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Reasoning why - A little less than a happy high — LiveJournal
komos
komos
Reasoning why
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komos From: komos Date: January 14th, 2003 09:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I’m merely attempting to understand why I’m more forgiving of usage than others. I am not defending someone’s right to communicate in such a way as to fail utterly to convey meaning. And while I’ll agree that there is an obligation to communication every time one uses language, I think that obligation extends to the "intended target audience" as opposed to "as many people as possible." The latter is far more rigid, and I think that it ultimately limits the artistry of language.

Under this idea, Shakespeare’s genius must be questioned because his works are not readily accessible to the majority of modern readers. His writing is beautiful, but it incorporates so many archaisms that a reader who has not been trained to understand them may well lose a great deal of the meaning. House of Leaves’ non-linear and occasionally architectural structure becomes an obstacle to communication rather than integral part of the work. While I’ll agree that communication is of paramount importance, I don’t believe that the writer is forced to accept such rigid rules that he must structure his work to accommodate what is effectively the lowest common denominator.*

Translation is another matter, and most translators will offer the caveat that their work is an interpretation more than anything else. The translator understands that any effort may come close, but will ultimately fail to convey the Truth of the original. In some cases (as with the Koran) it is actually believed that a translation cannot even be called by the same title. Incidentally, the King James Bible received a treatment similar to that which you are describing. Granted, it wasn’t as extreme, but "cleaning up" the text to better accommodate the mores of the time as opposed to giving a truer interpretation of the original text does not necessarily mean that it’s value is completely lost. It merely creates a new document.


*I think there are responsibilities on the part of the reader as well, but that may fall into a different discussion. Thinking about who is responsible for conveying understanding is reminding me of the "Big Yellow Dot" in the MFA, a piece I still have yet to grasp. I make fun, but on some level I think it's my failing.
riverbank From: riverbank Date: January 14th, 2003 12:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
yes! have fun with words. they can be used in an abstract way to convey feeling or solidly to get a cross a statement.
komos From: komos Date: January 15th, 2003 08:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Just thought of this... workswithwords has posted some remarkable abstract pieces that do much to convey feelings. On some level they could be seen as not making sense because there is not a clear linear structure evident, but they are brilliant.
riverbank From: riverbank Date: January 15th, 2003 03:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re:

thanks i'll take a look

in my own free ramblings i get caught up in description. i'm so visual, writing is new to me.
From: uruz Date: January 15th, 2003 06:10 am (UTC) (Link)
If I can express my opinion without fanning any flames... let's see.

Ironically enough, I barely understand the English language. We're taught how to speak, and how to read and write, but very rarely do anything but scratch the surface of understanding. I say 'we', meaning, the common person, without a literary degree. Myself, I've only begun to appreciate correcter speech and writing patterns. There's many grammatical faux pas I have committed, and I strive to correct myself when I am informed of my error.

That said, I must defend Shakespeare's writing as what it is. At the time, and still today, it is literary genius. The language is correct for the time in which it was written, and it gives us a glimpse as to the trends and styles of that time. And in defense of House of Leaves, while I've not read the book, I've heard about the odd style that it has, and I think it's innovative and interesting.

I suppose my whole peeve centers around the common man's communication, and not in great works of literature. If you participate in a medium where the written word is used, then your utmost concern should be ensuring that those who would read your communications have the easiest time on understanding them. There is no dialect in correct English, although someone using the phrase "y'all" would be acceptable if the person was from the South, for example. You don't type "yall", as that's an entirely different word.

Punctuation, capitalization, grammatical correctness and spelling are what's important to me. Without those, whatever meaning your opinion or idea has is cheapened.

What would you think if the Wall Street Journal was published with typos, bad grammar, and l33t sp34k?
komos From: komos Date: January 15th, 2003 07:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Shakespeare’s works also predate the great movements towards standardization in spelling and usage, and he takes great liberties for the sake of making words fit his meter. Even if we forgive him this, it’s not clear that he managed to meet the IA’s requirement to "be as clear as possible with as many people as possible" if we assume that he was writing for the time. A good deal of his work challenges the viewer even once you become familiar with his dialect, and I’m not sure that he intended to communicate greater truths to the "groundlings" in the audience for his plays, or that he wrote his sonnets with English pig farmers in mind.

I think you picked up on the issue with IA’s tack, however. It would be very easy to stray into a discussion of what does/does not make great literature, and that was never my intent. I wanted to talk specifically about language, and yes, language in common usage.

The problem with applying rigid standards to internet communication poses its own problems. For instance, for the sake of speed, there is a tendency to abbreviate to the point of incomprehensibility. IIRC, BRB, ROTFLMAO have all fallen into common usage, but have absolutely no meaning to someone who has not spent a fair amount of time in the medium. Other adaptations for the sake of speed are truncated spellings and the tendency to drop apostrophes, capitalization, and punctuation. Someone posting on IRC can write, "brb i nd 2 get fd," and reasonably expect to be understood by a certain audience. A fair number of people reading this, however will look at it and see an incomprehensible string of cononants. Similarly, because there is such an emphasis on speed, these trends tend to be accompanied with unintentional mistakes in spelling, grammar, and usage.

Your own aggressive online footprint is itself a kind of adaptive abbreviation for the sake of speed. While it’s quicker to toss out a quip or call someone a "retard" in response to something they said, I think it’s been demonstrated pretty clearly that the meaning behind those quips is often lost because the natural response to aggressiveness is defensiveness. You certainly convey a message, but the real meaning of what you are attempting to say is lost to the greater part of your audience.

The short answer? Basically, a forum allows anyone to have a voice, where everyone is attempting to use that voice as quickly as possible, breeds sloppiness.

