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Thread: Rewilding language

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    <3 gator's Avatar
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    Rewilding language

    A friend posted this article on facebook the other day about collecting and preserving obscure, regional words for the natural world. I enjoyed reading it. Some of the words are quite poetic and I started writing some poems in response. I'll probably try to get my hands on a copy of the book for just this reason.

    But it leaves me with a bunch of questions for you.

    WTF is "rewilding" anyway? It seems to be the buzzword for the past few years, but I'm not sure anyone's able to really define it, at least not in a way I find satisfactory. Seems to me that rewilding is, or should be, far more about culture than it is about nature.

    Can we preserve language in a useful and significant way outside of the cultural practice in which it was created? Seems to me that a lot of these words were created in the context of people's direct contact with nature, and no doubt they contained knowledge that would have been useful at the time. Having a word for the space in a hedgerow where animals pass through would make sense if you rely on game to supplement your diet. In the city it's nice to know, but when would you ever use it other than pub quiz night?

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    Mens bona regnum possidet ferrus's Avatar
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    I always thought that it maybe meant recapturing the vitality of earlier, pre-standardised phases of the English language. In the same way say Elizabethan English was this foment of new words, ideas and phrases whose birth was usually connected to their pathos or regionalism or lyricism or learned pedantry, against standard, officialese you get now.

    But you know, I don't see how this can be promoted 'naturally' any more. English is too standardised, too important globally and regional dialects being crushed by economic necessity too mercilessly (like regional and ethnic languages themselves). To find real wilding in the language you probably should go to places where people don't care. Carribean, African and Indian creoles and dialects are generally ignored but form a big part of today's wild forms of English, in societies where it can still find root outside the urban middle classes.
    Die Logik ist keine Lehre, sondern ein Spiegelbild der Welt. Die Logik ist transcendental. - Wittgenstein

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    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    It sounds like something I'd be interested in if I were living in a more natural environment (which is something I think about more and more). It would give me some personal satisfaction to discover names for things I didn't know had names. But other than that, I don't think it's useful to approach languages in a way that isn't utilitarian (strictly to understand things and to communicate with/influence others). IOW I have little intellectual curiosity for what I can't see a purpose for.
    Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent. - Mao

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    Mens bona regnum possidet ferrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madrigal View Post
    It sounds like something I'd be interested in if I were living in a more natural environment (which is something I think about more and more). It would give me some personal satisfaction to discover names for things I didn't know had names. But other than that, I don't think it's useful to approach languages in a way that isn't utilitarian (strictly to understand things and to communicate with/influence others). IOW I have little intellectual curiosity for what I can't see a purpose for.
    I guess I would've thought that too. But people's attachments to their communities and friends and culture are often based on non-utilitarian tokens and linguistic forms and this is often a surprisingly important social binder for people.

    Which indirectly is why I am saying that this is generally not useful in an artificial context. In urban societies where people are generally atomised this won't emerge - except in socially marginalised subcultures (think thieves' cant), and it is pretension to try to make it do so.

    I suppose there is this - aesthetically the best poetry and literature plays on words and languages in new and surprising ways, often stretching and recontextualising language for aesthetic effect. Language has every right to be as aesthetically pleasing as music or painting or architecture. By reducing language to repetition and boredom it has destroyed that excitement in it in a way that perhaps hasn't happened with other art forms because they aren't so easily reproduced with verisimilitude. A lot of modernism was attempting to rescue language from this trap whilst remaining true to modern society and culture. I think it was only partially successful, but where it was successful it was as beautiful and traditional language, if you have an open enough mind.
    Die Logik ist keine Lehre, sondern ein Spiegelbild der Welt. Die Logik ist transcendental. - Wittgenstein

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    Persona Oblongata OrionzRevenge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gator View Post
    ..WTF is "rewilding" anyway? It seems to be the buzzword for the past few years, but I'm not sure anyone's able to really define it, at least not in a way I find satisfactory. Seems to me that rewilding is, or should be, far more about culture than it is about nature.

    ..
    Ok, I'm not sure if I'm being an Ass-Burger here, and if not then I was sure ferrus would have beaten me to the punch.

    But this is a topic about origins of expressions so...

    Rewilding comes from revelations, that I have spoken of here before, where natural conservationist groups discovered just how absolutely vital the apex predators* in a ecosystem are in ways that spread deeply and broadly into other adjacent ecosystems.

    The classic textbook example is the restoration of wolves and cougars to the western states of the US.




    *and to humans, the most scary wild, the most vital and primitive.
    Creativity is the residue of time wasted. ~ Albert Einstein

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    Mens bona regnum possidet ferrus's Avatar
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    ^ I didn't associated the term with this phenomenon but I had heard of it (on the redoubtable horizon no less) I remember seeing how without predators certain lesser-apex animals spread too widely and end up completely unpopulated and with large degrees of genetic unfitness rampant (this happened to animals). A part of me did wonder about the implications to humans...

    Also, I might add here there was also discussion in this program about the corrosive effects of romanticist conceptions of nature (which focused on the aesthetics and superficial understanding designed to assuage prejudices more than anything) - and how many American and Canadian national parks were founded with the express intent to kick out the humans (i.e. Native Americans) without seeing them as part of the eco-system.
    Die Logik ist keine Lehre, sondern ein Spiegelbild der Welt. Die Logik ist transcendental. - Wittgenstein

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    Persona Oblongata OrionzRevenge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ferrus View Post
    ^ I didn't associated the term with this phenomenon but I had heard of it (on the redoubtable horizon no less) I remember seeing how without predators certain lesser-apex animals spread too widely and end up completely unpopulated and with large degrees of genetic unfitness rampant (this happened to animals). A part of me did wonder about the implications to humans...
    ....
    OK, so I'm not an ass-burger. lol

    I was absolutely certain you knew of the concept. I think we have chatted about as much. But I also know you have that un-abridged Oxford Dictionary in your head.
    Creativity is the residue of time wasted. ~ Albert Einstein

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    <3 gator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrionzRevenge View Post
    Ok, I'm not sure if I'm being an Ass-Burger here, and if not then I was sure ferrus would have beaten me to the punch.

