This is Howard C. Park's blog. Interests: live music, simulations and modeling, languages, iPod, social and business networking, systems thinking, history of science, management, BBQ, trivia, good coffee, organizational learning, traveling, personal histories.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
being a mouthpiece
I recently heard the phrase "being someone's mouthpiece" twice in recent weeks. This got me thinking about how we've come to use this phrase even though there is, in my opinion, a disconnect between the actual meaning of the phrase and the meaning we've assigned to it.
By "mouthpiece", we usually mean that someone is acting the announcer or message carrier for someone else. He/she is being the mouth-surrogate. However, if you look at a mouthpiece of an instrument, it's the place that TAKES the "instructions" of the original player. It's the "bell" or the sound hole that that should mean the message relayer, or perhaps the whole horn is the message relayer. The "mouthpiece" is really more akin to the "ear". Of course, this makes for a confusing analogy.
Here's another one: Indian giver. I once read an article that criticized a "defend the Native American" article. The original article tried to warn people that the term "Indian giver" was demeaning to the Native Americans. The article I read reminded us that the term is not really a pejorative towards the Indians, instead; its actually a pejorative towards the white man who would give to the Indians, but then take it away. Think Oklahoma. This, too, is confusing. We're not used to a term that uses one group to really describe another group -- that's alot of thinking for a two-word phrase. We're also not used to mainstream terms that actually take a shot at the mainstream.