During my forty years in nursing, I’ve battled big words.
First there was equipment, like sphygmomanometer. Then there were diseases: idiopathic cytopenic purpura comes to mind. Followed by the gobbledygook of pharmacology. “This medication is a dihydropyridine calcium antagonist that inhibits the transmembrane influx of calcium ions.”
Being from a bilingual state (Louisiana) and now living in a bilingual country (Canada), I can even read nursing articles in both English and French.
But for the past few years, a new term in nursing journals has confounded me. I can’t pronounce it. When I see it my eye glides over it. My brain has taken to referring to it as, “The HP Factor,” after the popular British vinegar, fruit, and spice condiment.
The term is
Take a minute to study those words. Try to pronounce them. The best of British luck to you.
A couple of weeks ago I came to an article where understanding those words was essential to understanding the article. I resolved, finally, to find out what they meant.
I spent a morning Googling my way through Greek myth, philosophy, the dialectic between the critical and the romantic, text as the artifact of lived experience, interpretative dialog, re-constructionist criticism, ontology versus epistemology, phenomena versus noumena, and Edmond Husserl’s Zu den Sachen, which I learned means, more or less, “Let's get down to what matters!”
Fortunately, I’d packed a lunch and remembered to tie the end of a ball of string to my desk chair before I set out, so I was able to find my way back to my office.
It turned out that hermeneutic phenomenology means that lived experiences are meaningful in themselves, but in order to communicate both what happened, and what meaning the experience had, the person who lived through something has to be able to convert the experience into descriptive language.
As writers, we call this, “Write what you know.”
I’m so glad to have that out of the way. Now I can start my holidays with peace of mind.
I wish everyone the best of the season.