Thursday, February 22, 2007

Dave say ...

That is not a typo in the title. Only supposed to be a single 's'. For why, read the previous post, bruah up on 80s pop culture, and hide yourself.

This post is a tangent twice removed on entries I haven't made yet. I was planning a post on 'meaning'. More like 4-5 now. Short overview: ain't none, at least in any universal cosmic sense.

But anyway, back to Dave say ....


An online dictionary does a 'word of the day'. Often it is not a word I would actually use, but 'grok'is something I use all the time. It was word of the day one day last week. Kind of a thrill seeing it in a dictionary. The word entered English in the classic novel Stranger in a Strange Land. The OED defines it "to understand intuitively or by empathy; to establish rapport with". It began being used within 60s counter culture and SF fandom. Has been part of my vocabulary for a long time.


Reminded me of the dangers of referencing something when the communication's recipient is unaware of the reference. I was speaking with a sales rep (that's what I do at work) and closing off the call by asking if there were any other questions he had for me. 'Yes, what is the meaning of life?' he asked. He was making a joke, but without missing a beat I said '42'. Confusion followed. He didn't grok that at all. So I had to explain about The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy, the question of life, the universe and everything, and so on. Not nearly as entertaining as the original off-hand comment.


Similar situation, different call. The lesson here was that just because one has a vocabulary doesn't mean it should be used. Part of knowing what to say is knowing what NOT to say.

'dishwater blonde'

One of the most difficult things I ever did in Russian class was try to learn a list of 40 or so hair colors. I found this especially difficult because that is about four times as many hair colors as I have a handle on in my native tongue. One of the colors that has meaning to me is 'dishwater blonde'. On my former job a coworker asked me what I would call her haircolor (I can't remeber why, just that she asked). "Dishwater blonde", I replied. She really wasn't happy that I would use the adjective 'dishwater' in reference to her hair. To me, 'dishwater' was just an adjective to modify 'blonde' so I was describing her particular hair color. To her it had implecations of ickyness. Same words, different 'meanings'. So what does 'dishwater' mean in a universal sense?

Somewhere else

The scientist flips a switch. Electricity arcs.


The room shakes as if in an earthquake. The scientist thrusts out a hand to avoid being thrown to the ground.


1 comment:

Jason said...

You should make it easy to tell WTF you are talking about.