What's in a Word | All Blogs


Those who show the way

By Debra Dobbins

Hmm ...  If Nelson repeats Grampa's final comment to his grandmother, Opal, Grampa may end up on the couch again. (See yesterday's "Pickles.")

“Avant-garde” is defined by Webster's as “the leaders in new or unconventional movements, esp. in the arts; vanguard.”

Wikipedia defines the phrase as “a pushing of the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm or the status quo, primarily in the cultural realm.” As examples, painter Pablo Picasso, composer Igor Stravinsky and architect Frank Lloyd Wright are all considered among the avant-garde in their respective fields.

Both “avant-garde” and “vanguard” come the French phrase å vän gård, which literally meant “before guard.” It referred to the part of an army that went before the main army.

Right below “avant-garde” in Webster's is the phrase avant la lettre. In French it literally means “before the letter.” Figuratively it means “before the (specified) concept, words, person, etc. exist,” according to Webster's. For instance, Wiktionary notes that mid-Victorian women who were suffragettes could be considered avant le lettre. “Suffragettes were feminists before the word 'feminist' existed.”

"A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way."

John C. Maxwell, American pastor, author, speaker
Source: Brainyquote.com

1954 portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright by Al Ravenna
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Illustration special to the Sentinel

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