Define A Bespoke Pen

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Mortalis

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Since the meaning of the work bespoke is basically something custom made or made to specific characteristics I would say that any "pen" made specifically for someone or to someone's specific wants and desires would be a bespoke pen,

The word bespoke (/bəˈspoʊk/) has evolved from a verb meaning "to speak for something" to its contemporary usage as an adjective that has changed from describing first tailor-made suits and shoes, and later, anything commissioned to a particular specification
 

magpens

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I don't like the word "bespoke", especially as applied to our craft of pen-making.

Building on what Mortalis has posted .....

Sometimes "custom" is used, but it is not the best either since every pen we make is a custom pen in some sense.

So, as I interpret the word, "bespoke" would seem to distinguish between a custom pen that is made from a kit of purchased parts, and a full-custom pen made entirely from scratch (with the possible exception of the clip, the nib, the ink holder, and a spring or two).
To me, bespoke is pretty much synonymous with "kitless", which also is somewhat ill-defined but more to my liking because it is a little more descriptive.

One common online dictionary refers to "bespoke" as an adjective, largely associated with tailoring, and meaning ...

made for a particular customer or user.
"a bespoke suit"
  • making or selling bespoke goods, especially clothing.
    "bespoke tailors"
 
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egnald

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Greetings. As with many words in today's language, the meaning of bespoke has become muddled. It is not only used in describing pen crafting, but also in many other areas of today's culture. There are bespoke restaurants, bespoke wines, bespoke barber shops, bespoke insurance plans, bespoke software, etc. etc. etc.

I'm sure that the intended or implied definition of bespoke specific to a pen is "made from scratch" or basically the opposite of "made from a kit".

Regards,
Dave
 

Dalecamino

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I've often wondered WHY/Where the word suddenly became attached to the kitless/componentless pen making process. I could be wrong again, but it seems that in the midst of youtube videos on the HOW TO Make a kitless pen, someone felt the need to be the Standout amoung all others, and placed a keyword that was different from the rest. BESPOKE was the best they could come up with. Just my opinion, but also in my opinion it makes little sense to me, and I feel it degrades the craft to a degree. And I'm being nice about it. It's partly the reason you don't see many kitless pens from my shop these days.
 

BryanMurphy

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Thanks everyone. This has been very educational. I've wondered the same thing.

When I was researching keywords on etsy found bespoke being associated with a lot of different handmade products. I looked it up and found the same definition you guys did. So, by definition, a pen - even made with a kit - is bespoke. So I considered using it on my Etsy store, but first decided to search out the pens stores using the term. All of them were kitless pens. My brain immediately made the connection and it has stuck.

So is bespoke a term that hasn't always been associated with kitless pens?

Could etsy be the origin? :)
 

mark james

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I've often wondered WHY/Where the word suddenly became attached to the kitless/componentless pen making process. I could be wrong again, but it seems that in the midst of youtube videos on the HOW TO Make a kitless pen, someone felt the need to be the Standout amoung all others, and placed a keyword that was different from the rest. BESPOKE was the best they could come up with. Just my opinion, but also in my opinion it makes little sense to me, and I feel it degrades the craft to a degree. And I'm being nice about it. It's partly the reason you don't see many kitless pens from my shop these days.
I agree Chuck. It really sounds like a made-up word that sounds silly. JMO.
 

its_virgil

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Bespoke is "made to order" or "made for or commissioned" for a customer. So, if I make a custom (kitless) pen to place in inventory to sell to anyone then is it a bespoke pen? Likewise, if a customer specifically orders and prepays for a snake skin sierra, is it a bespoke pen? Just a couple of thoughts.

A verb that acts as a noun is called a gerund. What is a verb used as an adjective called?

Do a good turn daily!
Don
 

mark james

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Bespoke is "made to order" or "made for or commissioned" for a customer. So, if I make a custom (kitless) pen to place in inventory to sell to anyone then is it a bespoke pen? Likewise, if a customer specifically orders and prepays for a snake skin sierra, is it a bespoke pen? Just a couple of thoughts.

