Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Any- and All-words

The loosest terms going, or the first five entries to the laxicon of free-floaters:

1. Interactive (adj): between something or other and something else
2. Social (adj): A. togethering and whatnot; B. with people
3. Technology (n): A. tools and such; B. the intricate logics of tools and such.
4. Discourse (n): language stuff
5. Image (n): A. any of a number of lookseegawks; B. a picture

Nah, I'm not calling for constricted usage.  Yet these are a few of the ones that, when they get used, stir me to quietly wondering just what's meant.  Simply, they're ballooning with connotations.

Bookmark and Share Posted by at February 21, 2006 8:30 PM to Unspecified

You know, I kept hearing a snowboarder-turned-NBC-sports-commentator describe particular moves as "technical"--"That's a really technical move, dude." Truly a sign of a free-floating signifier...or, at least, a signifier sailing over the half-pipe...

Posted by: susansinclair at February 21, 2006 9:15 PM

Good one. Maybe we could grant that the snowboarding commentators don't get much practice? Plus, with some of these sports, what can be said about them..."whoa, that was really technical." Heh. I haven't watched any of the winter games, but I'd guess "technical" is the most technical-sounding descripter they've got for moves they like. But then I'm probably underestimating the complexity of snowboarding. It's not like I can even do it.

Posted by: Derek at February 21, 2006 9:36 PM

7. For students' descriptions of writing: "Flow" (n, v).
8. For instructors' responses to student writing: "Interesting" (adj).

Posted by: Mike at February 21, 2006 10:31 PM

Good I like these additions, Mike. Geez...now I feel as stymied by "good" as by "interesting." As long as it's qualified with support, yes? Interesting why? Good why? Honestly, I'm remiss about the use of "interesting," and I'm not sure that my other baggy descriptors (thoughtful, clever, careful) are any better.

As for "flow," I can imagine a clause in the syllabus promising that anyone who refers to the flow of their writing will bear the duty of presenting on Csikszentmihalyi's book. A second infraction gets _A Thousand Plateaus_.

Posted by: Derek at February 22, 2006 8:45 AM

I used to have (what I thought was) a snazzy little mini-lecture on the varieties of "flow" (logical transitions between paragraphs and ideas, linguistic transitions between paragraphs and ideas, stylistic devices such as rhythm and diction, and then the whole zen/psych Csikszenwhatsisname phenomenon, contra the overquoted and ridiculously vague Castells "space of flows" thing) and the varieties of "interest" (the opposite of uninterested as unconcerned, the opposite of disinterested as not having a dog in the fight, and then the idea of the accretive compounding of textual value in a social [oops] setting). After using it a couple times, though, it just got to feeling pedagogically smug, so I put it on the don't-do-that-anymore teacher's shelf.

Posted by: Mike at February 22, 2006 11:33 PM