Modes of Address

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Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim

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Jul 19, 2005
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Modes of Address
The English word address can either refer to your place of residence or your email address. But If you thought you could only address a letter or a parcel you were mistaken: What’s your name and address? What’s your email address? Is that your home address? Please note my change of address. The project has a new website address. Address a meeting. I was surprised when he addressed me in English. All questions should be addressed to your teacher. Your letter doesn’t address the real issues. We must address ourselves to the problem of traffic pollution. Let’s start with the more addressable issues. Watch tonight’s televised presidential address. These are the typical examples given in an English dictionary.

Although GPS (global positioning system) and search engines like Google are relatively new, they still can find a lot. Some recently developed software can even find all your messages including your SMS texting. Your partner will now know everything you did or said i.e. wrote. In case you have managed to hide in disguise, gene technology will certainly identify you anywhere, any time. In addition, laser technology whether in medicine or in weapons, can take aim most precisely.

Addressing is based on organization. Just imagine you take the motorway to your destination but there are no signs. Your text whether written or spoken is not signposted i.e. filled with words which show sequence or transition like: First, second, third and furthermore. If you make a presentation without signposting it, your audience is lost. But the more people we have on the planet Earth the more we are addressable. You might think the crime rate has to decrease with the rise of high rise flats. The invention of numbers was after all not only for calculation but organization.

The calendar and the clock can identify the hour, day, week, month, year, decade, century or millennium. Questions like “Who are you? What are you? Where are you now? Where are you from? Or even those like: What size do you take? What are your free time interests?” aim at pigeonholing or localizing you like the GPS. When applying for a new job, give your name, date and place of birth, place of residence, marital status, business address, home address i.e. physical address. You could pay your addresses to anybody.

Whatever it means the honorific address takes aim at you. Finding out your whereabouts to target more precisely than ever, is a children’s game in our global village. Almost everything which has a name, a code, an identity is targetable. People and places have names and numbers. Houses have numbers, streets have names, cities and countries have names and code numbers, a unique identifying number or a unique resource locater (URL). It must be unique with its location mark. It is a router, a switchboard connecting computers internally and externally either through a small home network called WLAN (wide local area network) or globally called internet. Living creatures including identical twins are said to be unique among billions.

The English preposition at does the rest. It takes aim because it is a point. But taking aim is aggressive in its nature. The commercial at or the spider monkey targets you online. Little wonder almost all aggressive verbs go with at or at least show this aggression:
Shout at vs. shout to
Drive at vs. drive to
Throw at vs. throw to
Point at vs. point to
Speak at vs. speak to

Although you can locate me nearly anywhere I feel I am lost. I find it difficult to find a place unique because wherever I go it looks the same. In every city I find the same shops, restaurants, coffee shops and hear the same muzak. Can cloning put an end to addressing and targeting?

5 February 2008
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