A verb that acts as a noun is called a gerund. What is a verb used as an adjective called?

Do a good turn daily!
Don
I was never good at grammar. However, tomorrow night is Friday at my house, that means "Bespoke Pizza Night for my wife." 🤣 🍕 .
 

MRDucks2

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Bespoke pizza on Friday Night for my wife, also. HOWEVER, I will often make the bespoke pizza from a kit. Her bespoke pizza is my frozen pizza!

If it isn’t a made to order/commissioned pen (or anything) it isn’t bespoke.

I had a lady request a pen of a certain style wanting the red and black color of the Louisville Cardinals, indicated she was a huge Louisville fan, liked “bling” and wanted to spend anywhere from $65 to $85. I made 3 bespoke pens one red and black custom cast and scrollsawn pen for $65, a label cast Louisville Cardinal pen for about $72 and a custom cast red and black pen with Swarovski crystals for $87.50. She liked bling better than the Cardinals. So I sold ONE bespoke pen. Put two unspoke pens in inventory as they are bespoke no more.
 

Valleyboy

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I’ve thought about this a lot.
It’s interesting that we call them kitless pens. Pens were being made this way long before kits were invented. So if anything there are just “pens”
and “kit pens”. Like cars and kit cars. I’d prefer just “pens”‘to describe everything to be honest.
I make both types and only use the phrase “kit pens” or “kitless” on these forums with other pen makers because we all understand what we mean. Even then we could just call them all pens as everybody can pretty much tell in most cases if it’s kit or not. To my ear they’re not very attractive terms for describing what are very beautiful items. “Kit pen” somehow sounds a bit cheap to me and “kitless” sounds like maybe you couldn’t be bothered to use a kit 😊.
At pen shows the customers will generally know the difference but when selling to the general public they don’t have any idea what those phrases mean. So I just say they are all hand made. If they ask why the prices vary I explain the use of components and how that effects the amount of work and hence the price..
The only real label I use is “bespoke” if a customer wants something specifically different from my standard “off the peg” models. Because anything bespoke is immediately more expensive right? 😊

Cheers
Ash
 

jalbert

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I've often wondered WHY/Where the word suddenly became attached to the kitless/componentless pen making process. I could be wrong again, but it seems that in the midst of youtube videos on the HOW TO Make a kitless pen, someone felt the need to be the Standout amoung all others, and placed a keyword that was different from the rest. BESPOKE was the best they could come up with. Just my opinion, but also in my opinion it makes little sense to me, and I feel it degrades the craft to a degree. And I'm being nice about it. It's partly the reason you don't see many kitless pens from my shop these days.
People classifying kitless pens using a term you dislike is influencing your decision to make fewer kitless pens?
 

jttheclockman

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I’ve thought about this a lot.
It’s interesting that we call them kitless pens. Pens were being made this way long before kits were invented. So if anything there are just “pens”
and “kit pens”. Like cars and kit cars. I’d prefer just “pens”‘to describe everything to be honest.
I make both types and only use the phrase “kit pens” or “kitless” on these forums with other pen makers because we all understand what we mean. Even then we could just call them all pens as everybody can pretty much tell in most cases if it’s kit or not. To my ear they’re not very attractive terms for describing what are very beautiful items. “Kit pen” somehow sounds a bit cheap to me and “kitless” sounds like maybe you couldn’t be bothered to use a kit 😊.
At pen shows the customers will generally know the difference but when selling to the general public they don’t have any idea what those phrases mean. So I just say they are all hand made. If they ask why the prices vary I explain the use of components and how that effects the amount of work and hence the price..
The only real label I use is “bespoke” if a customer wants something specifically different from my standard “off the peg” models. Because anything bespoke is immediately more expensive right? 😊