Talking about the Wall Street Journal is another matter entirely. The WSJ is a document that is purchased specifically for the information that’s contained therein. The writers, editors, and analysts employed by the organizations are professionals. Since I am purchasing goods and services from individuals who are being paid to present accurate information in a manner that is as clear as possible, then yes, they are held to a different standard. I will hold books, business correspondence, magazines, and websites to that standard as well. Personal email, journal entries, and IRC communication? These tend reflect the personal quirks of the author or are reflective of a developing dialect in and of themselves.
From: uruz Date: January 15th, 2003 08:00 am (UTC) (Link)

I agree with most of the points you present above (and interesting how you tie in my quick off-the-cuff utterances into a similar vein of thought - touche, and well done) but I have to pick apart one statement, if you don't mind:

The short answer? Basically, a forum allows anyone to have a voice, where everyone is attempting to use that voice as quickly as possible, breeds sloppiness.

The last time that I checked, my Internet usage or words-per-minute score isn't being monitored second by second. Speed really isn't of issue, even for the hunt-and-peck typists. And while I might cross my eyes at an obvious typo (and I would most certainly *not* layeth the retard smackdown on someone for a simple typo) or an unnecessary abbreviation or acronym, my anger is directed mostly towards people who purposefully ignore simple rules like homonyms (there/they're/their) and text rules (your/you're) on a forum board or chat room under the premise of "its the internet, who cares, n00b".

Ignorance, my dear panda, is not bliss. And it makes Uruz angry.
komos From: komos Date: January 15th, 2003 08:51 am (UTC) (Link)
No, no one is being monitored, but because the forum allows communication that is effectively instantaneous, there is the perception that speed is vital. This is especially true in the case of IRC/IM, but also applies to message boards and lists. Responses that hit the list first receive the most attention. Generally, they make most of the salient points and make use of our natural short attention spans. This allows the author to grab the kudos (if there is any) for original thinking, or for the smackdown of someone who is obviously wrong thinking. Perception being 90% of reality, it really has become a factor.

Incidentally, in this thread alone, I’ve managed to drop a comma, used it’s instead of its, and at one point used the wrong verb form of to be. This was partly due to the speed of my responses and partly due to poor editing. (Either way, you can call it carelessness on my part.) In spite of these obvious and flagrant flubs, I’m pretty sure that I’ve managed to convey the desired meaning. The meaning is not entirely dependent upon the symbols. Yes, choosing the currently accepted use of the symbols does tend to convey meaning more concisely, but the meaning does not necessarily become obscured simply through poor usage. I can recognize that "your going to understand me" is non-standard usage, but I can infer that "your" is a sloppy use of "you are" as a subject/verb because its use as a possessive is non-sensical. There are other examples that could be more confusing, such as "your going to the store," but most of the time the intent is easily discernable from the context in which the structure falls. So while the meaning-centered argument is perhaps the strongest in support of a hard-line stance for accepted usage, I tend to think it falls short when applied to certain forums and certain audiences. (This isn’t to say that when meaning is obscured I won’t hold the author responsible for being unclear, but my experience online has been that such occurs most often because of errors in logic or just bad writing.)

At any rate, the post was intended to be an exploration of why I tend to be a lot more forgiving of these errors where others are driven batty. I can say, "they’re just not that important," but it was important to me to puzzle through why that’s the case.
skilletfriar From: skilletfriar Date: January 15th, 2003 07:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have always had a gut reaction against language. For some reason I have always thought without language. Lots of people say that that's how they think as well, but I am not sure. I can never prove this entirely, all I can do is ask people what they mean by "think in english." Personally I have realized that there is a level of thought more instantaneous than language; a level of thought that is translated by the brain into english (etc.). I have always described language as: a level of thought where the concept of the thought is rolled flat like cookie dough, and then cutters following the rules of grammer, dialect, semantics, etc, come along and chop the thought to bits. These bits are then lined up in a widely acceptable manner so as to be understood by another human thinking similar thoughts. (If I walked down the street wearing headphones and at an epiphanal part screamed at the dude next to me about it, he would [ hopefully] just toss his wallet and keep running.) Now, an overheard conversation at the bar, most likely this is an intance of any-joe taking his friends to the bar with his gums flapping.
(In my experience there are nearly always girl in those parties that would be happier with yours truly, but maybe they just don't know it..wink, wink)

However, the Poet might follow this rule that you mentioned: "Translation is another matter, and most translators will offer the caveat that their work is an interpretation more than anything else. The translator understands that any effort may come close, but will ultimately fail to convey the Truth of the original."

I think this is more of a metaphysical concept of what is a real thought before authentic translation can be judged. A true poet can take the cookie cutters of grammer etc. and throw them away because to him the subtlety of language has been taken over basic usage of language. The Poet can view language (and the grammatical rules therein) as the best tool available to describe a multi-dimensional flow of thought. SHe sees it as not a flattened amount of dough, but a river. Upon this river The Poet has access to a sequence of sticks floating end to end. As verbose, as eloquently used as The Poet's language is, SHe can only jump from stick to stick. Unfortunately for The Poet, SHe is stuck within the confines of the one-dimensionality of one word following another.

The Master Poet can frogger-style jump back and forth, word-chain to word-chain, and give true two-dimensional meaning to the words reprinted. This is a level of combination that is rarely overcome. I mean, Joe-Frat Party has never come close to this nonlinear level of lingual control. I think that people who truly master the translation of thought into language have fallen far short of thought in its entirety. The Hermit watches people jumping log to log, Frogger style and thinks about the fishes swimming beneath the logs. Or maybe SHe thinks about the delta at the end of the river, or maybe the ocean beyond.

I just think of how much language is thrown around that doesn't contribute to the actual description of any of the primary senses. At what level do I describe my own senses, and at what level am I playing The Part?

Next comes the example of the Poet: I heartily agree with your statemen
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