Friday, September 2, 2016

Bad Reception out There

Many of us who earn our living in one way or another--writing, editing, teaching, for instances--through our use of words are alert to which words draw what kinds of attention, when to use certain words instead of others, and how, throughout history, certain words have taken on meanings previously deemed unthinkable. 

In much the same manner musicians select a particular key, say D minor or F sharp, or B flat, in which to set a composition, users of words are adept at choosing from an array of possibilities to supplement the payoff effect they have in mind.

Words and their effects are heard, read, overheard, repeated; they are texted, printed, faxed. The total effect of them, when it arrives, results in the matter at hand here: the past participle of the verb to receive. 

Words are, indeed, received. Often, words are of such a nature as to make them well received or poorly received. The absence of words having any effect, much less the desired one, equates to those words having for all intents and purposes fallen on deaf ears.

For your own, continuing part in this parade and destination of words, you speak and write in received standard English, often doing so after you have received an inspiration or challenge for some individual response. You proceed with the unspoken but no less significant hope they will not fall on deaf ears or cause the eyes to blink or skip. You are hopeful of , worst case scenario, engaged recognition, by which is meant an openness to consideration.

When a letter is sent, then delivered, the letter has been accepted, which is a good word to link with received. Your message, having been received, is accepted. Next comes the more difficult part. How does the recipient feel about  the contents? 

You, at the moment, are disappointed by the narrative of a book, written by an author you had previous admiration for; her work, although it appears to have been well received by a number of critics, although greeted with enthusiasm by you for the first several pages, has now devolved into a situation where you have some difficult decisions to make.

In your time, you've gone to many receptions, which is to say gatherings, the purpose of which was to accept and exchange greetings and ideas with one or more individuals. Indeed, on occasion, you've been the one or among the ones for whom the reception or gathering was initiated. Were you a football player of a certain sub-culture, you'd be rated by, among other things, the number of your receptions, or passes caught.

More than once, someone has, using an expression in rapid retreat from contemporary use, asked you if you got his or her drift, a euphemism for asking if you received the full, unambiguous meaning of something they'd said to you. 

More than once a publisher has informed you it has received your submission or, in cases where you have been invited to send something, your manuscript, and more often than you're comfortable recalling, there were times when you heard by mail or phone from certain individuals informing you they have not received a payment, the nature of which was made even more clear to you than it had been when you first neglected to send the payment prompting the notice.

Within the world of electronic communication, you're with some frequency offered the opportunity to check here if you no longer wish to receive these or any other messages from "us." Within the broader world of reality, there is received wisdom, which is in general a code for common sense or the wisdom of a particular culture or philosophy.

Much of the time, a conversation that begins with an acknowledgment of the receipt of something you sent augurs well for a satisfactory if not outright outstanding outcome. Conversations beginning with the announcement of nothing being put forth by you seem to lead in the opposite direction, where words outlining an ultimatum or a growing severity of disappointment are not the best word choices for insuring that you have a happy day.

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