Cheers
Ash
Ash this topic about kitless and kit pens has been beaten to death here many times. Especially when people sell their pens. Then we got into calling them components instead of kits. If you do a search here you will see lots of discussions on this topic. To have to make up a word to make sales is fraud to me. You and I make custom handmade pens one of a kind pens. I say one of a kind because no 2 pens are exactly alike when making anything handmade. Make it on some tool or laser than it is not hand made any more. Yes you program the tool but it was not your hand that produced the pen. Again a topic that can beat with a stick. People have asked how far does a pen have to be made for it to be kitless if you use kit nibs and things like that. Again subjective. Take a look at the Bash contest here that is held every Feb and look at the kitless contest and you will see rollerballs, ballpoint and fountain pens. There are some talented pen makers here that use metal lathes and make all parts except for ink refills. Whoever placed the word Bespoke on this I have no idea why. It is this generation of trying to reinvent the English language. It does not even roll off the tongue when used. Custom made should be used on etsy and any other selling sight and more people would understand that than bespoke. I had to actually look the word up because I never used it in my entire life.
 

darrin1200

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I’ll open by saying that i am in no way taking anything from any of our members in what they do. This forum abounds with fantastic work.
Bespoke is a term that started being coined by custom/kitless makers, to try and differentiate ourselves from kit pens. Bespoke, traditionally, refers to something that is made to order from base materials. Hence its use in the fashion industry. Someone would come in, get measured, fitted and and choose the material. The taylor would go into his/her workshop, get a bolt of cloth and make the ordered outfit.

I agree that everyone here make custom pens. But, there are various qualitatives that should be added, depending on your level of custom work. I have seen many kit pens sold as handcrafted, with the indication that the entire piece was handmade by the maker. That’s like going to IKEA, buying a wooden dresser flat-pack. Taking it home assembling it, painting it in a really cool paint scheme, and calling it handcrafted furniture.

I am sure that craftsman like JT, who do some incredible segmented work, would take some offence to someone making a slim line pen out of multi coloured spectraply with the following.

“Beautiful, handcrafted ball point pen. Crafted from wood, using 14 individually coloured layers. Fitted with precision fittings and accents.”

While nothing in that statement is false, but it definitely leads the reader to an incorrect conclusion.

At its basis, pen making is an excellent beginner project for a turner. But to say that the two pens below are: “Handcrafted, custom pens.” without qualifiers, is a severe injustice to the skill and work involved in making the top one.

C77D2745-8D86-4CCA-85E7-CF1310FB1AAA.jpeg


To say that it is fraudulent, to find a word that sets my fully handcrafted work apart from kit pens, is very wrong and actually somewhat insulting.

I wish there was a proper term to describe what I do other than pen maker, which has been diluted to meaninglessness. Bespoke is about as close as I have found, as most of my “Kitless” pens are made to the order and specifications of a client.

End of small rant.
 

magpens

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@Valleyboy ..... re: - "pens", "kitless pens", and "kit pens".

Ash, you say .... "To my ear they’re not very attractive terms for describing what are very beautiful items. “Kit pen” somehow sounds a bit cheap to me and “kitless” sounds like maybe you couldn’t be bothered to use a kit 😊. "

I would say that, to my ear, "kitless" and "witless" have similar sounds, and both words indicate that SOMETHING IS MISSING.

But, in actual fact, "kitless" pens have more to them than "kit pens", but only WE really know that !!! :oops::rolleyes:o_O

As for "bespoke", nobody at all seems to know what it really means.
We run to a dictionary for the hoped-for clarification which is actually not provided, largely because it is such a weird word.

We like to say, "I made this kitless pen" (at least among ourselves), but there is much less pride in saying, "I made this kit pen."

The term "kit" has connotations of the model cars that many of us made in our early years, all of which ended up in the garbage.

And it's pointless to tell a potential buyer that we "made a kit pen" because they then think that all we did is "assemble".

