Practice Group Report
At this month's practice group our topic was 'Prepositions' and once we had welcomed newcomers Sara and Rob, we started with a page of 'Dingbats' to decipher, shown right (answers below). As they all involve prepositions, this got us into the topic and we talked briefly about what prepositions are and why we, as Clean Language facilitators, might be interested in them...
A preposition is a word that shows the relationship between a noun and the rest of a sentence. The word preposition literally means 'in front of' and generally speaking, a preposition comes in front of the noun to which it refers. Examples of simple prepositions are:
- he went up the hill
- darkest before the dawn
- she had a glass of wine with her friend
There are also complex prepositions, consisting of two or three words, such as:
- a preposition comes in front of a noun
- she did it out of kindness
- we had a great time except for the weather
We are interested in prepositions because:
(a) they are often used metaphorically, and because they are often small words, their metaphorical nature can easily go unnoticed
- off colour
- against the grain
- an ear for music
- don't beat about the bush
- above board
- he had egg on his face
(b) they show relationships between things, and those relationships are often spatial, although they can be temporal (I will do that by next Tuesday) or causal (he was sacked on account of his laziness).
[They can also convey manner (I paid by cheque), accompaniment (you must go with him), support or opposition (I was against the plan), concession (she came despite her illness), possession (a bag with a purple handle) or exception (the car was a bargain apart from its rusty bonnet).]
And we are interested in spatial, temporal and causal relationships between things, because space, time and cause are fundamental and universal metaphors. Where things are in relation to one another and how they are related in time are important in being able to separate out different aspects of a landscape and so being able to model it effectively.
After the discussion, we split into groups of three: facilitator, client and observer. The observer tuned into the prepositions the client was using, making a note of them as they went along. The session was to be a normal clean coaching session, starting with the question, "What would you like to have happen?" - and with the facilitator directing the client's attention to any prepositions that may be interesting for the client to explore. Everyone had a turn in all three roles.
A few things that happened in the groups I observed:
- One client spoke of there being 'something between me and getting tasks done'. When his attention was directed to the word 'between' a whole new metaphor opened up.
- One client spoke about things being 'clear in my mind, so I can give information out'. When the word 'in' was investigated, a metaphor of a roll of film emerged.
- One client spoke about a physical problem and as the session went on, began to make a distinction between being curved over and curved up. Although in this case, the words over and up are not being used as prepositions, the client got a lot of useful information through noticing this distinction.
By focusing on prepositions, what did we discover?
- It is amazing how many there are.
- They can be critical in developing a landscape.
- It is like going down the cracks between paving stones, and can open up a landscape in different directions you didn't expect.
- It stops you making assumptions.
- Repetition of a particular preposition may indicate that there is a pattern that's worth paying attention to.
- Sometimes asking about a preposition doesn't seem to lead anywhere fruitful at all.
- If use of a preposition is accompanied by emphasis, or a particular gesture or voice tone, it's likely to be worth paying attention to it.
- Do not discount them!
It was another good meeting, slightly marred by finding the gates padlocked and assuming we were unable to get out. But we found we had a key! So it was alright after all. Thanks to everyone who came and joined in. Please do use the comments box below to give your impression of the meeting or share what you discovered.
Our next meeting is on Monday August 16th, and I hope to see you there!
- Man in the moon
- You are under arrest
- Get to the point
- Hand over fist
- Act out of character
- On the bright side
- Bags under the eyes
- Quick on the draw
Tags: practice group