studied French and R.E., I learned that often there is no direct translation for words. Or they can have multiple meanings, the context needing careful study to deduce it. Or in poetry it can be an advantage to play with ambiguity of definition.

And I love that.

I love learning the etymology of a word, which brings depth to its meaning. I love a thesaurus, the multiple alternatives bringing a breadth of meaning.

Words are birds, swooping and soaring like swallows, not caged like canaries. We can pin them down like a Victorian butterfly collection and admire their precise detail or we can let them fly, letting our minds and hearts adventure with them to unthought of sources of nectar.

 

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4 thoughts on “DEFINE (Five Minute Friday)

  1. Visiting from Five Minute Friday (I also was a late poster this week). Your writing is so lyrical. My favorite line: “Words are birds, swooping and soaring like swallows, not caged like canaries.” So perfectly captures the beauty and sometimes unexpectedness of language. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  2. Lovely post! I love how you went straight to language instead of self-definition like so many of us did! In a world with teens in the house and seeing them dealing with stress and the block and unblock buttons against their friends regularly I have realized that the words they use and how they are being used (sarcasm, literal) really has an unfortunate impact and then once they speak face to face instead of in a snap chat clip they are back to being friends again. I can’t imagine being in such a fickle world, or texting a friend who really doesn’t know the way I speak and being insulted. It’s unfortunate that kids are missing out so much on true communication and relationship building through words instead of acronyms limited to a certain number of characters. I’m not saying we need to use the words the way they were originally used, but understanding the people we are speaking with and their comprehension is so meaningful to growing lasting relationships.

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    • I wonder if the abbreviated teenage language of acronyms is a limitation like Orwell’s doublespeak in 1984 or an evolving language all of its own? But I guess that’s the thing about words, just as we pin them down, they change! You’re so right that rich and accurate communication also requires personal contact though. Thank you for stooping by.

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