Category Archives: Language

Thank you. You are too kind

So. Here I sit. On the train. Typing on my traveltop; that’s my netbook, I call it that because I normally only use it when I am away on holiday. I am not on holiday today. Today I just wanted to write. I’ve been wanting to write for some time but just haven’t sat down to do it, until now.

There’s quite a lot I wanted to write about. One of the topics being my adequacy as a developer and the adequacy of myself in general. But… I mostly forgot what it was I wanted to say. I know when I originally thought it, it was stunningly profound.

Something else I wanted to write about was the duality of self, of my self. I read in Stephen King’s book, On Writing, that you should not use language that does not “fit” you. I believe I follow his advice in most cases when I write. What I’ve noticed that the words that “fit” when I write are different to the words that “fit” when I speak. I would never verbally use the word vocation but when writing, talking about my vocation feels natural. It’s interesting that my vocabulary should change depending on the medium of communication. Then again, the more I think about it, considering the little I’ve learned about brain function, it seems perfectly normal that your vocabulary should change when medium of communication changes.

I remember now what it was I wanted to say. I constantly battle with myself and my self, trying to figure out if I am good at what I do or just above average.

I have always thought of myself as being bad at things or at least not good enough. And when I do get complements, I frequently brush it off because “they don’t know what they are talking about as they are laymen” or if they do know what they are talking about, “they don’t have enough specific knowledge on the niche area of the subject that they are somehow misinformed” or even simply “just mistaken”. Take an example, being a developer, Dev Leads, Tech Leads, peers, even a few Technical Directors have told me that my skills are valuable. And the vast majority of every company I have worked for has asked me to come back and work for them again, stay on longer or asked me to come on full time. Some of those companies are even well known for having a really strict hiring policy. Somehow even after all that positive affirmation, I still don’t think I am worth my weight in salt (I wonder what I would do with 80kg [£69.34] of salt).

Anyway, I realised something the other day. I’ve always compared myself to people better than me. I’m not sure if all people do this, but with me, I only compare myself to people better than me, or at least people who I think are better than me or have a skill I want or am envious of. If someone isn’t better, they won’t feature on my personal scale of comparison. I am generalising but do you realise what that means? On my scale, I’m always worse than everyone else. If the scale was based on 1 – 10, I’m always a 1. How crazy is that shit?

I think it’s sad that this is how I choose to define myself. Now that I know about it, I think I can change this. I don’t know if this is normal. Is this normal? I don’t think it can good for the self-esteem. It does explain some aspects about myself though. For a start, it explains is how I am unable to accept a compliment: If in the past I received a complement, in my head I appreciated your kindness anyway and thanked you, almost always in an awkward way.

How do I fix this? How do you change a mindset? Is actively knowing about it and being aware enough?

Update: I saw this online today, looks like it’s a part of the human condition.

aBqoY

 

Fortune favours the brain

I didn’t really want to write a blog post. Technically I should be designing a site for my new project. But hey…. what can you do?

The intended outcome of the post I didn’t want to write was that you would think me smart and awesome. So I was going to pretend to write a post about how times have changed. About how society prizes those who had physical strength and brawn but now intelligence and the mind is what is more highly sought after. The punchline of the article was going to be that it used to be “Fortune favours the brave” but now in today’s climate it’s  “Fortune favours the brain”. (That’s not to say that the old saying is no longer relevant).

Awesome huh? I think it’s awesome. I think it’s awesome because I took an age old saying, modified it slightly by changing two letters and created profound meaning.

This is one for my quotation site.

This post is gay…

People always complain about stuff. They always find things to complain about, even when they don’t really have anything to complain about. I have nothing to complain about so I am going to complain about all the people complaining. Meta-Complaining is what I call it.

In this meta-complaint I am going to complain about the word ‘gay’.

