[NTLK] Apostrophe?

James Fraser wheresthatistanbul-newtontalk at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 5 07:35:27 EST 2012


--- On Mon, 12/3/12, Doug Denby <ddenby at rogers.com> wrote:

>There was a time when reading was the purview of only a select group of >scholars, who had to try to decipher meaning from a gobbledygook of >letters on the page.

In a way, those were the Good Old Days, weren't they?

What I mean is: a great deal of what I read on the InterTubes (and, perhaps somewhat more alarmingly, what I see in "serious" mainstream print media) is, more and more, taking on the aspect of a "gobbledegook of letters."  

The whole point to language, after all, is to convey meaning.  Speaking for myself (and at the risk of sounding like some sort of cranky old man), I seem to encounter less and less writing that is capable of fulfilling its duty and carrying the point.

>Sometimes he was considered blasphemy to think that the common person was >capable of reading anything.

I'm not as concerned with the ability (or inability) to read as I am with the inability to write.  Margaret Atwood said something years ago that has disturbed me ever since.  She said, "A word after a word after a word is power."

The impression I'm left with, rightly or wrongly, is that a great many of the folks coming out of public schools (the US definition of "public schools," that is, for you UK readers) will shortly be joining the ranks of the powerless.  I don't mean that in a dismissive sort of way (it's not reasonable, after all, to get angry at someone who lacks something they were never given), only that when a man or woman lacks the ability to construct sentences in a cogent and coherent way, their chances of being able to change the world are slim to none.

I don't think you have to be Steve Jobs in order to want to change the world; when you think about it, we -all- effect change.  It's just that putting a word after a word after a word in such a way as to effectively communicate a set of ideas and effect -more- change -more- often shouldn't be the purview of a relatively limited number of people.  

Rightly or wrongly, I'm convinced that the ability to communicate effectively is something that's limited, in relative terms, to few people.  And they seem to be getting fewer all the time.  Or maybe it's as simple as my math not being as good as I think it is. [shrugs]

There's a scene in the film "Enter the Dragon" where the Bad Guy (Han) is giving one of the good guys (Roper) a tour through his personal museum.  At one point, he says to Roper, "Who knows what delicate wonders have died out of the world for want of the strength to survive."  I've always wondered how many ideas (and good ones) have never seen the light of day due to the inability of the people who *had* the ideas to express them to other people in an effective and meaningful way.

Sad, really.  Of course, there are a lot of bad ideas, too, so perhaps it all evens out.


James Fraser

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