[Bards] What is a bard?
rudin at ev1.net
Mon Jan 7 09:02:04 PST 2008
Excluding horse armor and other non-germane definitions, the Oxford English
Dictionary gives 4 relevant definitions for the word "bard". Websters
Third gives 5 definitions or sub-definitions. Even my little paperback
Oxford American Dictionary gives 2.
There is not a single definition for this term (or any other non-jargon
term in the English language), and therefore trying to figure out what the
single definition is leads only to frustration.
I can't even give a clear definition for "dog" that unambiguously includes
Great Danes, Pekinese, mutts and feral dogs, but excludes tame wolves,
foxes and coyotes. Nonetheless, I knew what a dog was by age 4. How was I
taught the meaning? By pointing -- "That's a dog, that's one too, but
that's a cat."
Similarly, we're working backwards. We can't define a bard in words and
then use that definition to determine if somebody is a bard. (That's one
of the problems with "standards".) That's not how we primarily learn or
use language. Instead, we say "Ulf is a bard; Ihon is a bard, Donnchadh is
a bard, Nyx is a bard, etc.", and any conclusion about what a bard is can
be formed by induction from the concrete examples.
Don't sweat the definitions. If you think you're a bard, and your audience
thinks you're a bard, then you're a bard.
Robin of Gilwell / Jay Rudin
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