Wordpower

Relativity by M. C. Escher - 1953

Relativity by M. C. Escher – 1953

“Gloriously expert position. I merely bumbled upon your fastidious post and desired to articulate that I have really relished understanding your blog articles.” Genuine spam comment.

Understanding? I wish I could say the same of the comment. The spam box is a constant source of delight as improper comprehension and lack of fluency is added to the obvious misuse of translation software to produce masterpieces such as this.

Of course, in spite of the gloriously ludicrous phraseology, the intent of the writer is clear in the statement. He or she is being very complimentary, even though it is designed simply to flatter the ego, thus gaining approved status and the ability to spam. Even that aspect is clear, opening yet another layer of understanding. We can deduce also that English is unlikely to be their first language… and that they are being paid for their efforts.
It must be a terribly boring job. I dread to think of the criteria for being paid per comment, or indeed the pittance they are probably being paid. Which leads me to infer that regardless of intellect and technical ability the spammer is probably living in relative poverty. However, while I might applaud their industry I would still consign those who pay deliberate spammers to perdition. Except they are providing work and income… it is always difficult to judge when you start looking.

However, I digress.

So, it is possible, as we see, to deduce and infer an awful lot from that single, almost meaningless statement. It is a bit like the classic examples such as estate agent-ese where the words we are given imply a whole other world of meaning… where ‘compact’ means the size of a rabbit hutch and ‘quaint’ implies that while it may have delightful beams and roses round the door, you need to look seriously at the plumbing. Words alone mean very little on their own, they need context and interpretation on far more levels than the surface alone.

Out of curiosity I ran a few things through a readability calculator… as recommended by one of those articles aimed at teaching writers their trade. These things use a number of tests and generally give an age range for which a piece of work is suitable as far as vocabulary and structure are concerned. One of the pieces was my own and came back with an age range of 14. One was an article on the enneagram from the School website; this had an average age of 18. All well and good. Where it all fell down was Stuart’s Perspectives on Perception, which came back as suitable for 8-9 year olds… and while the language is crystal clear, the concepts behind the words are deep enough to repay profound study. A child could indeed read it, but would youth have the knowledge, experience and understanding to fully grasp the meaning behind the words?

We all bring our own perspectives to the perception of the words we encounter, reading invisible backstories into a tone of voice or a choice or phrase. Words are emotive things… magical creations that can convey exactitude or leave an entire universe of imagination a place in which to play and explore. We colour words with our own emotions, often reading into them what was not there, through desire, fear or inattention.

They are powerful things words and emotions. Like the roast chicken, for example. I, quite accurately said, “We have chicken for dinner.” The dog hears only through her desire “… chicken for dinner…” and my inattention leaves me picking up the decimated carcass when she’s finished…

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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16 Responses to Wordpower

  1. alienorajt says:

    An excellent, thought-provoking post, Sue. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Context matters. Which is what is wrong with so much of the crap on the Internet. AND on the so-called news. Quotes taken out of context and turned around to mean something very different than originally intended. Of course, that’s not counting the outright lies that people make up and print as truth.

    Now spam … that’s always in context. It’s own context. The last two days I’ve been besieged by Chinese spam. HUGE messages, about 10,000 Chinese characters long (each). They slip right through WordPress’s spam net probably because it can’t read Chinese. They persist in asking me if I want a translation, but it’s the same spam I get from Germany, Malaysia, and everywhere else … an endless list of shopping links and a dollop of malicious adware. Oh joy!

    Like

  3. if I see so much as inch of a “readabilty calculator” near my words, I’ll smash it with a metaphorical baseball bat

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      But Paul, the publishers recommend them…*chokes quietly*…
      Makes you wonder, doesn’t it, how many literary greats would now be dismissed as not conforming to the ‘rules’. Thank goodness for Indie publishing!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Éilis Niamh says:

    Are you sure the spam is even from real actual people these days? It could be all or mostly computer generated and automated. It’s still irritating, either way! Fortunately I don’t get much spam on wordpress. But then, I also don’t read through my comments that wordpress marks as spam, it seems to put through the main commenters who usually frequent my blog and be accurate about it. I’m glad for indie authors, and film makers. We need more diversity, more voices, fewer rules, and perhaps we won’t ever be able to entirely get rid of the spam. Honestly people can spam face to face conversations, perhaps not as frequently, but definitely as effectively as people spam the internet. I feel that sorting through the dirt for the poppy seeds, as it were, is a skill, the acquisition of which actually makes us better, more discerning people.

    Like

  5. Eliza Waters says:

    There are words and then there’s the word artist. Like beauty being in the eye of the beholder, you are quite right about our experience and perception coloring our interpretation of the words we read. Readability calculators, it feels positively inhuman! ‘1984’ here we come!

    Like

  6. noelleg44 says:

    Perfect pairing of the nonsense span with the going nowhere Escher!

    Like

  7. I, too, am often shaking my head as I read the comments sent directly to my spam folder. But perception – at least as far as that chicken was concerned to Ani – is in the eye of the beholder. Here’s to clearer and more sincere communication in 2015. Happy New Year, Sue. 😉

    Like

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