Thursday, June 7, 2012

"Huge Vocabulary"

I've thought quite a bit about the impact that specialized education has on daily life. A cluster of days ago, I had a pretty big meeting with some people in the technology business. I had the floor for about two hours during which time everything was covered from the battle of operating systems: do you iOS5 or Androyd?, to market expansion in new technology, to bench development, to market shares and, yes, promotions, promotions.

There were some laughters interspersed and having spent a good deal of my already much lived life in public speaking, I always think that a few chuckles are better and more inviting than the heaviness of seriousness.

So, there I was. Talking shop about this and that, marrying words like 'dude' and 'awesome' to 'amelioration' and 'anthropomorphizing of devices.' I believe that jargons have to be mixed up. Just like it does one good to mix company, a peasant socializing with a peregrinating writer, an athlete playing chess with a 'nerd,' words have to co-exist. By socializing high with low, one gleans much about communication for, understanding, after all, is multi-faceted and it only comes to life when seen through the prism of varied experience and company.

Perhaps this is why I'm so attracted to colloquialism and diversity. To bring up Dante again because, of course, it's been a while, as he points out in his De Vulgari Eloquentiae i.e., On Eloquence in the Vernacular, which incidentally he had to write in Latin, the vernacular deserves the same dignity as Latin or elevated speech. Language, after all, is an ever-evolving organism. But, once reaching the second book, Dante got bored with the essay and dumped the project altogether. It must have happened around the time when things with the wife weren't all that great and Beatrice got married to someone else. Same human experience keeps recycling itself century in, century out. But I digress. I was talking about mixing highs and lows in language.

He says, "so-and-so is 'intimidated' because you have such a huge vocabulary." To which I say, "well, that vocabulary cost me a pretty penny, so, yeah." The only way to react to that statement was to be, meaning appear, nonchalant and easy-breezy. Deep down, however, I could feel my ears getting red out of frustration. I then added, "it's just words, in the end, who cares if it takes one of us longer to say the same thing?"

And then I drive back and I think of other contexts in which I felt like the company in which I found myself needed more mixing up, you know the onset of boredom, you know what it feels like. Like, the time when a pack of academics would get together and talk Dante or Goethe or ________, and all I was craving was some good ol' rock 'n roll or a quick chat with someone containing phrases like, 'WTF, dude, and I'm picking up what you're putting down, and it's just how I roll, and blah, blah, blah." Or the time when at a rock concert venue, my friends would insert a certain word after every other word and all I wanted to do was sit in my favorite chair and read a sonnet or a stanza from Dante. Bottom line, diversity is sexy and when it's lacking, it leaves a trace of something you know you're missing but can't quite define.


Anonymous said...

It's not every day that one couples "dude" with "decontextualize" in the same sentence.
We haven't spoken much of late. Was the drive to Kelowna as enjoyable as last time I was up there? ;)

Unknown said...

It's true, though. A good vocabulary is daunting to some to experience. But most online dictionaries are free so people can learn.
I don't know if you're actually talking about just vocab here, though. But, as per usu, I enjoyed. Keep them comin'.

Liam said...

I, too, have inflicted the intimidating sting of my vocabulary - often by accident; sometimes by design. Occasionally colloquialisms have to be explained to me in order to find the term's more eloquent cousin in my personal lexicon. I love me some words, yet I loathe their confounding nature all the same.

Dana said...

I related to this. Often I feel like saying nothing about what I know because then I feel like I have to manage people's perceptions and expectations of me. I've always found this bizarre....

I thought about lots of stuff whilst reading this. thanks ;)

Paul said...

Great post. I don't know about the conclusion: "Diversity is great." You have your finger on something here though.