A range of odd things related to words moved together today. I managed to join some friends for their regular Friday morning coffee and conversation. So eager was I to make it that I made sure to break off from trading early and head out, only to get to the restaurant before it opened at 11am :-). The first regular who arrived was, naturally, surprised to hear my little voice saying “Hello!”
But the group had lots to talk about and much else to exchange, including some books. A lot of the conversation revolved around language, spoken and written, and forms of expressing language, using writing implements such as fountain pens–a passion of mine that I found was shared by the first of the group who had greeted me this morning. He showed off a few of his pens that happened to be in his pocket and we exchanged stories about Washington DC’s famous pen store, Fahrney’s. He also told a great story about how his hand writing had to be changed to fit the education system in Uganda, where he studied as a boy.
The group celebrated a few things, including the engagement of one of its members–his first, late in life, and very exciting for that.
We also talked about sex and gender issues in language, prompted by the lady who came to our table referring to herself as our ‘server’ (which she explained is the politically correct term in the restaurant industry, not ‘waiter’ or ‘waitress’). While we may debate whether we are being served or waited upon, we have other social mores to ponder. English does not have grammatical rules that are based on assigning gender to nouns, so those who speak English have to deal with offending (though perhaps unintended) by trying to create male-female versions of nouns. French, German, and Spanish, for instance, are guided (quite strictly) by gender specifications for nouns. I need to speak to some friends who are native speakers of such languages about their views on English-speakers’ issues surrounding gender and nouns.
The group has a number of people who write and use words to influence, and it was fascinating how strands of their different skills in that area crossed. I will take a few days to try to stitch together in my mind some of the language-related points that came up, but in the mean time will put a few things out there as place holders.
“Words are important…Those who control the words control the argument.” We talked about how certain words have been captured by those who really do not believe in them, eg, ‘socialism’, and ‘government’.
“Those who succeed in the military as leaders often do not transfer those skills into other areas of work …They can bring other things and being appointed to boards allows them to bring contacts and openings for contracts.”
“Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD)”, how these are used to manipulate and attempt to control.
“What does it mean to stay on message in what you say yet stray in what you do?” Has the new Republican-controlled House of Representatives already strayed in its first week?
Finally, whatever happened to the Filofax? (For the ignorant, it has nothing to do with the ingredients of spinach pies.) Several people proudly showed off their iPad version minus 1 (the block note pad). When I said that I used a pen and notebook to write over the weekends, I was asked if that was a computer notebook and stylus. I explained that I tried to put the electronic work machine aside for much of the weekend.
Just scrambling to recall, in a somewhat disjointed way. It’s been a long day and as usual in recent times it has been a week where market movements have not failed to surprise and give a bit of shock and awe. For those who have not been watching the Euro, the word is ‘Timber!’.