As Darrin just said, getting in a mere microsecond before me, we need some new words to describe our craft.
 

duncsuss

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As Darrin just said, getting in a mere microsecond before me, we need some new words to describe our craft
Wouldn't help. As soon as a word is found/chosen to distinguish (non-kit) pens from kit pens, somebody will be using it on Etsy to describe a Jr. Gent.
 

jttheclockman

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Again we have been down this road and these questions have been brought up. I will say this people buying on etsy, ebay or whatever have no idea what a kit pen is or a kitless pen is. When you use words like that in your description on your web sites you are trying to differentiate yourself from other sellers and only they know what you mean. Trying to come up with catch words is an advertising ploy that sends your site to the top of a page in google. To me I am insulted when someone says that kitless is a bespoken pen when my kit pen with a cast or segmented blank is as much as a bespoke pen in the eyes of the definition. Just because components were used makes it no less in value than someone who made the pen blank and added some threads to it. Just do not come on here and say your pen is a bespoken pen and think that it was kitless they are above my kit pen or anyone else who makes kit pens. Sounds abit snobbish to me when that word is used.
 
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This has been a very interesting and informative thread. Some I agree with and some I don't. Here's my take for what it's worth.

I sell "semi-custom" knives. People often ask me what a semi-custom knife is. I buy my blanks from companies who sell the exact same blank to other knife makers. Everything else on the knife is built to the buyers specification down to the dye color on the sheath. But, I'm up front and honest with my knife buying customer. A custom knife is a knife, in my view, made completely by the same person, from raw bar stock to the final finish on the sheath. There's lots of people selling "custom knives" that, in some cases, never touch the "makers" hands. They sell them on Etsy all the time.

As for my pens that I make and sell I use the word "Pen". It's neither custom or semi-custom, it's a pen. Now I understand that there needs to be a difference between those of us who use "kits" and those that completely make the components from scratch. In my view if the kit less makers make the entire pen, and I mean in every aspect of it, they have the right to call it anything they want. If bespoke is the term they use so be it.

It's not a term I'll ever apply to anything I make, including a suit 😂, but I'll never, ever have to explain to a customer or potential customer what "bespoke" means. In my view, "Custom vs. Semi-custom" says it all. To be honest, the first time I heard the term I thought someone had used a part of a wagon wheel called, "the bespoke spoke":eek:.
 
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Valleyboy

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I’m British the word “Bespoke” is used widely in the uk (not for pens) and is very much part of the common vernacular over here. It just means anything that is made the way a customer wants it as oppose to a standard model you might offer.
You might order a bespoke kitchen for example. This means the cupboards and worktops are made to fit exactly your shape of your kitchen and in the materials you decide. You could say I want solid gold work surfaces and oak guilted doors and hinges made out of goats horns and they’d do it. It’s bespoke. That’s exactly what it means. So it usually ends up costing more. The alternative is to buy “off the shelf” cupboards and units in a set of pre-defined sizes and colour options and you fit it into your kitchen by chopping it around etc.
So it’s a very common word and not “made up” to defraud customers. Try going to a tailor on Savile row and saying his bespoke suits are defrauding customers. Good luck with that.
Similarly if I have to go and make different mandrels because a customer wants to have a massive pen I don’t usually make then it’s bespoke and so it can, (doesn’t always), cost more to make. I may need to practice it a few times and waste some material getting it perfected. If they want solid gold clips and I usually do gold plate then it’s bespoke. Ultimately it all adds to the time and cost compared to a standard pen.
I use it in that sense and it is appropriate here to do so in the UK. Maybe not in North America.
Cheers
Ash
 

jttheclockman

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Been here for 15 years and never seen or read the word bespoke untill this past few days. I guess it is another term we need to put in the library of used words and abbreviations with an explanation what it refers to. Guess I will have to get use to it. Like the "New Norm"
 
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Been here for 15 years and never seen or read the word bespoke untill this past few days. I guess it is another term we need to put in the library of used words and abbreviations with an explanation what it refers to. Guess I will have to get use to it. Like the "New Norm"

