Friday, November 23, 2007

Table Talk

I really enjoy watching people who are good at what they do. There is this kind of pleasure that goes with seeing someone do something that has a high level of difficulty while making it look easy. This is why I like to watch sports, or even a carpenter or an artist. Skilled labor, like my brother who sets tile, is impressive when done by someone of his ability. Yet there is one trade that is often overlooked but is very impressive when done by a skilled person, talking.

We all can talk, and most of us can communicate but there are some people who can "talk". I am not talking about those people who chatter on and on. I am talking about the people who have refined their skills in the area of communication and can lead a conversation or host a dinner. These people are professionals, they are deipnosophists. For those academicians out there, deipnosophist is derived from two Latin words meaning "dinner" and "a wise man".

The art of talking at one time was recognized as a skill more than it is now and often that skill was employed around the dinner table. My mind turns to the many Jane Austin stories I have read or heard in which people had form and structure to their dinner parties and the weight of the conversation was to be carried by the host. So while passing judgement on a party, not only the food and accommodations were taken into account, but also the conversation.

I dont know why we have lost this respect for the deipnosophists among us. Maybe it is the technological age which allows people to live and form relationships without ever talking. Or maybe it is the degeneration of the family and the loss of the traditional family dinner. Whatever the case may be, I respect those who have honed their skills of communication and have become professionals of table talk. I have also made it my endeavor to sharpen my skills in this area though I am but a novice in this lofty profession.


  1. you know, my brother jonny is studying linguistics at truman university, i think you may have a future in that too.

  2. I love words and lingusitics but I am investing in a different kind of language. On that is very impersonal yet very logical, and generates expected results. In my personal life, however, words are a passion of mine. I hope I get to see jonny at Christmas so I can ask him about bilabial fricatives.