What’s in a word?

Maybe it’s because I’m an English major. Maybe not. Either way, for the last while I’ve been considering the limits of language. Also, how the meaning of words has changed. Or hasn’t changed. On writing this post, I did a Google Image search for ‘word’ – the icon for the word-processing program came up – repeatedly. Surprised? Not much. My non-surprised response in itself says something.

What IS in a word? Even the word, ‘word’ has different meanings, yo. And I’m only just referring to English.

In social media the common developments: to tweet; retweet; post

I noticed words that don’t even exist: retweet; unfriend; facebook/ed (the verb).

According to some religions, at the Tower of Babylon people were struck with different languages to prevent them from working together to finish their building. Apparently, that’s where all our languages come from.

The limits of language, not only academically, allow, or disallow, us to communicate, express, interact in many different ways. When did retweeting something become real? When did it become UNDERSTOOD? What is the movement of language – communication – that allows us to evolve, while remaining the same?

Questions. And perhaps answers. Answers which will probably be more discursive and circular than anything else.

C

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The Book Lounge: my experience

A few years ago an old friend introduced me to a bookshop on the corner of Roeland Street in Cape Town – The Book Lounge. I had always been a believer in the commercial chain stores, thinking that, that was where I would find everything  I may need and want. But after being introduced to The Book Lounge, I immediately fell in love with its welcoming layout, real staff (by real, I mean they are people who don’t present themselves as robots) and an inspiring collection of books.

Please note: I am not a representative for The Book Lounge, nor am I employed/asked/hired/been begged to write this review. These are just my thoughts. They don’t even know I’m writing this, until I send them a copy.

The Book Lounge has two floors. The bottom floor hosts the kids’ section (my personal favourite) with one impressive collection of Dr Seuss books (another favourite) amongst other children’s books authors. There is a great selection of South African authors, whom of which (admittedly) many I haven’t read. Another great thing about The Book Lounge is their events about book launches and discussions. Although I’m English, I appreciate their newsletters about Afrikaans book launches IN Afrikaans. It’s a minor detail they add, which I fully support and appreciate.

My personal experience at The Book Lounge, which inspired this blog, was earlier, in January. I had read a book from the UCT library, “Yes, I Am” edited by Robin Malan and Ashraf Johaardien. The book is on South African homosexual men; their experiences, thoughts and lives. Although I’m a girl, I found this book incredibly inspiring and motivating and decided to buy it for a friend for his birthday.  Reverting to my old habits, I’d approached the chain stores in the shopping malls. And WITHOUT fail, each store, and each assistant I’d asked, responded with a look of distaste and apparent judgement. When I’d arrived at The Book Lounge and asked them if they had the book in stock (expectant of #thatawkwardmoment), the assistant did nothing of the sort – he treated my request as if I were asking for the Oxford Dictionary. Apart from already being in love with The Book Lounge (why I didn’t just go their the first time, escapes me), this experience made me a bigger fan.

If you need a book, and at an affordable price – just go to The Book Lounge. They’ve probably got it. And they’ll probably help you with a smile on their face. And not the kind of smile that’s busy counting down the minutes to the end of their shift.

Find them here:

The Book Lounge
71 Roeland st
Cape Town
Tel: 021 462 2425
booklounge@gmail.com
www.booklounge.co.za
Mon-Fri: 0830-1930
Sat: 0930-1800
Sun: 1000-1600