05/11/2014

Words and their meaning

or: can a dictionary ever be enough?

This is going to be difficult - trying not only to write in English, but also trying to understand whether cultural differences also influence the meaning of seemingly easy words.

I have been hanging out on different internet forums since '96 (I think) - most of them using English as the common language, most of them with a majority of participants from north America.

"Today I bought a [used] spinning wheel, which is not complete." A simple enough sentence, one can think. Until the next sentence: "It doesn't have a drive band".
While I agree that a spinning wheel has to have a drive band to function, it has never occurred to me to call an, especially "used", wheel without a drive band "not complete": a drive band for a spinning wheel is just a piece of string. (Simplifying here; I do own a wheel that needs a special plastic band in the exactly correct length)

Thus, I now understand that "complete" can have different meanings. Is that because of the different cultures, or because of the different individuals involved?

On to the next word. "I am restoring this new-to-me-loom - it isn't complete, so I'm going to buy a reed."
I (the Swede) understand "restore" (in conjunction to things, such as spinning wheels and looms) to mean essentially "repair", "mend". The first online definition I find says "bring back (a previous right, practice, custom, or situation); reinstate", and the first 8 synonyms are "reinstate, return, repair, reinvigorate, regenerate, mend, restitute, reconstruct".
Not one of these words indicate (to me) "buying a reed", ie get a piece of equipment that, while being essential to the functionality of the item, is something not "native" to it. There are so many different reeds out there that I would never consider using (and many of mine that a rug weaver would never consider using) that to me it becomes apparent that a reed is not "native" to a loom.

I have come to understand that "restore" is another word with many different meanings. Cultural differences or individual? (I'm not talking about sawing off a rotten piece of wood, to replace it with a sound piece, here.)

Or - a "principle": to measure a warp. Whether it is done by using a mill or a board (or a myriad other "methods" used around the world) is a question of "method". Or?

I have written about "weave structure language" before, here and here, so now I will only include five "very different" tieups.


Question of the week: are they different, really?


















9 comments:

Valerie said...

Your examples of the driveband and the reed seem to reflect more about the depth of understanding on the part of the person speaking.

I'm in my early 60's and textiles in the form of home economics was part of my education back in the 1960's. That kind of thing was dropped from public school curriculum not long after. The generations behind mine are relatively ignorant about where textiles come from...at least in the U.S.

Add to that the "throw away" attitude generated by the manufacturers incorporating planned obsolescence in their manufacturing scheme, and not many children have grown up in households where the daily machines of their life have been repaired when they break down. Families with two working parents just opt to replace a broken refrigerator, washing machine, etc.

So perhaps there is a generational/cultural perception that to replace merely a driveband on a spinning wheel or a reed on a loom is a "big deal".

You and I both know that if you're going to be serious about mastering spinning and/or weaving, you're going to be doing a lot of tinkering with wheels and looms. And that's part of the charm of it...for me anyway.

That's my thinking...but then, maybe I'm just being old and cranky ;)

PS: Same goes for your 5 different tie ups. For a relatively inexperienced weaver who does not understand the relationship between threading, tie-up, and treadling it will indeed appear to be 5 different tie ups. For the weaver who has that depth of understanding, they will know that you have given 5 different ways to express the same thing.

Sheila said...

I agree with everything that Valerie said - and can't think of any better way to say it!

Kerstin på Spinnhuset said...

Valerie, old and cranky might be a good description of me, too (I suppose) (Maybe Sheila, too? If you are who I think: hi! if not, ignore me!)
While being guilty of throwing away a couple of printers ('cos buying new toners was twice the price of a new printer - stingy, what can I say?), I also have a home ec (sorta - "textile sloyd"?) teacher friend, who swears the 12yos she encounters can't even understand the difference between a pin and a sewing needle -
I guess this leads to: we (Swedes) are just slow on this... we'll soon be as ignorant as you (um, 'xcept present company, OF COURSE)
Sad, is what it is.

Sheila said...

Hi Kerstin - I'm Laura's friend, in BC - we met lots of years ago. Yes, I think "old and cranky" fits me too!

Nancy said...

I agree with the comment that the tie-ups are the same... but I must put a plug in for the fact that they may be very different treadling experiences. Any one of them may be both a comfortable and an uncomfortable dance on the treadles, depending on the needs of the weaver. So I wonder if we can say from that philosophical and holistic standpoint that they are very different tie-ups. Food for thought and discussion, thanks! :)

Kerstin på Spinnhuset said...

Nancy, of course you are right.
I almost regret posting them, as I usually harp on about the need to have "all three components" (or at least the structure diagram) before one can decide what type of cloth is described. I am glad that I at least included a link to this post!

Hmm - "holistic" standpoint?

bibliotecaria said...

I would agree with what Valerie said, at the same time that I would see a slightly different connotation. When something is sold used and "complete," then I would assume that it has all the parts necessary to work. If I buy a spinning wheel that needs a drive band to work, and it was sold without the drive band, then it isn't "complete."

Again, with the restore statement, it's much the same situation. If it is lacking an essential-to-its-functioning piece of equipment, something it had when new, then it is not "complete." While I don't regard buying a reed as a difficult process, it fits the meaning of "return" in your listing of synonyms, in the sense that restore means return to functional condition.

Kerstin på Spinnhuset said...

OK, bibliotecaria, I get your meaning.

None of my used looms had reeds, so I find that normal... and the one I did buy new (the AVL) came with a VERY different reed than I had ordered, so in the end the AVL too fell into the category "normal w/o a reed"... -:)

Ellen Turner said...

What an interesting discussion. I think much the way you do, Kerstin, about the meaning of those words. But that is probably because I belong to the same cultural sphere as you, I should think.
As to the tie-ups, they are an excellent illustration of how different weavers might prefer using right or left foot for the plain weave part or a walking treadling of a sort.
My recent scarf in fine silk was basically a plain weave, but with two blocks of four shafts for little lace squares. For that ten- treadle weave I chose to place the two plain weave treadles right in the middle. Very comfortable way of doing it.
Ellen217