Interchange Conference Transcript
[Message #1 07:34:13 AM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
In Carroll's _Alice_, Alice and Humpty Dumpty have the following exchange about words:
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things." "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master -- that is all" (163).
Humpty Dumpty's comment suggests that language is more about the person who uses words than the words themselves. How does Nick's experience with the word "frindle" support Humpty Dumpty's statement? What does Nick's experience tell us about how words work?
[Message #2 01:13:38 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
Nick's experience tells us that we are the master of words-that they exist simply because we use them. So, if we use a word enough, and enough of us do it, then it will exist as a word in our vocabulary.
[Message #3 01:15:05 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
I think "frindle" supports Humpty Dumpty's statement because Nick proved that he, not the word, was the master. He made up a word, and it survived because he told enough people about it.
[Message #4 01:15:23 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
RE: #2: What contributes to the success of frindle as a word, then, in addition to Nick's creation of it?
[Message #5 01:15:28 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
I think we see that a lot in our culture anyway. Where a word can evolve from one meaning to another,or a new word, usually starting out as 'slang' becomes more commonly used.
[Message #6 01:16:26 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
I think the fact that so many people used it and also at the beginning where all the kids took turns asking for it at the store....she knew what they wanted pretty quickly
[Message #7 01:17:07 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
The success of the word findle is due to its inventiveness, making changing the status quo became added excitement to an otherwise static subject.
[Message #8 01:17:42 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
RE: #6: Yes -- Nick's ability to get others to use it seems important. Other aspects which contribute to its success?
[Message #9 01:18:13 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
That's true. So, if new words are put in the dictionary because everyone's using it, can a word be taken out if it's not used in, say, 200 years?
[Message #10 01:18:18 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
Also, Mrs. Granger helped fuel the fire by fighting against it and wanting the kids to stick with the old word
[Message #11 01:18:37 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
That's a good pt
[Message #12 01:19:00 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
I keep sending my messages too late and they don't make sense!
[Message #13 01:19:14 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
RE: #9: Words tend to stay in and be labelled "obsolete."
[Message #14 01:19:30 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
[Message #15 01:19:37 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
I think the fact that Nick was already popular and the kids in his class already looked up to him helped out tremendously. We have all experienced a time when we wanted to be like the "cool kids" and we wanted to dress like them and talk like them. I think this is why so many people started to use the word in the first place.
[Message #16 01:19:44 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
Ann -- don't worry about the timing, since everything will be archived and we can read it again later!
[Message #17 01:19:54 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
It success was also to spite Mrs. Granger, I think that was a major drving force to getting the word to stick
[Message #18 01:20:48 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
Also, capitalism played a part because the businessman got in on the fad
[Message #19 01:21:29 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
I agree with Sarah, Nick did have the reputation as being the clever kid who came up with the good ideas, I think knowing that he was behind it made it popular, but for Nick that wasn't necessarily a good thing because it began to consume his life.
[Message #20 01:21:57 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
Yes, I thought it was really sad the way he changed
[Message #21 01:22:43 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
Also, when kids are at that certain age, say 5th graders, they think they know everything. They think that the only rules that make sense are the rules they make up. When I was in 5th grade, my friends and I had a club, and we had these ridiculous rules that seemes so justifiable then, but when I look back, I just think, that was silly. I think this is how Nick would feel if he looked back. It was this huge deal and huge battle, but it was just a little word. It all seems kind of ridiculous how things can be blown out of proportion.
[Message #22 01:22:50 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
But he went back, like with the lunch food thing. I like the fact that Nick set up a scholarship fund for Mrs Granger, because she was really the reason frindle succeeded as a word. Without her, there would be no money.
[Message #23 01:24:12 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
I really liked the way her part in it was so subtle. I was really mad at her at first and thought the whole thing was ridiculous
[Message #24 01:25:12 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
I agree with Carla. If he hadn't have fought against it, it wouldn't have had a chance to win. There would have been no detentions, and no story in the newspaper. The word would have been a phase, and nobody else except the members of that community would have ever known about it. Mrs. Granger was a key element in ensuring the word survived. I especially liked how she sacrficed being the "antagonist" just so the word could have a chance.
[Message #25 01:25:29 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
Usually little kid's books are predictable. But I couldn't figure out what she was doing with that letter that she had him sign. But it makes sense after I read it.
