The Things We Say – Your journey has molded you for your greater good

26 03 2013

I’d never heard of Asha Tyson until I stumbled upon “The Things We Say”, and this quote: The Things We Say – Your journey has molded you for your greater good.

Turns out she’s a motivational speaker. “Homeless at 17, retired at 26”. Asha Tyson Dynamics (her corporate self’s website) claims “Upgrade and Supercharge Your Life in 1 Week”. Hmmhmm…

As I recently counselled a Ugandan friend whose brother had been offered a job at a Toronto hotel via email… (All flights included for free(!). Salary paid in $US(?). “Hotel Manager” of a major chain with a yahoo email address (!?!!)): If it seems too good to be true… it likely is!

Actually this quote caught my eye for a very different reason: “molded”. Now Noah Webster was a very smart gentleman, but it didn’t stop him butchering the written English language in North America. Shades of Ministry of Truth in my view. Double plus bad.

He tried to bring rationalisation and a quest for simplicity to English. Trouble is, as we learned from Google’s recent foray into dictating Swedish word usage… language refuses to be fettered like that. English is a pig to learn, and even native speakers frequently get bits of it wrong when forced to commit it to writing. (Self being an extremely prime example!)

The thing I put on a wheel and what happens when I’m sleepy may sound the same, but they have different meanings. Spelling them as tyre and tire avoids any confusion: a sensible stance taken by the entire English-speaking world… well – at least outside North America. Unlike many cases where Canada “could go either way” and use English or American spelling, this one is definite. Canada sticks firmly with the US variant. I cringe every time I enter Canada’s version of Halfords: Canadian Tire.

Even things you might consider important like weights and measures are negotiable in Canada. Here, a pint can be 16oz  (US) or 20oz (rest of world). All the more confusing because technically we’re metric anyway!! For the most important use – measuring beer – conflict is avoided by selling it in measures of “a sleeve” which is generally accepted to be in the approximate region of a pint (for a given value of “pint”), plus or minus. It neatly side-steps the entire issue and allows us Canadians to continue peaceably drinking together whilst (I love that word) watching the blood and mayhem on the TV as we follow the ice hockey. We’re violent by proxy. In fact we often import Finns, Swedes and various other folk of Viking lineage to do it on our behalf.

Confusion is true of linear measures too. I was shocked the other day to see in large letters across the back of a fire-engine: “Stay back 150 meters”. Voltmeters? Ammeters? Water meters perhaps? Surely a meter is something that measures (or meters out) some quantity. A metre on the other hand is a unit of length. C’est un mot français, n’est pas? Comme “centre” ou “theatre”. OK… so the difference in these last couple is historic. Despite the fact that the revolutionary Americans relied on the French military for their gaining independence, they didn’t follow England in adopting trendy French words like autumn (Shakespeare used “fall”) and theatre (common in England from ~1700).

All that to bring me back to mold. I was taught in school that a mold is a fungus. A mould on the other hand is something that shapes something… like a personality.

To be molded by a journey smacks ever so vaguely of contracting athlete’s foot! Hardly inspirational, now, is it?!

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