Gotta disagree with you on this John. You don't have to use it if you don't want to. It's not a word I'll ever use and as I get older, and more crotchety, I'll explain to people that I sell custom pens if they're kit less (which will probably never happen). I've been rejected from selling my knives at "custom" knife shows only to go to the show and have the "maker" tell me that he designed the blade, had it made by someone else, shipped to someone else to have the handle installed and then had a sheath maker make the sheath. The "maker" never touched the knife until it was completed then took all the credit. I quite going to knife shows as I found many of the makers to be very snobbish and in fact not actually the maker.
 

leehljp

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To my ear they’re not very attractive terms for describing what are very beautiful items. “Kit pen” somehow sounds a bit cheap to me and “kitless” sounds like maybe you couldn’t be bothered to use a kit 😊.
. . . Because anything bespoke is immediately more expensive right? 😊
Cheers, Ash
Words are very culturally sensitive. The same meaning and value does not translate to another culture, but the vast majority of people are set on the "meaning" of the word than the value of the word.
Japanese word "Nesshin" means "enthusiastic" in English. But Nesshin is a negative word in that culture (among older people) while enthusiastic is a positive word in English. Japanese "enthusiasm" = the nail (individual) that sticks up gets hammered down!

Many of the same Word in Britain to Australia to US have varied meanings and values.
 

Valleyboy

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Words are very culturally sensitive. The same meaning and value does not translate to another culture, but the vast majority of people are set on the "meaning" of the word than the value of the word.
Japanese word "Nesshin" means "enthusiastic" in English. But Nesshin is a negative word in that culture (among older people) while enthusiastic is a positive word in English. Japanese "enthusiasm" = the nail (individual) that sticks up gets hammered down!

Many of the same Word in Britain to Australia to US have varied meanings and values.
Yep.
Nicely articulated by George Bernard Shaw who said “The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language”.
 

TonyL

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Something is only "beaten to death" if the person asking the question thinks so (and therefore unlikely to be asked). This forum/site is for sharing of information in pursuit and advancement of penturning etc among other hobby and non-hobby relates topics. It welcomes and serves turners of all levels. It is silent on the what can be asked or how often question about penturning can be asked. The IAP has some very simple rules which a minority of folks violate, but attempt to conceal them with smiley faces and telling us how they are not make an X or Y (prohibited statement). They must think I am stupid, and I am fine with that.

If the admins are listening, please let me know if the the IAP's charter has changed. I really don't want to hear from anyone else but the moderators on this. We want peace on the freakin' streets, but some can't accept a freak' word that someone chooses or more benignly, simply asks for a definition. I see the same cr#$ on the FB site (some were former members of this site). We are still talking about penturning right!? Unfreakin' believable. Now, my rant is over.
 

MRDucks2

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One thing I believe we are batting back and forth is craftsmanship vs sales.

The word bespoke has little to do with overall craftsmanship other than it being made to order. But, it has a marketing perception to possibly aid in sales.

Exotic woods do not result in a higher level of craftsmanship. Someone may say they only use exotic woods as a part of their marketing to lend a perception to aid in sales.

In a different market, Quality Domestic Wood May result in better sales, but not necessarily a better or worse pen.

Many of us will “cast our own resin” for pens which lends a different perception to the unknowing than saying “It’s made of plastic”. Still, no real indication of better or worse craftsmanship.

Nothing will ever beat experience, explanations, show and tell to build what is most important, REPUTATION (which only comes with time/exposure) for the quality of your craftsmanship.

If I decide to start casting blanks with diamond dust, know that I am competing with Tim McKenzie, want the same price per blank (or more) and need to differentiate, I may market them as Unicorn Horn. Doesn’t mean they are better or worse, just means I am trying to stand out.
 

jttheclockman

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Something is only "beaten to death" if the person asking the question thinks so (and therefore unlikely to be asked). This forum/site is for sharing of information in pursuit and advancement of penturning etc among other hobby and non-hobby relates topics. It welcomes and serves turners of all levels. It is silent on the what can be asked or how often question about penturning can be asked. The IAP has some very simple rules which a minority of folks violate, but attempt to conceal them with smiley faces and telling us how they are not make an X or Y (prohibited statement). They must think I am stupid, and I am fine with that.

