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Monday, 2 July 2012

Spot the frippet: symposium.

 As anyone who knows anything about words might guess, a symposium is an opportunity for people to get together and, well, pose.

Of course the real point of a symposium is to assemble a lot of experts in one place so they can solve the problems of the day.

There'll usually be a photograph involved.

And goodness knows we have enough problems, whether it's a need for a form of portable milk packaging which doesn't always spill itself down your crotch; or discovering why weeds are invisible until they're too big to remove without the chemical resources of one of the major economies and an excavator; or, indeed, the many problems of shoelaces; all these and many other difficulties can be addressed by a good symposium.

You may be asking how a symposium can be spotted by those of us who live far away from the intellectual cut-and-thrust, but, really, this is where the posing comes in. All you need for a symposium are two people and a problem. Or, at a stretch, one person and a dog.

So, don't chat about last night's telly, have a symposium on the moving image. Don't copy each other's homework, have a symposium on geometry, or Shakespeare, or the formation of mountain ranges. If someone asks you where you're going, don't say down the pub or to Starbucks/the canteen, say to a symposium.

And in that case, as you'll see below, you'll actually not be posing at all.

Spot the frippet: symposium. The pos in symposium is, very sadly, not really to do with posing. The word symposium has come to us from the Greek word sumposion, from sumpinein, which means to drink together, from sum-, which means together, and pinein, which means to drink.

The word symposium is used even now to mean a drinking party, ideally with clever conversation, and perhaps music.


  1. Like the sound of the drinking party esp if we can have some of those eclairs!

    1. Let's start a superstition, Adele: let's say that the time between seeing lightning and eating an eclair is unlucky.

      Actually, there ought to be more superstitions like that!

      Why are they generally so bothersome and gloomy?


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