Tuesday, July 24, 2007

_ivan's response to my post "Training, Coaching, Mentoring":

Ivan's comment was as follows:

"You base your final distinction partly on your definition of the word "coach". But this definition is largely an ethymological one. Ergo, you hinder the development of the language on historical grounds.I would do the same, but I find people countering me saying that the language has evolved, and that "coaching" and "mentoring" mean the same now. Are there any official guidelines that specify whether the meaning of words are that of their origines or that of the majority?"

As someone who accepts neither Darwin's theory of evolution at the macro level (I do accept it on the micro level), nor the idea that all "progress" is good, I naturally resist attempts to foist new words and new meanings simply because they are new. Old words and meanings are sometimes more accurate and therefore more serviceable than new ones.

The whole point of my piece was to argue that there is a sensible distinction to be made between the content suggested by the word "coach" and the content suggested by the word "mentor", and that it is therefore right for us to make that distinction.

However, to answer your specific question: No, there are no "official guidelines" - because there is no official body concerned.

Moreover, in these matters, where official bodies exist (e.g. the Academy in France), they have seemed to fight a losing battle - linguistic ignorance and misuse swell like the sea, without regard for linguists and Academies.

Nevertheless, at least some of us should be thinking about these things and encouraging the right use of words. Without linguistic and grammatical discipline in general (or at least agreement between two parties in dialogue), communication becomes impossible. Sphere: Related Content

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