There is an ad on US TV where the poor sick lady sends a text message to her boss to find the auto-correcting device in her phone garbles the memo into a statement as embarrassing as it is erroneous.
No, today’s post is not about such auto-correctors although there would be enough to say on these alone ( as when the one in my blogging platform doubts words deemed fine by both the Webster and myself, sigh ).
Today, I want to talk seriously to my readers about language from vocabulary to turn of phrase to errors, ranging themselves from mistakes to knavery by way of lacking knowledge.
First, let’s rule out the last presented : knavery, deliberate lying in order to misrepresent are the extreme limit. If you know little in a given field, chances are that this type of improper expression will fool you. Outright lies may necessitate the reader to possess an equal amount of facts and reasoning for him/her to even only detect the deception. In that respect, it falls into psychology more than intent to express which is subjected to misuse from the onset. It still relates to writing and reading carefully though inasmuch as a single word, barely more, will suffice in stating an untruth. The problem however falls back into using language to express thoughts as soon as there is a blatant error. If a writer is not in possession of the needed information to transmit a truthful account to the readers, he/she expresses little if anything at all. A general case that can demonstrate this is that of the journalist asked to build a piece, from snippet to full-fledged article, outside their field of expertise. The ability to explain and inform is limited and errors could spring up without the author being able to even notice them. As an example related to the geo-political slant of this blog :
” Even AEDS who won the tender to supply 126 Rafale fighters, and in accordance with the tender terms was … “
You can read two mistakes in one half a sentence up there !!! First, the company’s name is EADS , short for European Aeronautic Defence and Space, not AEDS as seen. Second, the EADS group are not the makers of the Rafale combat aircraft but rather the ones making the plane that lost the competition against it! Dassault makes the Rafale.
So that this piece tells the unsuspecting reader erroneous facts : http://indrus.in/articles/2012/12/24/diversification_delhi-style_21241.html The article was penned for Russia & India Report or so it says in the title and credits. Either the author is willfully confusing matters ( likely not in this instance ) or twice mistaken adding a typo on an error or just not versed enough in the specific field of military matters & products to properly express an advanced opinion on the subject. And there we come back to considerations of thoughts versus expression, because someone asked the wrong writer to do the job!
Before you even write, choose a subject you know about? Even better, after attempting to write, check your prose and decide if it shows mastery?
In the Citations and quotes page at the top of this blog, one finds this excerpt :
Before writing then please learn to think.
Upon if our idea is more or less obscure,
Expression ensues, labored or assured.
What is understood well is easy to tell
and the words to say it come easily.
by the French writer known as Boileau whose The Poetic Art is a course in mixing thought with written word. The think before you write injunction is present under its simplest form when one is asked to write on a subject one does not own properly. Interpreters for instance, translators work towards their native language, to within the territory of speech and writing they most entirely possess!
And if it makes sense for the substrate, it makes sense for the content, does it not? So that if it is evident to all to write in a language they know, it follows to write on a matter that you know of. Going deeper, Boileau implies that one can spot upon re-reading their production if they thought correctly to begin with. You most certainly remember times when, attempting to carry a point to others, you ended up not being so sure where you were nor how you got there? Improper reasoning, my friends! When that happens, take it for granted that you should reflect on the matter some more.
So we need to know about stuff to express it! What else? Well, the vocabulary is important of course and I find that on average, most people lack there too … and not only people as explained in our opening segment. Why does the auto-corrector often mark words as incorrect when the even the Concise Collins on WordReference.com that I acknowledged in my opening post as my main on-line tool for the job ( Merriam-Webster to fall back upon, of course! ) finds no problem with them? Because it is to some extent limited as when it only accepts the American neighbor but not the British neighbour whereas I use both almost indifferently? Or that it picks on many proper nouns or names” In both cases, it lacks in knowledge be it basic or cultural. So first, think.
As a writer, my most important decision in writing a post remains the choice of the subject at the moment of writing. You have to feel ready, “in and up to it”.
We know that vocabulary is important from the simplest of phrases, check : “It’s not bad.”
What does that mean? You can suppose it is given in answer to a judgment of value on some work or by-product of it.
Still, what does it tell us? For sure the object of that comment is not bad. But it did not earn a positive expression of worth either, did it?
So I guess it cannot be good, can it?
This answer expresses such neutrality by logical induction without being descriptive that unless you factor in the expressions, tones and demeanors associated with its delivery, you would have to conclude that it essentially carries no information!?
In mathematics it reads 2=2 0r 509 = 509 Huh? Yeah? So?
Only when the individual words are accepted* and even up to the phrase level can one discern ideas of a purely conceptual nature as are often needed to talk geo-politics. Supposing you all acquainted with the individual terms, I give you the transformation of NATO. Initially geographic in nature since France, Belgium, the Netherlands,Luxembourg and even the UK through the Channel and North Sea are contiguous and came up with the first idea leading to it, it becomes loose at birth including the USA and Canada, Iceland and Portugal, all Atlantic bordering Nations but also Norway through the Norwegian/North Seas and Denmark as it was then the happy owner of Greenland, itself quite North Atlantic! And last Italy, to be sure an almost prototypical Mediterranean NATiOn?
So NATO is then a geographical military alliance although it terms itself an Organization. Interestingly, that organization did standardize military terminology or specific vocabulary in an ethnocentric manner around the American ways and uses again stressing the need for common bases to exchange meaningfully.
NATO since adopted countries as presented in this old post : Geopolitics of Neighbourhood, that are far from the North Atlantic by geography alone : Turkey, Bulgaria and now Ukraine awaiting entry. So that geographic may be barred and Military Alliance remains.
It so happens that in poorer parts of the world, there are also people that got the idea of securing regional peace and prosperity by way of international organizations. However, they worked in a new conceptual era. NATO grew up from the Second World War and includes provisions for members to cover each other over a huge expanse of planetary surface. The new breed was self-protective. They set up shop to assist each other in securing their geographic zone of interest. I came across the regional security bloc moniker and found it quite proper. Regional conveys geographical but adds a size constraint that indicates defensive purpose. Security is also both global and less inclusive than military, again hinting at a lesser emphasis on offense. And Bloc closes the circle as it describes an assemblage by aggregation, their common interest being dictated by their common geographic location.
If I was to use regional for NATO, the said region would be wide enough that Mongolia and Japan would have equal rights to be next on the invitation list!!!
So we just saw why we need to be precise in our choice of words as to convey logical information so that it may have meaning. We will come back to this on occasion, applying logic through language, philosophy, to show that one can make the mistakes described above in reading, listening, acquiring information in general just as well as when offering it. Also because I choose my words carefully enough myself as a habit, which I hope you good people had noticed? Then I’ll scold you again for not clicking on the links I provide, dear readers, for they provide confirmation of the knowledge I present. In the meanwhile, do remember and examine more closely again that Boileau poetry up there. Think before expressing, my friends and observe your work critically to see if indeed your ideas are coming out right so that you may correct your thoughts of them before attempting to share anew.
And do complain if you find me cheating at that rule in your honest opinion!
Good day all, Tay.
* Shared by emitter and receiver.