Saturday, June 23, 2001

The past, present and future of language

We accept that language grows, evolves and changes with the times. But sometimes we might feel that some changes result from a lack of concern over the intent of speech to convey meaning. Every era has its language crusaders and its issues of decadence. In Boston, England, John Richards wants to address the problem of errant and abused apostrophes and while he has not seen much local support, an article in the London Telegraph triggered a flurry of positive reaction.Boston Journal: Minder of Misplaced Apostrophes Scolds a Town

Monday, June 18, 2001

On Words...

Words are loaded pistols.
-Jean-Paul Sartre, writer and philosopher (1905-1980)

A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanging; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and time in which it is used.
-Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. Physician, essayist and poet (1809-1894)

Sunday, June 17, 2001

What's in a Name?

Apparently, quite a bit of inference and assumption...and potential confusion too, as this article about new names for "old" computer terms illustrates.
Binary vs. Decimal Measurements

Saturday, June 09, 2001


1. The freedom to see and hear what is here, instead of what should be, was or will be.
2. The freedom to say what one feels and thinks, instead of what one should.
3. The freedom to feel what one feels, instead of what one ought.
4. The freedom to ask for what one wants, instead of always waiting for permission.
5. The freedom to take risks on one's own behalf, instead of choosing to be only "secure" and not rocking the boat.

Virginia Satir

Friday, June 08, 2001

Know your Euphemisms

From a former manager at Taco Bell:
As director of communications, I was asked to prepare a memo reviewing our company's training programs and materials. In the body of the memo in one of the sentences I mentioned the "pedagogical approach" used by one of the training manuals. The day after I routed the memo to the executive committee, I was called into the HR director's office, and told that the executive vice president wanted me out of the building by lunch. When I asked why, I was told that she wouldn't stand for perverts (pedophiles?) working in her company. Finally, he showed me her copy of the memo, with her demand that I be fired and the word "pedagogical" circled in red. The HR manager was fairly reasonable, and once he looked the word up in his dictionary and made a copy of the definition to send back to her, he told me not to worry. He would take care of it. Two days later, a memo to the entire staff came out directing us that no words that could not be found in the local Sunday newspaper could be used in company memos. (!)

Thursday, June 07, 2001

Meaning as Subjective Event

From a cartoon in Hemispheres, the United Airlines magazine:

Man standing in front of a judge:
"If breaking the law is a crime, well then I must confess I'm guilty."