Saturday, July 08, 2006

Talent: Insult or Compliment?

Sometimes I say someone is a talented artist. I use the word to mean that the person has accomplished something excellent. They may be a talented singer or artist or writer.

But, when I look talent up in the dictionary, I find that it means:

1)A marked innate ability, as for artistic accomplishment.

2)Natural endowment or ability of a superior quality. A person or group of people having such ability.

It sounds to me that if I say someone is talented, I may be unintentionally dissing all the work they have put into whatever it is they do well. I certainly don't mean this and do not discount all the work someone puts into learning their craft well. In most cases if a person is a good writer or a good painter or a good singer...they have put a lot of work and effort into their art. They practice. They do it every day. They may take classes or work independently to improve.

I am not sure if there is such a thing as innate ability. There may be. But I think when I use the word talent, I am inadvertently ignoring all the work that artist has put into their art, music, writing. I am leaving out the accomplishement of the artist.

I think I need to find another word that acknowledges the accomplishment aspect and minimizes the innate or natural aspect.

3 Comments:

Blogger Rrramone said...

You raise great questions! :-)

7:17 PM  
Blogger rod said...

Good questions...it makes me wonder about statements like: "You are so gifted," or "you really have a gift for _____". That, too, somewhat minimizes the effort. You've set me to wondering...

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Debi said...

Mmmm..... I think of "talent" as a positive!

Natural talent can be enhanced by education,practice, hard work...!

I see/use the comment "you are so talented!"... and my mind goes to the fact that everyone has a talent... but this person has really honed in on theirs, and worked to accomplish much!!! It is a compliment in my mind... :O) !

6:19 PM  

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