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Defining Terms

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 3, 2013 in Personal |

Have you ever thought about some of the terms we use in our daily lives? Some of the words we use to make things easier, but lumping vast provinces together into one thing and assuming that everyone else is in the know? Of course there are certain terms which we all appreciate and accept, but some which can be open to interpretation and misunderstanding.

One such term I came across recently, visiting a web site which specializes in putting bloggers together to enable guest blogging and publishing, is the term Guest Writer or Guest Blogger. This, for all of us, is clearly a person who writes something for a blog or a web site which they do not run. They are either invited or make a submission and both sides hope for the best. What isn’t said, but widely assumed, is that a guest blogging for someone else gives them an exclusive and original piece of work to publish. The original is easy enough to understand; few wish to publish something which is simply an old blog post or article pushed out to gain a back link from another site and increase ratings and rank. And exclusive? Well, if it is original, shouldn’t it also be an exclusive offering for the site publishing it? Should it be duplicated on another site or, worse still, on several other sites? That’s certainly not the way that I understand it. You write for someone and the article appears on their site, and their site alone.

With content sites, designed to spread an article and gain revenue through advertising as well as back references, it is a different matter. Here you are offering an article which is designed to be taken by others, which is meant to find a broad audience through a variety of different sites. Several of my articles have appeared across the Internet as such – one without my name attached, sadly enough, but that disappeared quite quickly! – and they have given a broad selection of readers the information I wished to pass on.

What about the simple term Adult? What is an adult topic?

For some an adult topic is something exclusively concerned with sex, with words and images which shouldn’t be paraded before minors until they reach a certain age. For others, the term adult also covers such things as breast-feeding, birth control, disease, violent video games and some films. You could pull fetish in there too, although a fetish can just as easily be a hobby someone concentrates all their attention on above all else, and quite clean, or an icon of some form. It doesn’t have to be someone who enjoys wearing latex or a gas mask whilst performing sex acts with other consenting adults.

Another term which seems to be easy to misinterpret is vegetarian. This may come as something of a surprise, but there is a great deal of misunderstanding about what a vegetarian eats, what a vegan eats and what they wish to avoid. I’ve already mentioned in another post, or perhaps it was on Twitter, how I was offered ham and turkey rolls what I asked for a meatless breakfast. And there are so many different types of vegetarian, some who eat poultry or fish, for example, that it is often hard to understand exactly what is meant. Even when you tell them you’re an ovo-lacto (eggs and milk) vegetarian, the foreign words throw them.

What happens, though, when you come across a professional magazine, as I did this week, and it proclaims on the cover that it is for vegetarians?

Personally I would expect those who run such publications, which specialize in food, recipes and the like, to have a little better understanding of what they have to offer and what fits in with the term and what doesn’t. So I take a chance and buy the magazine without checking the contents first – standing in the queue to pay at the supermarket is not the right place to start thumbing through! The cover says, in headline-sized print, Vegetarish genießen. There is nothing on the front cover which suggests anything else.

It’s different when you get back home and want to seek out a good recipe for the weekend. Open the magazine to the contents page where there are five photographs, two of which don’t quite fit in with the ideals of a vegetarian: muffins wrapped in bacon in one and a Sunday roast in another. I know that bacon is about as American as some people are prepared to go, but vegetarian?

So we have a little look further. The first recipe has pork in it. Amongst the ten recipes for pancakes two have ham, one has salmon, one has chicken. I’m only on page twelve. Even the foreword from the editor – Gaby Höger – talks about vegetarian food and forgets to mention all the dead animals in the other recipes; perhaps she’s trying to convert us or, more likely, fool herself. I guess the idea of vegetarian, perhaps the word itself, is a little bit too confusing. What is worse, none of the vegetarian recipes are in any way original, which fits in neatly with the guest blogging idea and exclusivity.

I appreciate that it is difficult to bring a magazine out with nothing but new recipes, just as it is hard to always find new topics to write about, new ways to get around generalized subject headers. But there ought to be at least a little bit of an effort made, just a little bit.

For the guest blogging that I plan on doing and for the definitions of what is adult and what is safe, I’m responsible, and that is just the way it should be. I’m also responsible for wasting €2,90 on a ‘vegetarian’ issue of a cooking magazine. If I had a pet bird it would now line the cage, instead it is waiting for the collection of used, recyclable paper in a few days time.

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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