Thursday 11 April 2024

Let's delve into this

We delve deeper

Some parts of this blog started off as a comment on Facebook that I decided should not be left there but given a bit more context that might go into a series of discussions on language, expression, vocabulary, usages, culture, and influences. Other rather succinct views on this topic have been expressed as tweets on Twitter. God, forfend I suggest the other name.

The matter of the word ‘delve’ has been a burning topic for the past few days on social media, where someone of privilege and influence inadvertent revealed a bugbear about the use of a word in an email and attributed it to the use of Artificial Intelligence because by his assumption, it was an unfamiliar word and people do not write like that.

Now, I write this in the context mainly of my own upbringing rather than in the broader spectrum of how Nigerians have reacted to this as I 

The different cultures

I was so miffed, even annoyed; the bounding dunce, (and I use that charitably to suggest he is slow to see his own blind spots), in every other area except for his computing nous and venture capital clout, who is just over a year older than I am, was British-born but left for America at the age of 4, meaning my Britishness at that time was even more impactful as to appreciate the good use of the English language than him.

He was schooled in the American system, and what he has retained are vestiges of the English aversion not so much to pomposity, but that unfortunate inability to pigeonhole the unfamiliar into trenchant class structures that remain significant in Great Britain to today.

The education context

Imagine being so well-spoken and still having an accent, it upsets them no end, they cannot believe we had schools that did Eton College for a pittance abroad. (We had reading, writing, comprehension, and spelling classes at the primary schools that I attended in Nigeria, which had a large foreign contingent of pupils and staff.) You attend to every variant of the same question, “How do you speak (or write) better English?” You want to answer, that I had an exceptionally good primary education.

Obviously, using a rich vocabulary is seen as trying to be clever, writing mellifluously is considered beyond our capacity, it is damned with faint praise as flowery. We are just too well-read to use English in a perfunctory and unimaginative way.

The class issue

Every inner self-loathing was inadvertently embodied in that tweet about delve, so unawares. We need to begin to understand that how people express themselves reveals just as much as they intend to say as it is about who they are. We are already self-profiling to observers and to an audience by our conduct and conversation.

On the class matter, I had to tick a box in 2024 that asked about my social mobility status. Well, I was never working class and there are settings where sophistication is effortless that it is more than attainable for many, in speech, comportment, or just the basic sense of self. The world will never attain true egalitarianism, but we can make the world a better place if people use their privilege to lift others rather than knock them down.

In other situations, it is to allow one’s worldview to be open to new ideas, understanding that cultures differ, usages are myriad, and diversity suggests there is not just one perspective. Even in the quest for simplicity, what is simple varies and that is subject to too many variables that we cannot control that we make allowances and gain new opportunities from stretching the limits of our purview.

On the delve matter, there was a bigger issue at play, especially as Paul Graham and his family have returned to the UK since 2016, we have not begun to delve into the many layers involved. I can see through him as through plain glass. Yes, I also use AI in my writing, it is Akintayo Intelligence.

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