Friday, October 8, 2010

little known fact #1

I'm 98% certain that everyone who regularly reads this blog actually knows me.  But sometimes I like to dream of a time when I'm famous for these ramblings and folks will flock here and pore over the archives of my early days.  So I'm starting a new series (maybe) that will help those future fans (who truly are the imaginary readers I reference so often) get to know the real ellen--because you know, I've been doing such a first-rate job of not talking about myself up until now.  And perhaps, some of you who are actually acquainted with me will still learn something from these "little known facts."

LKF1:  It makes me crazy when speakers, writers, preachers, etc. define a word as a part of their speech/essay/sermon.  Serious pet peeve. (Also I hate the term pet peeve--you can consider that a little known fact bonus.)

You know what I"m talking about, don't you, imaginary readers?  Someone starts with a line such as
"Webster's Dictionary defines dog as 'a highly variable domestic mammal closely related to the gray wolf ' . . ." and then spends the next twenty minutes explaining that there's so much more to dogs than that.  Of course, there's more to a dog--or any thing, concept, idea, emotion, or action--than a definition can contain.  Words and what they represent don't exist in a vacuum.  Everything exists in context--every word, or every important word has a connotation.

And no one ever defines words that actually need a definition.  No one's out there giving speeches that begin with the definition of propinquity (in fact, I find the lack of use of propinquity to be a real tragedy). Unless one's central point revolves around a word which is outside the regular vocabulary of one's listeners/readers, defining a word is patronizing. 

This device just seems like a cop-out to me, as though the writer/speaker doesn't know how to begin.  When that's due to inexperience, I am much more forgiving than when it's someone who should know better.  It feels so formulaic--like a example introduction that someone picked off a list in the fifth-grade and has been using ever since.  It might work for an eleven-year-old, but it's just not okay for an adult. 

I have a blog post in me right now that I can't get started.  I've worked with a few different openings, and I haven't found a smooth transition yet, so yesterday I decided I could do that defining the word thing that people sometimes do.  I got as far as looking up the word, and that's when I realized how pompous and annoying I find it.  So you won't see that type of intro around here any time soon.

******Possibly offensive and definitely insecure blogger's note:  If any of my faithful friends/fellow bloggers have done this before, I promise I haven't judged you as harshly as it may seem.  I didn't have anyone in mind when I wrote this, and I still love you, even if you do this.  Additionally, I'll make sure that my next little known fact is not so negative.******

So . . . did you know that about me?

1 comment:

  1. I can't say that I knew it, but I'm not surprised. Everyone should hate that. There's nothing wrong with defining your terms so long as its done either subtly ("Theology matters. Asking questions about who God is and what He is like is an important task for all Christians") or if it's the point of the sermon itself (What is Justification?). Speakers should be fined $100 every time they say, "Webster defines _____ as ...."


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