Warning: This blog will contain some expletives that may offend. They are an intrinsic part of what I want to talk about today. Please don’t read if you are word-sensitive.

So, I was just walking away from where I had set up at the ball-field, folding up the tripod and heading back to the car. When this guy, who had been parked nearby and watching me for the last ten minutes, approached and asked whether I had gotten any decent shots or not.

I muttered something about how I always seem to find something even when there is nothing and I was pretty sure I got one or two that made the evening worthwhile.

So, I powered back on the camera and showed him the little LCD on the back of the camera as I thumbed through the last few shots.

“That is so dope”, he said when we paused on one that he particularly liked. And I thanked him.

There really isn’t anything special but what I got is at the end of the blog … just some sky views. Enjoy

It was only when I was in the car on the way home that the particular word he had used played around inside my head.

I intrinsically knew that he meant that he liked it, even though he used a word that meant anything other than good in the world I grew up in.

So, the thoughts that ran wild inside my head (eventually forming this blog) were along the basis of words and their meanings and their uses and about how all this changes over time and perspective.

For example, to begin with … when I was growing up, the word “dope” meant some kind of gentle idiot. Someone who might be borderline retarded or at the very least, someone who was very slow on the uptake.

It was given as a mild insult and never intended as a compliment. Think about the Disney character Dopey in the seven dwarfs. Yes, he was portrayed as lovable and sweet, but certainly not someone you would use in a phone-a-friend-moment to handle a difficult question.

Yet now we normally reserve its use as a statement of something being excellent. We also use the same word as a slang name for marijuana, but I think that probably has its origins in how it make the person feel or behave, once under the influence. Hence, back to its original meaning.

In Ireland we use words to help color what it is we are trying to convey. So expletives become a part of everyday language and no one takes offense. The word fucking is merely an adjective that emphasizes whatever other word that follows.

“That guy is hot” becomes “that guy is fucking hot” as we try to stress how good looking we think they are. The word “fucking” has no sexual connotation and is absolutely not meant to convey anything negative.

I remember thirty years ago an incident where the differences between Irish culture and American culture slapped me in the face and gave me first proof on how word-sensitive Americans are.

I was working at the time in fiber optics for an American company and I headed up their marketing and sales activity in Europe. So they had me based for a couple of years in Ireland at their production plant in Limerick.

My fellow director, John, headed up the production team and he was a stellar manager. His production team completely outperformed his American counterparts.

So, when we got bought out by a publicly traded, NY based corporation, their team of executives made a beeline for our facility to talk to both of us and see for themselves the better functioning part of the company they had just bought.

Five senior executives, all wearing dark pinstripe suits, all white guys in their sixties, gathered around the conference table in Limerick listening to our assessment of our European business. CEO, COO, CTO, C-whatever-O, … they were all there.

I stood up and gave a presentation on the ins and outs of everything to do with the market. They all seemed suitably impressed and the CEO thanked me for my words and then turned to John.

“So, John, we’ve heard some of the difficulties of marketing these products into Europe. What are they like to make?”

“They’re a right fucking cunt” he said as he got to his feet.

The silence that sucked all the energy from the room, seemed to last forever, yet was probably no more than a few seconds. The looks on the faces of all five senior executives was precious and truly begged for a camera to be present in order to capture it. But that capture was left solely to my own brain.

John’s background was that he was a farmer. And I have no doubt that many an Irish cow gets called a cunt, as they drag out the rounding-up process or refuse to comply smoothly with the milking process. So, when John use the word “cunt” he was only trying to convey how difficult the process of manufacturing these components were.

And the “fucking” just before it? Well, that was just to deliver the typical Irish exaggeration to what he was about to say.

I don’t remember the rest of the presentation going very smoothly, after that, in all honesty. But wind the clock forward a few months and I was promoted and brought back to corporate headquarters in NY to head up their global fiber optic marketing efforts, while John was mysteriously let go … despite still having the best fiber optic manufacturing operations within the company.

I drew my own conclusions why.

Yes, Irish people use words to color their expressions and that made me examine a little more closely how other cultures use their words in different ways.

For example, American english is rife with examples that shows we use lazy words here. If there is a shortcut to take we take it. We drop the “u” in color or flavor … why? Because we are too lazy to write it out correctly in the first place. Americans avoid complex words and make up their own versions as they go along.

For example when I heard an American president speaking on the world stage using the word “normalcy” a number of years back, I nearly died of embarrassment for him being so ignorant. But then I looked around me and I was the only one embarrassed. Everyone else thought it was a valid word.

The correct word, by the way, would have been “normality”.

On the opposite side of the Atlantic, the English choose their words to create a class structure. The wealthy or political will routinely use complex and obscure words that even I have to look up in a dictionary.

And anyone who knows me, knows that I am a wordsmith.

When they deliberately choose obscure and multi-syllabic words, when a simple four-letter-word would have done … well, frankly, they are trying to look more intelligent than they likely are. Morons using big words can sometimes appear intelligent to morons that don’t.

Words that change meanings over time are accompanied by words that change meanings over geography. This further confuses the story.

I remember a few years back, an American friend upon returning from a trip to England related her experience when she cut her foot and really struggled to find a band-aid. Only to eventually find out that they were called plasters in that part of the world.

But some different meanings can be wildly offensive. I remember many years ago in Ireland, a young lady friend being completely horrified when a car pulled up beside her when she was walking along a country road and the occupant (an American, no doubt) asked her if she wanted a ride.

Right now all you Americans reading this are going “What is wrong with that?”

Yet, in the 1970s in Ireland, the word ride meant fuck. So, you can imagine her response. I will never forget the signs that I saw at the DC area railway stations that had two separate areas of parking. The Kiss & Ride, or Park & Ride. Yes, I took pictures and sent them home to Ireland to my friends.

Yet some people deliberately hijack words in order to mislead. Recent times here, certain folks took the word “patriot” and decided to use it to define their own viewpoint. If you are a nationalist, a republican, white, god-fearing, gun-rights advocate, anti-abortionist, then you are a patriot. If not, you hate America.

Word-piracy is an evolving practice that began several centuries ago, by all accounts.

Right wing extremists have become expert at using normal words designed for one purpose being used to target or taint people or belief systems different to their own.

For example, the true meaning of the word “vermin” was a type of animal or pest that was dangerous to food and crops and likely carriers of disease. Rats, for example.

Yet, in the written media of the 16th and 17th centuries, suddenly certain type of people were being called vermin in the written press. Typically this was the poor or indigent.

By the time the twentieth century arrived, that word was applied to Jews. And in its application, it paved a way in everyone’s mind for a solution to the problem … extermination. Sure, isn’t that what we do to vermin?

So, what I noticed is that media as a platform enables word-piracy on a serious basis. From the nazi posters of vermin to patriot web sites of the right wing extremists, we continue to use words that influences the masses.

Such influence can make kings of dotards, as long as they are willing to peddle a lie that is big enough.

But at the end of the day, it important for us to reject the role of words in labeling or defining people or viewpoints. We have to look beyond the words being used and only see the colors of the emotion being conveyed.

If these are the same colors that you have in your mind, then fine. But if not, then they must be rejected out of hand, regardless of what words were being used in the conveyance.

See beyond the words. Pull back the curtain and look at the sentiment being expressed. That is where you will find truth.

Words lie.

… just a thought.