If the admins are listening, please let me know if the the IAP's charter has changed. I really don't want to hear from anyone else but the moderators on this. We want peace on the freakin' streets, but some can't accept a freak' word that someone chooses or more benignly, simply asks for a definition. I see the same cr#$ on the FB site (some were former members of this site). We are still talking about penturning right!? Unfreakin' believable. Now, my rant is over.
So when you see topics and people show a horse being beaten. Why is it my words that get taken out of context Tony and trampled on?? I just used those words to explain that topic has been talked about intensely and do a search and you can see some of the past responses. That is all. Just so tired of this picking on me for things I post. I post alot here and this is getting annoying. If you do not like my choice of words just block me Tony. Simple thing to do.!!!!!!!!!! Trolling like this brings out the worst. No need for this.
 
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mark james

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I'm seeing the term Bespoke Pen used more frequently. I may have missed a terminology change somewhere along the line. What exactly is a "Bespoke Pen"?

Hope I'm not opening a can of controversy!
Sigh... More like a bomb in my septic tank!
 
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I quite going to knife shows as I found many of the makers to be very snobbish and in fact not actually the maker.
I found that in a couple of shows I did some year back... I did a show in Oak Ridge at their Civic Center... I had mostly pepper mills and bowls, but did have a few pens... there was two other pen makers there as well... one was an older fellow who had maybe 2 dozen pens, mostly the Americana style sold by CSUSA.... the other fellow had a pretty good assortment that he was selling pretty cheap.... in conversation with him, casually asked his finish method... was quickly told that he had figured out his finish by himself and it was proprietary... everyone else could figure out their own finish... his finish wasn't that good and in the end both the older fellow with only 2 dozen pens and me with about 15 or 20 sold more than he did, even though our prices were higher.
Also at that show was a bowl turner who had some really nice segmented bowls... but he immediately on finding out I was a fellow turner told me "NO Pictures".... these are all my own designs.... (I've seen the patterns in other magazines and venues).... they were nice bowls though.

I've said many times, wood turning isn't rocket science... I'll talk wood turning all day and tell you anything you ask me... even if you copy one of my turnings, it won't be the same or necessarily look the same.
 

sbwertz

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I always thought of "bespoke" as meaning made to the customer's specifications. But then, I'm a linguist (5 languages) and words and their meanings may mean different things to me. I will admit that I cringe sometimes at the corruption of perfectly good words with very specific, useful meanings, mostly by Madison Avenue.
 

TonyL

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I always thought of "bespoke" as meaning made to the customer's specifications. But then, I'm a linguist (5 languages) and words and their meanings may mean different things to me. I will admit that I cringe sometimes at the corruption of perfectly good words with very specific, useful meanings, mostly by Madison Avenue.
Big fan of Charles Harrington Elster (LIU). Own many of his recordings and recommended books.
 

leehljp

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Are you familiar with "World Wide Words?"
Thanks Sharon. I learned early on, both on other forums and here that words have different meanings in different regions in the US, and within industries, the same word is often used differently from region to region.

Once I learned what a "Myers-Briggs" test was, I began to study that process intently and it really helped in my understanding of different groups and how needed to use different words for different personality styles or even specific groups in an organization. The same word is taken totally different from group to group, and in essence each one re-defines a word (in practice) from its original meaning. That irritates me to no end, but at least I am, or was aware of the propensity for changing the nuance of a word for their own context.
 

sbwertz

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I once was sitting in a booth with a couple of friends from the UK. We were making plans for the next day. My girlfriend didn't have a phone, and one of the Brits told her he would come around and knock her up in the morning. Just about brought the house down.
 
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BigRob777

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Here in Delaware I would have thought it would end in an n. Be spoken, but isn't a word with which I am familiar. My Dad would probably shred my point (He was a Seniors English teacher at my high school).
 
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