He Who Defines, Wins

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I really like words. That's one of the reasons I share "Words of the Day" with you when I stumble across them:

Word of the Day
Autochthonous:* indigenous; originating where it is found

Brought to you by
Milton Gaither

Definitions are important because, without them, we lose meaning and the ability to communicate. In debate they say that "he who defines, wins" because if your definition is accepted you can direct the conversation where you want it to go. A few examples:

  • Is abortion a medical procedure or murder?
  • Is swatting your child's hand training or abuse?
  • Is evolution a scientific fact or a godless lie?
  • Is homeschooling selfish and vile or a wonderful opportunity?
  • Is eating meat productive or immoral?
  • Is the use of "he" instead of gender neutral pronouns acceptable or chauvinistic?
  • Is this blog fantastic of lame?
  • Is Luke Holzmann a ninny or brilliant?

Ultimately, much like the last two, neither answer is entirely accurate--or, perhaps more accurately, both answers contain a certain level of truth. Logicians call what I gave above a false dichotomy. But the point remains: If you can convince people to accept your definition, you are more likely to sway them to your side.

The difficulty, then, is determining what definitions are correct. And when there is disagreement, discover what drives the two sides. Why do they define it that way? And what's influencing that definition?

Are you a parent or a teacher? Are your offspring your children or your students? And what in the world is a Core or an Instructor's Guide anyway?

I spent some time today working on a lexicon for a potential new Sonlight product. It was amazing to me how difficult it is to find words that will be wildly recognizable without leading to wrong impressions or confusion. Schedule or Calendar? Asset or Resource? Teachers Manual or Lesson Plan? Course or Program or Study Unit?

May the words you use today be edifying and understood by those around and closest to you.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Surrogate Father

*Yep, I had to look up the pronunciation too.

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  1. Pingback: What Determines Success? | Sonlight Blog