Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Using words for the first time

I used the phrase 'paradigm shift' in my post 'The lie of the leadership pyramid.' It was the first time I had ever used the phrase in writing and I caught myself wondering if I really knew what it meant. I used it to mean a complete 180 change of perspective. I think that's right but as I right this I'm off the grid in North Devon and have no way to check.

I think this happens quite often. I'm pretty sure that I understand something and so I go ahead and talk about it as if I'm 100% sure. As a teacher you get used to speaking with authority about stuff. It's an authority I can get used to, rely upon or even become downright lazy with. But when it is challenged, I find myself in an interesting predicament. How do you explain what you're not quite sure about?

Worse if no-one challenges you and you continue making the mistake that you first made.

It reminds me of the story of 'hirsute' man - which I'm not sure is urban myth or fact.

Apparently there was this bloke who used the word 'hirsute' to mean 'therefore'. He would say things like "Hirsute, we can solve the problem by..." and "I am becoming rather thirsty, hirsute I will need another cup of coffee."

Unfortunately 'hirsute' doesn't mean 'therefore'.

'Hirsute' means 'hairy'.

When, he found this out, the man who was in his 40s was so mortified by his years of erroneous word-use he promptly killed himself.

A tragic tale, but one with a salient point for those of us who are prone to a high degree of barely accurate verbosity.

Sent from my thingamajig

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