What is a Word?

October 2021:Toronto, CA


Most of us are familiar with the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words", but what really is a word?

Ever since I was a tiny tot, I enjoyed reading; words were a companion for me and during my teenage years, the derivations of words became an obsession.  My first books were the Little Golden Books, where I read rhyming tales and saw pictures of This Little Piggy, Mother Goose and The Little Red Hen. Now I'm recounting my own tales and producing my own pictures, which back then I never thought I would be doing - I guess you can't change the things you love - anyway, not the point of this post.

One of the duties of maintaining a website is ensuring that it's always optimized using SEO guidelines, which means keeping abreast of all search engine algorithm changes (hold on, I'm getting to the point). After having read a few articles, I learnt of BERT.  This Google algorithm attempts to rank website content based on the entire context of and varied meaning of words used, instead of the traditional string of keywords, to ensure the search engine is providing relevant results for searches.

Reading about BERT reminded me of that stubborn project where I was researching the meaning of and possible mistranslation of archaic alphabets produced words.  Specifically how apparent varied meanings of a word might have come from one source, and took on different forms based on who was using it during a certain period in time - context.  The meaning which was, either, later forgotten/removed (error 404) or the memory of the word's original intent was distorted through the transit of time.

For example, photography as a word, according to our current awareness, is the result of merging two Greek words that translate to "draw/write with light".

What I'm trying to understand is words like "root/route", which can mean the root of a tree; the source of something, as in the root directory of all the branches/network of a software program; a route along a network of roads or rivers; root canal, not currently understood as a water passageway.  Thousands of years from now, after all the trees have gone, system architects constructing web spaces may see the phrase "root directory" and not know it was inspired by the structure of a living organism.  Someone searching for "tree roots" will likely produce results of something other than the physical trees you see outside your window.

Coincidentally, or maybe not, this idea of soon to be obsolete things is another one of my nine photography project concepts awaiting production.

I can ramble on…. If you feel like it, let me know your take on this.  Don't worry, I won't stalk (as in pursue, not stem of a plant) you afterwards.


as Captain Jack Sparrow said in Pirates of the Caribbean: savvy?

❤ Christina