My girlfriend’s first language is Spanish. Her second is English. Kassie’s completely fluent, but like any foreign language speaker, some grammatical quirks slip into her idiolect. I picked up on one shortly after we started speaking, when she said that she was “excited to fly from México and meet the UK.”
It reminded me of a moment a few years back, when someone queried my use of ‘are’ in reference to a band, rather than ‘is’. The majority of people would follow collective nouns with ‘is’, I realized, tho in British dialects, ‘are’ was comparatively more accepted. Similarly, I’d be more inclined to say ‘[company name] have’ than ‘[company name] has’.
As small a blip on the radar of my Twitter history as this moment was, it resulted in a total mindset shift for me. Grammar is just a set of rules thrown on top of language, and language is completely malleable. I chose to stick with ‘are’ and ‘have’, because envisioning companies, bands, and other group entities as the sum of its people, not its public-facing name, is always way more exciting. And way healthier, I’d say.
It also gets you thinking about the humans behind stuff you wouldn’t usually give a second thought to. My go-to example of this is a bit twisted, but hear me out: the typeface Gill Sans. Its designer, Eric Gill, was a brilliant artist, but he was also a lil fucked up. That is to say, he sexually abused his daughters and had intercourse with his dogs. This is dark as hell, but it’s a super interesting story to pull out of your head when you see the unassuming font. The controversy Gill Sans causes in the design community surely makes for a tale to tell.
A more positive example is following the designers behind apps you use every single day — you often spy artwork or designs on your Twitter timeline before they appear with an app update. Occasionally, you’ll even see the process the artist takes in developing the work. Referring to companies, bands, and other such collectives as ‘are’ has, to me, solidified in Carbonite the ideology of peering past entity names and into the lives and portfolios of the humans making the shit I love.
Back to Kassie’s ‘meeting’ thing. I almost corrected her — she requested I highlight any ‘mistakes’ so she can perfect her English to an even higher level — but then I was like, damn, that’s actually really nice. When you travel somewhere, don’t just say you’re ‘going’ there. Say you’re ‘meeting’ the place.
Cities, islands, countries — they’re not just masses of land you set foot upon. They’re living, breathing, complex worlds full of art, music, people, architecture, history, and a boundless number of stories, all waiting for you. When you explore a new place and discover the culture, you’re not just visiting. You’re giving the place a firm handshake, a smile, and a “hello, it’s really nice to meet you.”
Like ‘Voldemort’, the names of places can often strike images of fear or pleasure into our minds. It’s pretty fucking nuts that we sometimes make sweeping statements about entire populations, casting opinions across peoples culled by their borders. Looking past the place names at the people and the politics is such a simple, vital act that’s so easy to overlook. It’s a mental step that, when skipped, can breed blind hatred. ‘Meeting’ a place via its people, whether in person or online, is an exercise in opening your mind and becoming wiser. It gives you fresh foundations for your opinions and your worldview. It can challenge your perceptions, shove you out of your comfort zone, and unlock whole new cultural realms to you.
So yeah. Get out and meet some places.