Why Argue About Words?

From the opening session of Alt.Net 2007…

Nearly as loud as the argument about changing the Alt.Net name is the camp saying “who cares what it’s named?”

I don’t have a problem with the Alt.Net name, and I’m past bored with the argument, but I do like showing off what I know about linguistics, to try and justify some of that expensive schooling.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis posits that the way we use language informs and constrains the way we think about the world: Language shapes thought. So arguing about the words we use may be not only relevant, but vital.

Many years ago I went to a play where an actor presented a monologue as if he were Buckminster Fuller. I never know how to attribute quotes from this event; I probably need to find the playwright. Anyway, this non-Bucky gave an example of how language changes our thinking. Why do we say “up” and “down,” when we live on a sphere? We should say “out” and “in.”

Dizzying, isn’t it?

So it is important how you name your test methods, and whether you review “defects” or “items,” …and what you call your social movement.

But debate about it later on blogs. While we’re all here, let’s talk about code, man.

About Sharon Cichelli

I am a Principal Technical Lead at Headspring, developing enterprise-changing software and coaching teams to deliver value without death marches. I am a .NET developer, open-source contributor, user group organizer, technical blogger, pinball fan, and Arduino enthusiast.
This entry was posted in Conference. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.