    But this is a topic about origins of expressions so...

    Rewilding comes from revelations, that I have spoken of here before, where natural conservationist groups discovered just how absolutely vital the apex predators* in a ecosystem are in ways that spread deeply and broadly into other adjacent ecosystems.

    The classic textbook example is the restoration of wolves and cougars to the western states of the US.




    *and to humans, the most scary wild, the most vital and primitive.
    I'm familiar with this concept and movement, though not in the context of the word rewilding. Makes sense though.

    I mostly just have an issue with where it's used in contexts that are not related to conservation. The idea of rewilding cities has become trendy the past few years. Now we're talking about rewilding language. I feel like the word is in danger of being diluted past the point of any meaning.

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    Persona Oblongata OrionzRevenge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gator View Post
    I'm familiar with this concept and movement, though not in the context of the word rewilding. Makes sense though.

    I mostly just have an issue with where it's used in contexts that are not related to conservation. The idea of rewilding cities has become trendy the past few years. Now we're talking about rewilding language. I feel like the word is in danger of being diluted past the point of any meaning.
    From my POV, I've never heard it used in any other context prior to your OP. It just struck me as cock-headed dog odd. I'm sure my confusion is enhanced by the fact that I was dealt a hand short on verbal cards.

    Maybe a bit of trepidation. A portent of potential perversion from my narrowed field of view.

    It's like working in a chemistry lab and one day going to the break room to see a member of the maintenance staff drinking from a graduated beaker. You're instantly back in Chem 101 listening to the instructor's poetic caution:

    Johnny was a Chemist
    he's a Chemist no more
    what he thought was H2O
    was H2SO4

    In the confines of this discussion, my trepidation relates to the coining of phrase by Herbert Spencer: "Survival of the Fittest" as a summation for Darwin's OotS. And how everyone with a social agenda jumped on it to validate their views as the natural order. More fundamental, was Darwin's own failings in understanding the Bio-motive Force that drove his correctly deduced explanation of Natural Selection, and drove Spencer's quill.

    Like many a good scientist, save johnny, Darwin found his discovery in test tubes: Islands. Along with his journals and nostalgic memories of days abroad the HMS Beagle, Darwin continued INTPishly to collect data from his garden chair for years; and I think he could well have transcended his limitations in thinking and shattered the limits of his test tubes to the far flung corners of the Biosphere. So when I read him describe populations rapidly expanding to the very limits of the food supply and there forward engage in a desperate struggle of genetic one-upmanship, IMO he is not reading from his journals but rather from journalist's accounts of that utter human perversion of nature in a test tube: The Irish Potato Famine. Wherein the imposition of social constraints and putting all your eggs into the moldy basket of monoculture was about as unnatural an experiment one could devise.

    My approach to define Rewilded Language would be to attempt to find parallels and resolve contrast with the way I know Rewilding. But if as you say, it has become the new 'synergy' of buzzwords then perhaps it here is being commandeered from other lingo pirates with a meaning modified and evolved to their ends. A game of buzzword grapevine. So what follows may not have any meaning in this context.

    From my POV, Rewild is an enormous epiphany to environmental science. Human's could mimic the culling of game in lieu of apex predators, and attempt to curb our perverse desire to take trophies from the fading right in favor of a rustic workingman's meal from the ascending left side of the Bell Curve, but none the less, interlaced ecosystems collapsed and the landscapes were re-painted with a very stunted pallet of diversity.

    What was actually re-introduced, when wolves and cougars were returned to the western US, was behavior modifications in large prey and second tier predators induced by mortal fear. It made all the difference. Interlaced ecosystems re-exploded with diversity and vitality.***

    "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"

    Thus, I couldn't imagine a definition for Rewilding that is not based on a notion of profound beauty and dazzling complexity forged by the chaos of primitive 'dark' emotions. So this is where I'll point my microscope.

    Language is a tool very often used to re-enforce Group Identity and this linkage should fill any human mind with countless scenarios of Fight or Flight emotions.

    We twist the knobs to turn the notes of our vowels in order to mimic leaders of our community and erect fortifications of localized identity accents.

    Like Inuit adjectives for snow, we invent words for the things specific to our view from the center of our horizon and the culture around us.

    We use the turn of phrase of others in disdainful ways as if to slam the portcullis gate in their face. "Yall" for example.

    Teenage rebellion, and the need of every coming generation to distance themselves from the ones before, fills volumes with an endless supply of slang. The Sit-Com cliche of the fish out of water failing in an attempt to be lingo hip comes to mind.

    Uhm, this is all I got??????

    *** <<Now gently fold those Darwin Berries on top into your batter>>

    I also think Rewilding as I know it offers an epiphany for Evolutionary Science as well. It is the final port of call for HMS Beagle and slays the malformed child of the misinformed 'Survival of the Fittest': Selfish Genes. A holistic view of the entire Biosphere co-evolving for stability via diversity on a chaotic planet. Genes are just the tools of DNA. The mindless wildfire ever seeking more fuel to burn, and discovering maximization via Pax Natura.
    Last edited by OrionzRevenge; 03-08-2015 at 11:31 PM.
    Creativity is the residue of time wasted. ~ Albert Einstein

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