Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Let's simplify things

The world we live in is a complex one. Though things like facebook, internet, phones, faxes etc. may make it seem smaller, it is still a complex place. Let's think for a minute about language.
Forget that Ethnologue lists 6912 living languages in the world today, and let's discuss the English language.

I have lived on several continents and travelled all over the world. Travelling from one English speaking country to another, it does not matter that everyone is speaking "supposedly" the same language, there are some stark and confusing differences.

For example: Trunk can mean - part of an elephants anatomy, the back end of a vehicle, someones bum (as in "junk in the trunk"). Scones in England are biscuits in the USA. Biscuits in England are Cookies in the USA. But again, I am looking at this too broadly.

Let's narrow the English language comparison to just WITHIN one country. From East to West, North to South, you can travel within a country without ever crossing an international border and experience hundreds of different dialects, colloquialisms, pronunciations and just plain confusion over words. (remind me sometime to talk about roads, streets, woods, hay and straw - which I learned mean VERY different things in Rural Alberta!)

I think it is time for us to come together, to unite, and to determine that some words should be completely eliminated and other words should become universal.

I think we need to totally eliminate "left and right". "distal", "medial", "proximal", "democrat", republican".... all these are words that people use to mean "left" and "right". I have a proposition to make.

Let's go back to ship talk. That's right, ship talk.

Lengthwise direction on a ship is fore and aft. Crosswise is athwartships. The front of the ship is the bow, and the rearmost is the stern. To move forward toward the bow is to go forward, and to move toward the stern is to go aft. A ship is divided lengthwise in half by the centerline. When you face forward along the centerline, everything to your right is starboard and everything to your left is port. You never go downstairs in a ship -- you go below. To go up is to go topside. But if you climb the mast, stacks, rigging or any other area above the highest solid structure, you are going aloft.

I am going to implement it into my speech immediately and see if it catches on. This could be revolutionary.

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