I read somewhere about some gay people are being offended that people are now using the word gay as a synonym for the word lame. I repeat: Gay people are being offended that people are using the word gay as a synonym for lame. Tough luck, language evolves. Do you know what gay meant originally? It meant ‘happy’. Then the term evolved to become a synonym for homosexual. And now the word is evolving again. Well not now, it’s actually been changing since 1996 at least.

The truth is that words are evolving all the time. The meaning of the word lame has evolved too. Take a look at wikipedia’s euphemism article.

Trying to stop it is futile and political correctness is not a solution. Just deal with it!

Obviously though, what words evolve and what they evolve into (depending on the word) may be a possible reflection of that society’s prejudices. But that theory needs more than just two case studies.

But that is a different issue all together…

On expectation, but not really

I am trying to figure out if having expectations of something is a good thing. Doing something and having an expectation of how it is going to be can really detract from the enjoyment of the experience. For me the most common form of this is watching movies trailers. A lot of trailers have spoiled movies for me. They either hype the movie up into something it’s not, or they show all the good bits making you expect more good bits when you do actually watch it, only to find you’ve seen them all.

Heh… the word trailers made me think back to my youth when I first used that word. I remember back in the day my family used to call them shorts. The shorts. “Do you want to fast forward past the shorts?”, I would ask. It’s interesting to notice how and why vocabularies change. I have lived a life where I frequently needed to cross the boundaries of vocabularies. By vocabularies I mean slang, colloquialisms or more generally a subset of words. I stayed in a coloured area and probably had only coloured friends at the time. At about 9 years of age I went to a white school. Not sure if “white school” was the correct terminology for it at the time. I don’t really know what the history of the school was up till that point. Perhaps private school is better. A private school with 99.9% of the children being white. A boarding school. Myself and the kids there pretty much got on like a house on fire. So as one does when one becomes part of any group, I picked up a lot of terminology, or slang. I also picked up some nuances of pronunciation as well as an accent.

I find it interesting that the words I picked up and used was conscious process. It’s also interesting to note that I could have attempted to introduce the other kids to the words I grew up with but rather chose to replace those words for their local counterparts or even omit them from interactions altogether. Right at the beginning when all these colloquialisms were new to me, I would incorporate words that would ease communication or prevent me from having to explain what I meant if I had used my own word.

The other interesting thing was that I found nuances of pronunciation and the accent I picked up were not a conscious process. I only noticed I had one when I visited my grandmother on a holiday a year or two later. My grandmother asked me, I can’t remember the exact words but it was something like: “Why do you talk like you are white?”. As I said in the last sentence, I don’t remember the words exactly but I do remember disgust in her voice. I was taken aback. From the tone of her voice I could tell my accent displeased her and in that one comment made me feel as though there was a chance I could no longer be trusted because I no longer speak like her people. My response was, “I don’t talk like I am white?” and immediately forced myself back into rolling my Rs.

From then on I became conscious of how I spoke. It carried on this way for a long time. I’d have a different accent for school and a different accent at home. To this day actually… I still do it. Around my family I can have a different accent than what I normally do. And what’s worse is that often around coloured people, I force my coloured accent. The problem is that this isn’t how I talk anymore so I don’t get practice using the accent anymore also I never really had the opportunity to study it so I can’t even mimic it that well. If that was not bad enough I also find myself using a half forgotten, dated version of the coloured slang I knew when I was 9. So interactions in this mode feel so fake for me. I feel like every word I say is a lie. Which it is. Even though I am telling the truth, the sounds the words make when they reach my ears feel to me as if they are a lie. Anyways I am in the process of fixing this. I am in the process of merging my accents into one.

So yeah, as you can see, I got horribly distracted. My original article was meant to be on expectations. I wanted to talk about expectations because of the hot-cross buns you get in the shop. Eating them (the experience) is never as good as they smell, or half as good I remember them (the expectation). So, I may start a new quest. I may just take up baking to create a hot cross bun to rival the flavour of the ones in my memory – the perfect hot cross bun.

Happy Easter.