November 14, 2005

I pay them extra and make them mean what I like

I can't say enough in praise of r0ml Lefkowitz' talks on Semasiology of Open Source (this year's and last year's, from the O'Reilly Open Source Convention). Now that kind of thing OUGHT to enliven a meeting of librarians, but doesn't. The atmosphere of library meetings is tainted by the fact that the participants are mostly fixated on an Institution that I love in the abstract, but find a lot to be pessimistic and critical about in the particular and concrete. Part of the problem is the attitude of most or at least many librarians: all too many are fraidy-cats, cringingly grateful for the crumbs that Academe bestows, and (with precious few exceptions) very much disinclined to rock even the boats that most NEED rocking. Another irritant for me is that many librarians just aren't very curious about the territory outside the Profession. Few would see why they should listen to a keynote from an Open Source convention, let alone a couple of hours on Semasiology.

I must confess that Semasiology was not in my lexicon until I heard these sessions, though attention to the shifting meanings of words has been one of my lifelong playgrounds. (A Google Scholar search vouchsafes that "Carnap divided the study of language into syntactics, semasiology, and sematology..." ...and Carita Paradis' Reinforcing adjectives: a cognitive semantic perspective on grammaticalization reminds me that I've always been interested in the linguist's perspectives on language).

Posted by oook at November 14, 2005 07:14 PM