A couple of words collided for me the other day. The first was conversation, which Ciaran wrote about recently, arguing eloquently that the word is being horribly misused by marketers. The second was controversy, which has, for a long time, been discussed (and implemented) all over the place as, in part, a means to generate buzz.
I studied a painstaking Latin module at uni and have never quite got rid of the need to break words down to be able to fully understand them. A form of versus appears in both conVERSation and controVERSy. Versus has several meanings, but the root comes from the Latin ’to turn’. Now let’s take this with the ’con’ of conversation and the ’contro’ of controversy. Basically, con means ’with’ and contra means ’against’ So there we have it: conversation means ’to turn with’ and controversy means ’to turn against’.
I find it very interesting how these two words mean such different things in everyday use and yet how close they are etymologically. It’s difficult to have one without the other, particularly in a medium such as ours where so much relies on the communication of ideas. It’s all about the push and pull of engagement.
But of what earthly interest is this to all you marketers out there? What about a word that’s even closer to your hearts? Conversions. A word that is essentially made up of the same stuff as conversations and controversy. Turn with and against those you interact with and you’re one step closer to converting them.