[Message #26 01:26:15 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
I agree with all your statements about Mrs. Grander,
(sorry this next statment is really delayed!)
I also think that in a way the word "frindle" lost its appeal after awhile, sort of taking away the genius of it, it became a part of popular culture. Kind of the idea that now since everyone used to word without thinking about its significance just made it another word.
[Message #27 01:26:27 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
Someone -- Ann, perhaps? -- mentioned the role of capitalism in the word's success. What about the role of the media?
[Message #28 01:27:04 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
RE: #26: It almost went in waves -- in favor/vogue, then out of favor.
[Message #29 01:27:39 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
Oh yes. If the newspaper reporter hadn't taken the view that she did (the kids side) the community would not have reacted the way they did.
[Message #30 01:28:01 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
When all of the kids got detention, that is how the reporter found out about the whole thing and wanted to do a story on it. Everything just blossomed from there. If the article wouldn't have been written, the TV station wouldn't have heard about it, and more than likely, nothing would come of it.
[Message #31 01:28:26 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
The media took this story and ran with it. I am sure the success of frindle was much due to the fact that Nick was seen as the innocent child with a new inventive idea, kids, parents, and I am sure other teachers sympathized with him and his mission and chose to particpate as well.
[Message #32 01:30:09 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
I loved the way his mom reacted and the way his dad just kind of went along with her even though he didn't really seem to agree at first. It made me think about times when I tell my kids no for no good reason. I thought about how I should think about their requests and ideas a little more before I shoot them down.
[Message #33 01:31:12 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
OK, not to change subjects, but I just thought of something. Talking about the staticness (?) of a language makes me think of french. The Canadian and Belgium french change with the times and they use new words and phrases, usually from english, but France is doing everything possible to keep its french 'pure' and 'unchanged'. To me, this doesn't make sense. All language comes from change. I don't think there's such a thing as 'purity of language'.
[Message #34 01:32:14 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
I think another important character was Mr. Lawrence. Nick was too young and he had no idea you would have to get a patent on a word like that. And even if he did, his dad wouldn't have gone along with it unless his mom thought it was a good idea, because he just wanted to lead a simple life, and put the whole thing behind him. At first I thought Mr. Lawrence would be a bad guy. But as it turns out, he actually really did the Allen's a favor, because they didn't have to deal with it, but they still made a very good profit of it it. And they let Mr. Lawrence enjoy being the business tycoon that he already was in the small town.
[Message #35 01:32:19 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
I don't either, especially if you have kids running around with frindles
[Message #36 01:32:43 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
**** As a final posting for this portion of our conversation, take a look over the conversation postings, and decide on two themes you see present in _Frindle_. In your posting, identify the two themes and include an example for each one.
[Message #37 01:37:09 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
1. Changes in languages are a result of popular usage of a word
2. Media and popular culture have a tendancy to make something so main stream that it loses its value and what is was created for. But, there is still a purpose to most (for lack of a better term) "revolutions" and that is what will remain in the end after the media luster has disappeared (i.e. the word being adopted to the dictionary because the word was what Nick wanted it to be)
[Message #38 01:37:30 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
Theme one could be that we are the master of words, and they exist simply because we use them. An example of this could be, of course, 'frindle' which did not exist until the kids started using it. Another theme is that there has to be a driving force behind a "non" word to be able to get it to become a word. In this instance, it was Mrs. Granger, capitalism, and the media.
[Message #39 01:38:08 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
The outcome of any event is directly influenced by people's reactions to that event. Mrs. Granger, the kids, the parents, the media, the community all played a determining part in whether or not 'frindle' would become a word.
[Message #40 01:38:33 PM, Thursday, February 05, 2004]
I think one of the main themes is you have to understand that teachers are not always as evil as they seem. Mrs. Granger seemed like a bad person in this book because she was trying to stop the kids from using their new word. It reminds me of one of my teachers, Mr. Etchison. I hated him in junior high because he was so strict and made us go over the same things time and time again. But to this day, thanks to him, I still remember a ton of his crazy saying such as "Mansa Musa was the greatest ruler of Mali", and ALL of the prepositions, in alphabetical order!! So even though it seems like teachers are always the bad guy, sometimes, it's the worst ones that make the biggest difference in our lives.
I also think another important theme is the fact that words do exist because we use them. They don't exist because a long time ago, someone wrote them down in the dictionary. There are a lot of words that are not a part of our culture anymore...so they are obsolete.