Days 11 + 13 / (Un) Poetic Language


On days 11 and 13, we asked you to share unpoetic and poetic words that describe your job. You came up with almost twice as many unpoetic words as poetic words! What does this mean? We have come up with a theory and idea. See below.


Unpoetic Words (rational words, "Kopfwörter")



Poetic Words (emotional words, Gemütswörter)



Here's our theory


We have analysed your compilations of words. We can conclude that “business” has a clearly rational, target-oriented, effective connotation, which is - let's face it - the opposite of “poetic”. We all seem to associate "business" with effective task achievement and measurement, rather than joy and fantasy. “Work”, however, can be both, exhausting but also motivating. For many of us, work definitely has a "poetic" - creative - side.


The role language plays


If language can instruct our imagination, as linguist and researcher Daniel Dor suggests, couldn't we simply re-programme our connotations and thus our attitude?


The German language offers us some possibilities here: "work" can be motivating and have a positive impact on our “Gemüt”. The word “Gemüt” comes from “Mut”, which originally meant something like “Lebenskraft”. Associating business and work with "power, courage, action, and fun" would be a nice thing to do, no?!


We fed all your words into our poetry machine and connected rational words (unpoetic words or Kopfwörter) with emotional words (poetic words or Gemütswörter). The output were some unusual word combinations and collocations, such as "das vertrauensvolle Ressourcenmanagement", “die begeisternde Sitzung”, "die sinnstiftende Bestellung", "die solidarische Einzugsfehlerliste", "die Blütenpracht des Business".


When you read these combinations out loud, how does it sound to you? What feelings and spontaneous associations come to your mind? It may be worthwhile taking a closer look and see what we could do with it, dig deeper and analyse what's behind connotations, play with them and finally define measures and steps that will help us re-programme our attitude.









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© 2020 Christina Merl