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A few of my favourite words, each an aid in futures fluency in one way or another...

I love words. I love language: its sibilance, its syncopation, its rhyme and rhythm, its tones and tricks. All languages: I love the fact that Spanish, Hawaiian, Japanese, and Finnish all follow very similar rules of pronunciation except for stress and rhythm. I love the fact that in Mandarin you can rhyme in both syllable and tone, and that in Japanese you can express with great precision your social standing with regard to your listener simply by conjugating the verb correctly.

That precision energizes both art and science: poetry's preoccupation with word choice is echoed in systems analysis, where precise choice of variable names when creating causal loops can create a meaningful structure of interrelationship -- and an ill choice can confound it.

I also love language's strength in structuring our reality, and allowing us to transform those structures at will. I love the fact that the values and priorities of other cultures -- their relationships between people, and between people and their environments -- are embedded in their vocabularies, such that some cultures have words for ideas that do not exist in others.

Trading in the language bazaar can be very useful in expanding the possibilities we encode into our scenarios and visions of the future. Here are a few of my favourite words: if you have any you'd like to suggest, please email me at: words@infinitefutures.com.

We are all magicians. We are all shamans. Our power over ourselves, our world, our fellow word magicians, often depends on how we use words. The more we know about words and the way words are used to confront or to avoid conflict, the more options we have in our lives. There is fun to be found in the pages that follow, but there is also power.

(Howard Rheingold, They Have a Word for It, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988, p. 38. A delightful little lexicon from an author more famous for writing Virtual Reality and other books about life on the emerging electronic frontier.)

aleatory: dependent on the throw of a die; hence, dependent on uncertain contingencies (from the Oxford English Dictionary Online (OEDO) [20 January 2003].

dendrochronology: The science of arranging events in the order of time by the comparative study of the annual growth rings in (ancient) timber. (from the OED Online) About which my spouse says he can think of no finer way to earn a living: wandering around in deep forests, appreciating the age of trees and the stories they can tell us of ancient times (of course, he is a historian). [15 February 2003].

enantiodromia: The process by which something becomes its opposite, and the subsequent interaction of the two: applied esp. to the adoption by an individual or by a community, etc., of a set of beliefs, etc., opposite to those held at an earlier stage. Hence "enantiodromiacal," "enantiodromic" adjs., resulting from enantiodromia. (from the OED Online)
As in, "George W. Bush is in enantiodromic danger of becoming the oppressive wielder of weapons of mass destruction against whom he is currently inveighing." [15 February 2003]

onomatopoeia: The quality of which BLAM! ~rustle~ and !click! have a lot: words which mimic in sound that which they name, or, more precisely, the process in which such words evolve.(15 February 2003].

orenda: "the power of voiced, focussed will -- the opposite of kismet, or fate;" a Huron word which literally means "song." It is an invocation, a mystical incantation to focus one's intention. "Thus, ... 'he is arrayed in his orenda' means that one is trying to obtain one's desire..." (from Rheingold, They Have a Word for It, pp. 47-48.) (20 January 2003]


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15 February 2003. Email IF.
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