To recap, it’s just semantics. It’s most likely that something that was not yet a chicken laid an egg that became a chicken (mutation/evolution). So the egg came first. And there were other eggs before that. There’s still a question of whether a chicken egg is an egg that becomes a chicken or an egg that is laid by a chicken, which might add layers, but it’s fair to say that none of this makes any difference to anything.
Wordplay for the sake of wordplay.
And despite being someone who makes a hobby out of the craft of playing with words, I have little time for it.
It’s pointless to waste time on arguments that don’t change anything, that don’t make a difference.
But we’ve said this already. Perhaps it’s time for a different strand.
Why am I so dismissive of semantics? Surely language is pretty damn important. Our world is largely built out of words. We understand it in terms of the shape that we have projected onto it with words. That is a chimney, that is a door, outside I can hear chickens (can’t hear any eggs, though).
So surely semantics, the way that we define things, is incredibly important. That’s what civilisation is built on, right? Without shared meanings, well defined, we couldn’t communicate and we wouldn’t be able to live together.
The formless void of quantum energy that coruscates around us is given shape by the words we used to define it.
Communication is key to society. Clear communication means having to have well defined words.
I actually don’t think so. For a start, most communication is non-verbal, and for a second, stricter words just improve the control of words over reality, and over people.
There’s something inherently elitist and silencing about semantic debate. It’s a way of shutting people up and telling them what is right.
And that is bullshit.
In truth, words are spongy and pliable and multifarious. Words are more toys than tools, and you’ll find your ideas can be communicated in much simpler terms if you stop being so rigid.
Spend a day using words wrong. Making up new words and breaking the rules as you speak. Fuck grammar. Talk like Yoda if you like, or just be less precise.
People will follow you. People will understand.
The chicken is the egg and the egg is the chicken. Nothing comes first.
And that’s a truth, too. Neither can come first because they are the same thing. There’s no need to separate. An egg is a chicken. (Except most of the time, an egg is just a menstrual emission, and so it isn’t).
Words hide things, oftentimes. Spend too much time debating the differences between your words and you may realise you’ve ignored the world that lies underneath them.
Don’t debate what doesn’t need debating. Look out at the world and see what you see.
It’s much more exciting that way.
Illustration by Rosie.