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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49 Responses to Wordpower

  1. barbtaub says:

    It was spam, of course, but his simple and blatant begging made it through WordPress’ SPAM filter and took me by surprise. “Plz, can someone here Beleive me and render me Fast Rescue Charity this month to Survive”

    He didn’t beat around the bush, but asked for 3500 to see him through the month. Even as I consigned his comments to the SPAM dungeon, I admired his total lack of pretence or flattery.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      I’ve had a couple of those lately…
      Mind you, I did wonder about simply replying with my current situation, as I try to jump through the hoops that might allow me to access some kind of income which I’m unable to work…they might take pity 😉

      Like

  2. willowdot21 says:

    Ruby is with Ani on the chicken carcass! 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I do give my spam a cursory look on the front page which is as far as I get.. mine seem to have an obsession with viagra, some going into quite detailed accounts of the reasons for taking it, and copious links which will never get through the spam net, so not sure what they hope to achieve. As you say many are being paid a pittance to churn these posts out and it is those behind the scenes who need to be relegated to the spam bin..xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jenanita01 says:

    Words… we have to be so careful with the words we use, or don’t use. We could do without that automatic spellchecker too, as it makes a mockery of every sentence!

    Like

  5. I love some of the comments I get that are so totally unrelated to the post to which they refer! Never really thought along the lines of people being paid to write them though.
    The written word is rarely interpreted by the reader the way the writer intends, and just the placement of a comma in a different place can imply such a different meaning.
    I can just see Ani with the chicken. Have a good day Sue.

    Like

  6. memadtwo says:

    Words do have power, and I like the open-endedness of language, even if it can be subject to misinterpretation. Words are only symbols after all.
    The depths people must sink to to survive are a judgement on our societies and culture I think. I hate it every time our politicians claim they are just lazy and don’t deserve a helping hand. (K)

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      People will do almost anything when it mans the difference between survival or not… expecially when they have children to care for too. Poverty is still a huge problem, even behind the facade of our so-called civilised societies.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. trishsplace says:

    This was very interesting. And yes, interpretation can be quite subjective.

    Like

  8. SC Skillman says:

    This does remind me of an occasion when, at the age of 15, I wrote a letter to my French pen friend and used my woeful ‘mastery’ of school French to convey the fact that I had just bought a new dress in a flower-print material. I remember the phrase that I used, which I cobbled together from words found in a French-English dictionary. ‘avec un fabric fleurie’ (or something like that). Later on, I was on holiday in Paris, staying with my friend and her family. I shall always remember her father repeating the phrase I used in my letter, and he was in gales of laughter. He never did fully explain to me what the sense of my phrase was, to a French native, and why the way I had expressed myself had been so hilarious. Reading your spam message (of the type I have received several times) I do get a sense of how my sentence must have come over to French speakers. Utterly ludicrous, probably.

    Like

  9. I’ve always felt children/youth could benefit from the enneagram journey 😉💙

    Like

  10. Jim Borden says:

    dogs don’t miss any opportunity…

    Like

  11. Cathy Cade says:

    Been there (the dog and the Christmas turkey) twice.
    The first time we had at least eaten from it first. We left it on the table and forgot to shut the dining room door properly (turkey carcase was bigger than the terrier).
    Second time was a whippet with failing liver (therefore insatiable hunger). The turkey was dressed for the oven and left on a high shelf in the laundry room – heaven knows how she got up there to tip the tray. When we came downstairs, she lay on her side on the floor looking like a sausage about to burst its skin. Her tail thumped feebly. The other two dogs looked at me as if to say ‘It wasn’t me’. she’d had the thigh and half a breast. Fortunately, my son was about to go in to cook Christmas dinner in his pub and had defrosted too much turkey. I gave him a frozen leg of lamb and he gave me two turkey crowns, so my family and my sister’s and our mother had our Christmas dinner.

    Like

    • V.M.Sang says:

      We had a similar experience with a friend’s dog when they were staying with us. (Remember those days when friends came to stay?) We were sitting around the table, and the roast beef was in the kitchen. Suddenly we heard a crash and the dog (a black labrador) had jumped up and managed to pull the dish with t he beef on onto t he floor. Fortunately she hadn’t eaten too much, and we were able to salvage most of it. We still laugh about it, although it wasn’t so funny at the time. Poor dog was in the ‘doghouse’ for the rest of the day.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Oh but Ibet she enjoyed herself 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. V.M.Sang says:

    In the late 60s, I think it was, there was a thing called ITA, or Initial Teaching Alphabet. Basically, it spelled phonetically, with a few new characters for specific sounds.
    My Education Lecturer, when I was training to be a teacher, did not like this alphabet. He quoted one headteacher who, to an inspector, sang its praises, and called a child (very early years of schooling) and gave said child a copy of, I think it was Shakespeare. He asked the child to read and he did perfectly.
    ‘See how well he can read after learning with this new alphabet.’ the head teacher said.
    ‘Yes,’ the inspector replied, ‘but how much does he understand? What’s the point of being able to read something you can’t understand?’

    Like

  13. The results of the readability calculator are interesting. I’ve “read” that we should aim for 5th grade readability for fiction, but even so the nuances of language and meaning go beyond words. Spam… that’s a whole other topic and thanks for adding some perspective to that as well. I guess I better go check. 🙂

    Like

  14. Frank Hubeny says:

    I like the description: “Genuine spam”. It reminds me to check the spam folder to make sure no real comments are placed there.

    Like

  15. Jennie says:

    Well said, Sue!

    Liked by 1 person

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