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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Tom Bliss Is traditional song finished? (621* d) RE: Is traditional song finished? 06 Mar 10

"but at least he has never relied on the Humpty Dumpty philosophy of "Words mean what I want them to mean"

As, Jim, you have twice accused me of doing this in previous debates, I take it you are referring to my arguments here. (And if you are not, then my rebuttal will stand for whomsoever you were thinking about).

I would dearly love you to take a deep breath and try to understand this one thing..

The arguments I have carefully set before you have nothing to do with that famous Lewis Carroll quote.

To claim it does (over and over and over again) is to suggest that I am both very stupid and also that I have no respect for, or understanding of, the English language, or the way it is made and remade by democratic evolution.

The point I have tried to get over to you on many occasions is that if you want to be understood, you sometimes need to speak your interlocutor's language in preference to your own - or at least to adopt their vocabulary.

When (to simplify the argument) I speak to anyone older than 65 (or who has given me some other relevant clue) about folk and traditional music, I should guess that they may use these words the way you do, Jim, and temper my argument accordingly.

When I speak to someone between, say, 65 and 40 (actually this is not about age, but age will do as a cypher for now), then I need to be careful because a number of interpretations may apply, and I'll probably have to check as I go that we understand each other.

But when I speak to anyone younger than 40, or to anyone who is interested in 'roots' music but who has little knowledge of 'heritage' music, then I can assume the Wikipedia definitions will usually hit the mark, because that IS the 'correct' language for that demographic.

This is not dishonesty or self-delusion, it is plain common sense.

I've been filming around London and the South West all week. I read quite a few contemporary music magazines while I was there, and noted the bands that were called 'folk' in these publications. None of them were what you'd call 'folk', Jim.

To say that they have chosen this term themselves just to cheat their way into the traditional music sector is just plain stupid.

They use these words the way they do because everyone around them does - and has done so for decades.

Music magazines have millions of readers between them, and they have been using the word folk to describe acoustic music of all types, along with a lot of other ill-defined applications, for about 40 years, and it has become the norm everywhere apart from, ironically, within the 'folk' world.

The message has been reinforced again and again over time ever since the Americans decided that contemporary music could be called folk in the 1960s. We see the evidence in dictionaries, in the categories of music competitions, on file sharing websites, and on the shelves on record stores as well as in newspapers and magazines. And I hear it in everyday conversation among musicians and enthusiasts of all ages in city, town and country up and down this land - not to mention in other parts of the world (specially the USA).

Hundreds of millions of people are happy to use the word 'folk' to mean almost anything they like as long as it's folky to them.


This is not me, (or anyone else), being like Humpty Dumpty.

This is me being a professional communicator who wants to be understood.

Do you think you could give it a rest now?


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