Lexicon: A Paradigm of Culture
(Part 2 of my Lexicon Series)
As we go through the daily interactions in our lives, we seldom stop to think about just how much WORDS MATTER in shaping us individually, our relationships with others, and on a larger scale our culture. Our lexicon in fact is a typical example or model of who we are.
For example, each of us has a family member, friend, or acquaintance that we can think of who regularly uses the same word incorrectly when they speak. In many cases we even call them out on it. Over time, we begin to shape our opinions of that person based upon their use of that word (or words). For me it was my mother. She always used the word “meant”, when she really should have used the word “met”. I remember calling her on it one day as a young wise-ass teenager, and I could tell that I caught her off guard. Fortunately, my mother never stopped loving me, and it became something we could laugh about as our inside joke throughout the remainder of her life.
However, in our relationships writ large, we are not always so lucky. Many times, we don’t call out others (or them us), and an honest grammatical mistake or misunderstanding can become a source of misconceived perception between and among the people in our network. It does not take too much imagination to understand how this can become problematic; especially when we realize that this paradigm is true of us all.
Conversely, we each hold onto certain words or phrases that trigger internal preconceived biases. Perhaps they are shaped by the people in our lives, or perhaps we simply manifested our perceptions through other means. Either way, when we hear certain words, we hear them they way we understand them; good, bad, indifferent, correctly, incorrectly, happy, or sad (you get the picture). Because there is no way to know in advance how these words are imprinted in the minds of the others, nor which ones they are, we could find ourselves in a precarious predicament from time-to-time. In fact, language itself, that is the audible sounds and the written form, were created to share meaning and understanding between people. It is on this premise that the lexiconic cultural paradigm became manifest. Said another way, they are a set of linguistic items that form mutually exclusive choices in particular syntactic roles.
So, let us define two of the first fundamental words on our journey to begin developing corporate culture; Data and Datum. Dictionary.com defines both as follows, and I will shape into context throughout subsequent blog posts.
Data: (dadə, ˈdādə). Noun.
1. Facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis.
2. The quantities, characters, or symbols on which operations are performed by a computer, being stored and transmitted in the form of electrical signals and recorded on magnetic, optical, or mechanical recording media.
3. Things known or assumed as facts, making the basis of reasoning or calculation.
Synonyms: facts, figures, statistics, details, particulars, specifics
Datum: (dādəm,ˈdadəm). Noun. Plural of data.
A piece of information. An assumption or premise from which inferences may be drawn.
A fixed starting point of a scale or operation.