Monday, 22 September 2008


On the whiteboard which sits on the wall across from my desk at work is written the following:

"Striving for consistency in our wrongnitude"

and the eternal question:

"product dependency map" or "product dependency network"?

and the most recent addition:

What does 'methodology' define which isn't defined by 'method'?

To the best of my knowledge, the whiteboard has never had anything useful written on it.

The first statement was an attempt to define a mission for the pedants who make it their work to stifle progress by imposing endless 'controls' programme assurance function. The second is an example of the sort of question which keeps one of the afore-mentioned function awake at night. The third is a challenge posed by the latest, and quite possibly the greatest, pedant to set foot on the 20th floor. He's certainly the most entertaining.

It's a good question, though, and I may think twice before using the word 'methodology' the next time I'm bid-writing. Having said that, using the word 'method' where 'methodology' would be expected would probably sounds wrong to the recipient's ear. Can't be having that...

It has been a dull day in the office. It was the sort of day which would be more productively endured at home, with my head down in my laptop bashing out the bits of work which had to be done. Unfortunately, my customer doesn't like the idea of contractors working off-site. This is a pity. I miss having the odd work from home day.

Having said that, had I have worked from home today, I would have missed the following humdrum-breaking highlights:

  1. A woman cycling down the road holding in her left hand the left handlebar of her bicycle whilst with her right hand she supported the frame of a second bicycle over her shoulder. I assume one or other of the bicycles was a recent illegal acquisition. On possibly both. Either way, I was impressed with the balancing act. It can't be easy to cycle whilst carrying a second bike.
  2. Bearing witness to a thirty minute conversation on 'ologies', mostly centred around 'methodology', but branching out into arachnology, entomology, enigmatology, and other such 'ologies'. It may have extended beyond this period, but by this time my brain was melting and I had to excuse myself from my desk and instead have an equally inane but grace-savingly work-related conversation on the science or lack of it in applying RAGs to stakeholders (This is not as invasive as it might at first sound. It's also rather more fun as it gives me an excuse to marvel at the fact that jobs such as 'stakeholder engagement coordination administration manager' exist - a fine example of job title inflation if ever there was one...)

Yes, those were the highlights of the day...

Pedants are fascinating things. What two pedants in close proximity can find to argue over is amazing, and is certainly worthy of study. (There must be at least enough material for a good few PhD theses...). Watching the pair of them go at it today, it struck me that the encounter would stand comparison with some of the most memorable bouts in the ring, or matches on the field of play. I can't believe that they don't have to practise to get as skilled as they are... I'm rather pleased they were just arguing over a couple of words - I dread to think what might have ensued had they have been attempting literary criticism.

...and before someone points this out, I know pedantology isn't a word. It probably deserves to be. It's certainly more deserving of existence than, say, algology. Heck, I can barely believe just how much extra useless information I have assimilated today. It's almost certainly made the stagger to and from the office worthwhile.


Reading the Signs said...

The real stuff of life happens in the margins, is what I always say, Doctor Why. I am not a pedant, but I am someone who likes to make pronouncements. There must be a word for that kind of thing. I'd be pleased if you thought of a suitable one with an ology at the end of it.

Kahless said...

Boy, I am pleased I dont work for your company.

But Why? said...

I'd strongly urge the creation of an 'ology' only for the study of such phenomena. But you are right, the world is lacking a word to describe those of us who enjoy pronoucing, the more vocal element of society. I shall ponder that one the next time I get a day with brain capacity to spare. Yes, you are right. The language is missing a word...

In fairness to my employers (and my colleagues there), I should point out that the colleagues I'm referring to in this post are the guys I work with daily at the customer site, most of whom are random contractors. A small fraction belong to the customer organisation. The pedant fringe are all contractors, so I'm also not tarring my customer colleagues with the pedantry brush.

I should also point out that they're all fairly agreeable people. They just have the ability to make my mind boggle on occasion(!)

trousers said...

I engaged in some pedantry the other day - someone at work told me I'd given them the wrong directions to get somewhere.

I replied by telling them I didn't recall giving them any directions to get anywhere, but they insisted that I had done.

"well if that's the case, what did I tell you?"

"you told me to head down this road, turn left [and so on and so forth] and then it was just after the mini-garage"

"DEFINITELY not me, I said triumphantly: I have NEVER, until now, used the word mini-garage in my entire life."

Well it might not even be pedantry but it was petty at the very least...and I was given an apology!

But Why? said...

Small victories... They can make all the difference.

What is a 'mini-garage'? (Use of the word is evidently spreading...)

Can Bass 1 said...

Unfortunately, musicology IS a real word, and our DoM fancies himself as a musicologist!

But Why? said...

Why, hello Can Bass 1,
Does his musicology cause you distress?