Mar 01 2016

Sometimes It Really Is What Words You Say

I have many little quirks when it comes to language, and how people use it. On one hand, I’m all for people talking however they want. I make odd word choices myself, often. On the other hand, though, when I am not making a word-salad out of my ideas, I like to be as precise as possible in what I say. More correctly, I like to use the exact, accurate word for something whenever I can, as to eliminate any ambiguity, or incorrectness. This is much to the annoyance of my friends, but it’s just something that developed in me. Perhaps it’s also related to being corrected as a child on things I really cared nothing about. Who knows. The origins of this quirk don’t change the fact that I have it.

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To better explain, I tend to avoid the casual terms for things. I avoid trademarked names for products; I will say tissue instead of Kleenex, I will say Cotton Swab instead of Q-Tip, and I will say bandage instead of Band-Aid.

I’m also one of those people who will say “Lego bricks” instead of the much more common “Lego’s” term that everyone uses: After all, both fans of Lego, and the company itself, stress that the product are “Lego brand construction blocks”, and as such, Lego is the brand name only, and the items themselves are blocks.

Then again, I am equally likely to say Velcro for hook-and-loop fasteners, Tylenol for Acetaminophen, and other common generic usages of brand names. Can’t escape em all, but I am aware of when I do it. I’m guilty of this too, and I don’t mean any blame or shame on such. This is one of those odd things that takes more explanation than normal, but that’s common for my writing, isn’t it?

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See what I mean, though? That’s how my brain runs on these things. However, this is correct. This is proper. This just isn’t common. Most people don’t care to be so exact, and if you were to try to correct them, you would be met with quite the hostile reaction. Somewhat understandable, due to human nature, but think about this: If you said something wrong, and they knew it was incorrect, would they not, in many cases try to correct you on it?

Look at music genres. There are very, well, generic terms for certain types. People who are more in depth will often times correct you if you use one of these broad terms, going much more specific. For example a track you might call “techno” might actually be a mid 90’s club-house tune. You might not care, but the person who takes such as a serious hobby clearly does care.

Let me make another analogy, going to that old standby I always do of cars.

Let’s say you buy a new Ford F150, a very well known pickup truck, and your friend says “Hey, nice car.” You are going to look at them quite oddly, aren’t you? They just called a truck a car; virtually everyone should know the difference between the two, but this person, for whatever reason, said the other. Maybe to them, the difference doesn’t matter. They don’t care, but you do. See what I mean? The analogy may not be perfect, but I think the idea carries; one party cares to be precise, while the other cares nothing for such, deeming such accuracy unnecessary.

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The really funny thing about this is in the more geeky circles, the gamers and the tech types, where you would think everyone would be precise as possible, instead you get quite the lack of accuracy in terms, with sometimes just plain incorrect things being said at times. This goes beyond, for example the whole “Gif” debate to all kinds of other, seemingly mundane things. Odd game console names (“regular Nintendo” instead of NES, DS2 for the Nintendo 2DS, or Disney Xfinity (the Comcast service) instead of Disney Infinity), calling every capture device, be it a computer expansion card, or an external device a “capture card” (terribly incorrect), or any other odd, seemingly insignificant little oddity you could imagine; not all of them, but many, make me question if the person actually cares about what they are discussing, or what they know about the subject.

Why does this matter? Because, regardless of the subject matter, it affects what you think of the person in the conversation. Like I mentioned earlier, in the truck vs car example, you would question anyone who said your truck was a car. In this same regard, people who seem to be extremely passionate about something such a gaming, yet would call every video capture device a “capture card” just don’t seem to be as passionate as, perhaps, the person who they may be chatting with, or arguing against, as the internet would have it. This falls in with the subject of a future article, but I will say here that it seems many communities that were once filled with extremely passionate fans now seem to be filled with more casual, and passive fans.

That’s fine. Any group should welcome newcomers. Everyone starts somewhere. However, when someone acts like they know what they are talking about, yet uses such casual language, it can devalue what they say. I’m certainly not saying to be in a group you need to become an expert on every term, no no, but those with a natural interest in the subject (such as me and space travel) will learn the terms; you will quickly be able to “talk the talk” as well as “walk the walk” so they say.

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There is something about being precise in terms that shows a person cares about the subject they are discussing. It may seem insignificant, but it really is true; the words you use to talk about something sometimes can tell a person more than the point you are trying to make.

It just makes me think, I guess; those little cues that tell you just how into something someone might actually be. I find such quite interesting, anyway.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.xadara.com/what-words-you-say/

2 comments

  1. I tend to agree with what you say by the nature of the fact that when we commonly speak about something, terms tend to become reccurent. But my own personal experience is just saying no in most cases! Because the reason which why we can become more “advanced” than the masses, it’s because basically are working in the dark, in the underground… So the term that we develop is always a community thing. The most underground you are, the most far that you are in the subject, but the term that you gonna use, usually gonna be very odd for those who aren’t part of the community which you are inside.

    Yes, I understand that we aren’t anymore in the phone BBS era where every communities were hermetic so there is many network who tend to be affiliated or to fuse togheter which let less space to be marginal, so everything become balised. But still, we must remember a base that we live since our childhood in school. It’s not because that we are a peon in the middle of the masses that it mean everybody who have interest in the same thing you do, gonna be interested to join you… “Lonely cowboys/cowgirls” are everywhere in society, eventually they got some friends and they build their own terminology outside the social normality. And despite the fact that they gonna develop some kind of expertise of what they are doing, many just won’t care to use standardized terminology…

    So yes i agree with you that inside a SAME community the way we use a word tend to say a lot about the person, but when an outsider arrive in a community, they won’t necessarily be a “backwarder” despite using words that doesn’t belong to terminology accepted by the community….

    I will never say NES, despite that’s the word used by most blogger/vlogger to talk about the Nintendo 8-Bit… And yes i will always say Nintendo 8-Bit whatever people think about the way i’m using this terminology. Because the 8 Bit does explain that i’m not talking about the company but the North American version of the Famicom.

    I will never say 2DS, i will always say Nintendo 2DS for me it’s a shame to reduce it to 2DS… Why? Because 2DS is the original term used in the 80’s for ColecoVision Racing Wheel controllers before it became renamed “Expansion Module #2″… 2 = Expansion module #2, D = Driving, S = Steering.

    So you know what i mean? Some terms cannot be GLOBALLY standarized as many aspect of expertise can be developped which also will develop you a mecanism that will lead to use name differently… A Nintendo 2DS freak will always say 2DS, but a retrogamer will say Nintendo 2DS despite these two have some kind of expertize in the “thing”. These ambiguities despending of your objectives are always important, but it doesn’t automaticaly define your expertize level.

    1. Oh yes, I see what you mean. It does depend on the person. Interestingly, though, the examples you use all seem within reason: you are simply being exact with the words you say, more than even I might be.

      It is a slightly different case when you or I are exact like that, when compared to someone being extremely causal in how they say things.

      In the end, it does depend on the person, but I feel when a company says something has X or Y name, or when the person who made something claims it should be a certain way, we should respect that wish. Again, though, in your example, I don’t think anyone at Nintendo would complain about you using a full, precise name.

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