Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A moment in my life....

I'm currently reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss (a recommendation from my wonderful mother). In it I just read a quote from Alice in Wonderland which I'd very much like to share with all of you. It basically describes perfectly my present state in life. I sometimes have difficulties articulating exactly what I want to, so when I come across things that do so perfectly, I'm always a little excited. :)

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.

"I don't much care where..." said Alice.

"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.

--Lewis Carroll

Monday, April 26, 2010

Falling off the edge of the world...

Among the many other interesting things that have kept me completely occupied in the last month, I finally graduated this last Thursday/Friday from Brigham Young University with a BA in Linguistics and two minors (World Dance and TESOL). I also packed up my life's belongings (or at least those acquired over the last four years) and drove several thousand miles across the country to my home in Indiana. Not bad for a weekend.

It is all very exciting in a somewhat soul-shattering way. On the one hand it is fantastic that I'm finished with school and that I have an endless amount of possibilities in front of me, but on the other hand, they're endless! What I'm basically saying is that, while I'm thrilled to have graduated, I have little to no idea what I'm going to do now and that notion is a somewhat frightening feeling. It grips the soul with a kind of fear of the lack of direction.

But, I know I'm not the first one to experience this sensation, nor the last, and that I'm definitely not alone in my search for something to focus my life on.

It'll be fun. It always is. :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Meaning of Words

As I was meandering across the internet this morning I happened across this pretty little article:

Not all terrorism: Obama tries to change subject

The article begins,

"President Barack Obama's advisers plan to remove terms such as "Islamic radicalism" from a document outlining national security strategy and will use the new version to emphasize that the U.S. does not view Muslim nations through the lens of terrorism, counterterrorism officials say."

The article goes on to talk about a variety of interesting points related to the changes being made as well as other topics such as vaccines and polio. Now, I know it may seem like President Obama is just playing with words and rhetoric to make it appear as if he were actually doing something (for those of you who believe that he isn't), but changing those simple words has more of an effect than most of us probably realize. I recognize that I'm not exactly an authority on politics, or even on linguistics, my chosen field of study, but it always amazes me how little credit most people give to the power of words.

Simply changing one word can change peoples' entire perspective on or attitude towards that subject. For example, it has always bugged me when people use the word "gay" as an adjective to describe something that is stupid or unfair. I realize that the history of the word goes back farther than its present state, but looking at the context of the word now, used most often to describe people who are homosexual, I hate that other people feel like it is alright to attach the connotation of stupid and unfair to homosexual. It just seems entirely disrespectful to me. Go ahead and believe whatever you want to, but respect other people's beliefs as well. Use words appropriately. Or at least try.

Anyway, in this case it isn't about sexual orientation or pejoration, but it is leaning in that direction. I just think it is pretty awesome that we are trying to step away from the stereotypes and trying to improve our foreign policy and respect different peoples as a whole. There will always be extremists but not everyone associated with those extremists are necessarily also extremists. That's a ridiculous thing to assume. In the case of this article we're trying to change our word choices to increase our respect for other religions and cultures. While the change of a word may not seem to have immediate results, and it probably won't, the long term results of that simple change are much more likely to be felt. It is more than the change of a word, it is the change of an entire perspective. Words reflect what is going on in our minds, and if we change those words we can potentially change our minds as well. And in this case, I don't think that would be such a bad thing.