Caveat laudatur

Thursday 26 July 2012, 4.29am HKT

I PROMISED SOMEBODY to explain why I’m not a happy bunny with something.

A couple of days ago, I put this status up on my Facebook:—

The next time any of you call me a ‘walking dictionary’ or a ‘mentor’ or some shite like that, you’re gonna end up getting unfriended.


I get called The Walking Dictionary and mentor a lot of times. I get called teacher a lot of times too by young ones.

Everybody likes to be praised. It’s like being Freshly Pressed on WordPress. It feels good because the thing said or done is now considered by others to be The Right Thing (however each of us might define ‘right thing’).


Truth be told, The Walking Dictionary nickname riles me inside (albeit in a quiet sort of way). One of my friends wondered, isn’t that a compliment — to be considered by others to have an encyclopoedic mind?

It’s hard to explain. It seems like that. But there’s something fishy about a nickname like The Walking Dictionary. Doesn’t smell like a compliment to me.

If you’re ever nicknamed like that, it’s pretty much saying you’re just another outlet spewing out fixed things with fixed meanings. A dictionary gives fixed word meanings, often several for even a single word. Ergo, you regurgitate fixed stuff.

Personally, I don’t buy into fixed meanings for anything. Your mileage may vary, but my past experiences tell me many things (even word meanings) are not fixed.


‘Mentor’ gives me the heebee-jeebees.

I’d rather share what I see or know in the best way I know how. If anyone finds it useful for their purposes, so much the better and I’m more than happy. If not, that’s fine with me too.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines mentor as:—

“allusively, one who fulfils the office which the supposed Mentor fulfilled towards Telemachus. Hence, as a common noun: An experienced and trusted adviser.”

(Telemachus, the dishy young guy on the left in the picture, was some dude in The Odyssey — the one by Homer, not the other one about space by Stanley Kubrick.)

The concept of mentoring is a big deal in American institutional life. After all, the Yanks took their philosophical heroism from the Greeks; the Brits from the Romans. And because mentoring is big in America, it’s also taking hold in many other countries round the world.

I don’t want to be a mentor mentoring some mentee (i.e. protégé). I have nothing to teach or advise. Frankly, I’m mostly a mug about many things. Also, the Romans trounced and conquered the Greeks in 146 BC at the Battle of Corinth, so there.


Related to ‘mentor’ is to be called or considered a ‘teacher.’

This one scares me. How anyone could possibly see me remotely resembling a teacher baffles me.

Indeed, teachers mostly despise people like me. I find most teachers are walking dictionaries themselves anyway, and many people are so resistant to being taught (even the wrong things) that I can’t see being thought of as a teacher a compliment.


You know caveat emptor (buyer beware) and caveat venditor (seller beware) already.

Caveat laudatur. Cave laudes.

The praised beware. Beware praises.



© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012 (B12228).

Images: Books in Shakespeare & Company Bookstore in the Latin Quarter of Paris, photo by Ian Britton via | Telemachus and Mentor via

5 Responses to “Caveat laudatur”

  1. Ed Hurst said

    It’s just possible I’m almost paying attention, because I never would have thought to use such terms for you. I rather think anyone who actually read your posts here, at least, would know better. I think of you more as an intellectual connoisseur, if we understand connoisseurs as people fussy enough about something or other to offer an opinion. In other words, seeker beware.


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