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Old 29th April 2018, 01:56 AM   #1
A. G. Maisey
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 6,781
Default Precision in the use of language.

This Forum is an English Language Forum, however, we have many members who are not native speakers of English, and since it is not an academically based Forum, many of our native speakers of English are sometimes not particularly precise in their use of the English language. I know that I myself often write in a colloquial manner and use words incorrectly. Many of us do.

However, this less than precise use of the English Language can create situations that can lead to disagreement, conflict or misunderstanding. Recently I have noted several instances where a person who was inclined to engage in conflict would have had very little difficulty doing this and as a consequence creating an inharmonious situation.

One of the notable things about this Forum is that there is a very low level of uncourteous disagreement. Imprecise use of language can cause conflict to unintentionally arise. Any conflict can degenerate into discourtesy.

Discourtesy can cause the loss of members. We need everybody we now have, and could in fact use a few more members.

I believe that it is in the best interests of all of us to try to be a little more precise in the way in which we use the language that is used for communication in this Forum.

In fact, in this sub-forum, we are involved in discussion of only one weapon form, the keris. This weapon form is something that is indigenous to a part of the Malay World, and the Malay World is a relatively difficult area to come to terms with.

In discussion of those things which relate to the Malay World, we need to be aware that the term "Malay World" does not mean the same as "Ethnic Malay". "Malay Society" does not mean the same as "Malay Culture". The terms "anthropology" and "society" have different meanings.

Then we have classification based upon language. The Malay People are an ethnic group that uses languages that come from the Austronesian group of languages. Austronesian speakers stretch all the way from Taiwan to Easter Island to New Zealand to East Africa.

There are many Malay sub-groups, and amongst these sub-groups there is enormous social, cultural, linguistic and genetic variation.

The passage of time is a problem. The concept of a Malay Race of people dates from around 1800, and was proposed by a German gentleman --- I forget the name and details. That was 200 years ago. Many things that were true only last week are no longer accepted to be true today. Consider Sam Arbesmann and the half-life of facts. That which is accepted as being so yesterday, may not be accepted as being so today. If we are inclined to use old reference sources it would be wise to ensure that those reference sources are still relevant today.

There is no disgrace in using a dictionary or other reference sources in order to write that which we intend to be understood in a particular way, is in fact understood in the way that we intend.

I would most gently urge all who post comments to this Forum to try to ensure that what they write is in fact what they mean to say.
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