Archive for the 'Language' Category

Nothing new under the sun

Keith March 10th, 2008

My wife Marilyn and I have got away for the long weekend to Lorne (on the Victorian south-west coast, on the Great Ocean Road).  Found a delightful place to stay – Shepherd’s Rest.  This is a modern two-bedroom apartment, on the top level of a new house in North Lorne.  It is owned by a couple of artists, who have moved down from further north in Victoria, where they ran a farm. 

The place is totally delightful, decorated with a wide range of pieces of art.  It is only two blocks back from the beach, and only a short walk from where my uncle once had a holiday house, where I spent many happy holidays as a child.  It was interesting walking on the beach here again for the first time for many years.  The beach has changed a lot – a large amount of sand has been washed away.

There is a good supply of holiday reading in the bookshelves here.  One book is of a type I have never seen before.  It is a taste of absolutely brash commercialism from the 1890s (precise date not specified).  It is Dougal’s Index Register to Next of Kin, Heirs at Law, and cases of Unclaimed Money Advertisements.  At least, that is the short form of the title.  The title page expands this out to a grand total of 85 words, including several et ceteras (then spelt as “&c.” – the ampersand sign comes from the letters “et” – the Latin for “and”). 

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Keith November 20th, 2007

“A diplomat is a person who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip.”
 - Caskie Stinnett

Any noun can be verbed

Keith October 22nd, 2007

“I’m sorry sir, that will have to be cloaked”.

That’s what the doorman told me as I entered the Hamer Hall for my final visit to a school Presentation night. I was encumbered with my daughter Lauren’s schoolbag. This year she is completing Year 12, so this year is our last as parents of school children.

“Cloaked”? It conjures an image of stealth bombers. Or maybe, given the school context, Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility. That would have been handy – it would have saved me going back downstairs to find the cloak room, lodging the bag and traipsing back up to Door 9.

Obviously, in the doorman’s world, the meaning of the term was quite clear. And while it wasn’t all that hard for me to figure out, it was just one more example of the importance of context in communication.

“Cloaked” indeed!

Ad astra per alia porci

Keith October 4th, 2007

How’s your Latin?  I have just read that this was a favourite saying of John Steinbeck.  Apparently all of his books carry this insignia.  Although I have read a Steinbeck or two, I don’t remember noticing this.

A  clue – apparently a professor once told Steinbeck that he would “be an author when pigs flew”.

The rise of Indian English

Keith September 17th, 2007

I am familiar with Singlish (Singaporean English – “I speak good Singlish, lah?”).  On my recent trip to KL I first heard about the Malaysian equivalent – Manglish.  But now, read about the rise of Indlish – Indian English.  Don’t do nuisance in public, now!

A picture paints 1k words

Keith September 5th, 2007

Here’s the latest thing – Imagini.  Discover your “Visual DNA” and “communicate with others in a totally different way.”

Looks interesting.  It seems to be basically a social networking thing, but based on visual cues instead of language.  Find out who is your nearest match.  Turns out my nearest match is only a 53% match – what does that tell me?

See my profile.


Keith July 16th, 2007

Dogmamoron – when an authority’s inflexible principles work against their intent – the dogmatic equivalent of an oxymoron. E.g the ‘war’ on terror.”

 - Han van Loon, from actKM.

Translating humour

Keith June 6th, 2007

A funny thing happened on the way to the office…

I was in Sydney two weeks ago, conducting job interviews at our Pitt St office.  As I walked in on the Friday morning, I couldn’t help noticing the woman just ahead of me.  Calf-length black boots, tight jeans, tight black top, long, straight black hair.    She was walking toward the same lift bank that I was heading for, and two other guys were going the same way.

A lift opened, and the four of us walked in.  So far as I could tell, we were all mutual strangers.  The lift started up on its express run to level 22.

One of the other guys turned to the woman and asked cheekily, “Where can I get a pair of boots like that?”

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The Humpty Dumpty view of Knowledge

Keith May 3rd, 2007

“When I use a word it means exactly what I want it to mean.” 
    – Humpty Dumpty.

There has been further discussion at actKM about the definition of “knowledge”.  One contributor gave this definition: “Knowledge is solutions to problems”.  I disagree with this definition – I see it as too narrow.

This seems to ignore the use of knowledge in creativity and innovation, but it was further stated that these can also be viewed as just a different form of problem resolution.  Joe Firestone stated that “non-routine creative learning is a response to a problem.”  I struggle to accept this point of view.  This is stretching the meaning of “problem” a long way.  I do accept that creativity in the business world may be seen to be more limited than in pure art.  (Is it always?  Should it be?)

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Tying down Knowledge

Keith April 23rd, 2007

A contributor at actKM has raised a question about the definition of the word ‘knowledge’ in Knowledge Management.  I agree that there is little agreement on this, but my first thought reading this is that we are wasting our time if we try to define the term.  Like many words in English, it is context-dependent, and its meaning is evolving. 

I use the term in my business with a particular definition that is understood by my stakeholders.  Some would claim that what my team does is not actually KM at all, yet I still find this to be a useful term.  My definition may not be suitable in other businesses, and maybe not even in other parts of my own company.  However, this team has been successful for just over seven years.

In the post, KM is compared to other disciplines, including Project Management, Document Management and Change Management.  I do agree that KM can be quite different to these disciplines.  I don’t see this as a problem.  KM operates at a different level to these process-oriented disciplines.  KM may be part of all of these, and can also be other things at a different level. 

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