Diplomacy Before E :: Eternal E Space

My abridged edition of Sam Johnson’s Dictionary, published in 1755 as one of the earliest efforts to compile a comprehensive English dictionary,  does not list “Diplomacy”.

“Diploma” appears where Diplomacy might have perched, on the page that starts with “didder” — to quake with cold; to shiver; a provincial word. — and ends with “disadventurous” — unhappy; unprosperous.  “Diploma,” Samuel Johnson states,  is a letter or writing conferring come privilege, so called because they used formerly to be written on waxed tables, and folded together.

No word for “blog” either, but “to blabber” means whistle to a horse.  Try blabbering for a taxi on a crowded wet urban street.

Hachette explains that “diplomacy” means “diplomatie” a feminine noun in French, where the codified practice of acting diplomatically is said to have originated.  One suspects diplomacy long predates European recorded history.

E-anything has come to mean an activity in an electronic environment, but “electronic” seems an antiquated word for the digital environment.

Do we communicate in an E space, if E stands for ether, everything, existential, ephemeral, esoteric, eternal, entropy, expanding, energy, endemic?

Where does the practice of “diplomacy” – defined by Penguin English Dictionary as the management of international relations; tactful skill in dealing with other people – mesh with etiquette  and ethics in everyday life?

Further Reading:

Freeman Dyson reflects on the eternity of digital worlds in the Page-Barbour Lectures given at the University of Virginia in March, 2004. Thomas Page was a diplomat and writer and the lectures were originally funded in 1907 by Thomas Page’s spouse, a Barbour family member.

Dyson, Freeman J. A Many-Colored Glass: Reflections on the Place of Life in the Universe. Charlottesville:Univ of Virginia Press, 2007.


Corréard, Marie-Hélène and Valerie Grundy. The Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary. New York: Oxford Univ Press, 1994.

Garmonsway, G.N with Jacqueline Simpson. The Penguin English Dictionary. Middlesex: Penguin Books Ltd. 1965.

McAdam, E. L. Jr. and George Milne. Johnson’s Dictionary A Modern Selection. New York: Pantheon Books. 1963


One response to “Diplomacy Before E :: Eternal E Space

  1. I love the idea of the “E Space” – it seems to imply that eDiplomacy is something that occurs outside the traditional boundaries of diplomacy. Having never thought of this as a spatial construct before, I’m grateful for the way you’ve broadened these ideas through historical definitions. Great first post: I look forward to reading more!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s