Thursday, November 6, 2014

Question Everything: Definitions

I've written about this before: a post here and a post there.  But I've been thinking about it again, so I'm going to see what comes out.

How important is it to you to call things by their correct title?  Are there things that you're more lax about than others?  What about your pronunciation of the things you want to get right?

Group A might call something a "josuke" while group B calls it a "chudaiko".  How do you know which group is right?  Who's to say what's right?  Group Y might spell it "bachi" while group Z spells it "batchi".  Who's correct?

More importantly, if you're in one of those groups and see another group calling/spelling something different than what you're used to, does it bother you?  Why?

A shekere is a hollowed-out gourd with beads or seeds attached to a net that surrounds the body of the gourd.  A hyotan is also a gourd but with the beads on the inside.  I found myself getting upset when people would call a shekere a hyotan, but then I would also catch myself doing the same thing!  I'm still in the process of letting go of that concern; it's something I need to reconcile.  All I can do is to try my best to be consistent in my own terminology in the meantime.

If you're someone to whom terminology really matters, how assured are you that you're saying things correctly?  While there are people who are saying things with the right accent and inflection, there are people who aren't.  Should it be just as important to get the word right as the pronunciation?  Why or why not?  What happens if someone corrects your pronunciation?  Do you get defensive?  Why?

Do you impart the same importance to non-Japanese things, if you incorporate those other things into your art like costumes, equipment, or concepts?  If not, why not?  What do you let "slide" and why?

While a lot of this depends on the group you're in, should your opinion match the group's opinion?  If the group doesn't care, should you?  If the group does cares a lot, should you?

And what happens when someone you respect or are obligated to listen to calls a thing something different to what you're used to?  Do you continue to call it what they did?  Do you revert after because you like your way more?  Why?

Regardless of which "side" you might fall on, there are valid arguments for either:

One side can argue that if you spend so much time worrying about correct terminology and correct pronunciation, you're still not going to be able to please everyone (i.e.; people outside of your group, important guests, etc.)  It also detracts from a more casual environment if people are just there to have fun.  If people know what you're referring to, differences in terms aren't important.

The other side can argue that part of the art is learning the proper words and way of saying those words.  It might be important to recognize where things come from and to respect those things, they need to be named correctly.

10 years ago, there wasn't that much information available to the taiko community; now there's almost TOO much available.  How much of that information matters to you may not matter to the person next to you, or quite the opposite!  But as always, you should ask where you stand on things and more importantly, why?

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