Mudcat Café message #3188013 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #138735   Message #3188013
Posted By: MGM·Lion
15-Jul-11 - 01:07 AM
Thread Name: Do purists really exist?
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
"Descriptor" ··· Thanks, John P. That is the word we want; or maybe "referent". I once wrote in Folk Review, "If every article of household furniture were called a chair, we shouldn't know where to park our arses". Peter Bellamy liked the formulation so much that at one time he went around quoting it at practically every gig. And in a review for The Times Ed, I wrote "The syllogism 'I like folk; I like John Lennon; ∴ the Beatles are folk' won't work: I happen to be very fond both of eating and of the novels of Jane Austen; but that doesn't make me think that Mansfield Park is a chip butty". The Arts Editor headlined the column "Not a Chip Butty".

The point is that every time a word is over-defined in this way, the effect is to diminish the language as a communicative medium. When "folk" as a term for "the sort of music I happen to like" is diminished to the equivalent of the use of "bourgeois" by a marxist to mean simply "someone I don't happen to like", it isn't any particular person who suffers, but the language. One is reminded of Bert Lloyd's point that. if we are to call, say, Big Yellow Taxi a folksong then we shall need a new term for, say, The Seeds Of Love; and hence, if we are to say, as quoted above, "traditional singers like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell", we shall need a new term for Joseph Taylor and John England and Harry Cox {& Martin Carthy too, for that matter}.

It's a free country, you can call it all 'folk' {or 'food'} if you like. Who's to stop you? Choose your own parameters.

But Mind Your Language!

I would urge that this is not 'purism' or 'pedantry' or any such pejorative; it's just logical sense.