EVPs and Talking with the Dead:
Use free Internet sites to become a better communicator.
By Elizabeth Eagan-Cox, exclusive to Scott Wise at GGPI.
As excerpted and revised by Elizabeth Eagan-Cox from her book: Ghost Hunters Research Guide to Free Internet Sources. Copyright 2011. Charles River Press. All Rights Reserved, including voice, print, Internet, social media and all forms of public/private display (including non-profit) copying, sharing, reposting . . . is illegal. Contact Elizabeth Eagan-Cox for permission.
In regard to EVPs, I advise that you never offer a Kleenex facial tissue to a ghost . . . until you have vetted the vocabulary of the ghost’s time and era. Here’s why: In ghost investigation television shows, I’ve noticed that some ghost hunters are credible in their investigations, others, not so much, especially in attempts to communicate with a ghost during an EVP session.
In one such ghost investigation show, which will remain nameless, the ‘star’ ghost hunter entered an old barn in hope of recording an EVP. The ghost in question was a criminal from the 1880s and was reported to be a man of mean and angry temperament. In an effort to antagonize the ghost into a reaction, the ghost hunter shouted out a string of insults and then ridiculed the ghost by offering him a Kleenex to wipe away his tears.
What’s wrong with this picture? KLEENEX is a brand name of facial tissue and was not invented until the 1920s. Kleenex is an unknown word and product to everyone who lived in the 1880s. As a common term used to describe the product of facial tissue, the brand name KLEENEX is also a proprietary eponym.
Do not use eponyms when attempting to communicate with a ghost; unless you can verify the brand name and the product it represents were in common use during the ghost’s lifetime. In the scenario above, the ghost hunter could have offered the ghost a handkerchief, which was the appropriate facial wipe in the 1880s.
Ghost hunters need to communicate effectively with persons who have passed on. For this reason it is wise to do your homework before going on an investigation. The free Internet sources in this article will assist you in recognizing and eliminating common mistakes in language and vocabulary communication, including Eponyms, Etymology (word origins and history), and Trends in Vocabulary.
You may not be aware you use eponyms and you may not know when an eponym came into common use. To communicate effectively with ghosts, you must use vocabulary that is derived from a frame of reference of when the person was alive. Learning which eponyms can be used in ghost communication is an empowering tool for ghost hunters.
Source: Dr. Goodword’s Office, Alpha Dictionary of Eponyms, (AlphaDictionary.com)
The front page has a brief description defining what an Eponym is, and is not. Scroll half way down the front page to access an A-to-Z listing of eponyms that explain the eponym and its origin.
Source: Fun with Words, (RinkWorks.com)
The opening page lists the most widely used proprietary eponyms, in two categories: Active Trademarks Often Used Generically, and Defunct Trademarks Used Generically.
Tip: Brand name eponyms are common in today’s language habits. Chances are you use them and are not aware of doing so. It is imperative that as a ghost hunter you become aware of your use of brand names and their possible irrelevant frame of reference in conducting an EVP session.
Take Action. If you discover you are using an eponym, the next step is to know the history of the eponym, its origin and timeline. My first suggestion is to go to the Online Etymology Dictionary, listed below in the next section. Or, bring up your favorite Internet Search Engine (mine is GOOGLE) and type in the eponym and a query such as: “Kleenex, origin, history.” Look for a result that is authentic to the product, with Kleenex the result should have a reference to the manufacturer: Kimberly-Clark.
Etymology, Word Origins and History
The phrases and expressions you use today may not make sense to the ghost you are investigating. For example, the description “hell-bent” has been in common usage since 1731 when the author Ebenezer Cooke coined the term. Yet, the adjective: “cotton-picking”
(Or cotton-pickin’) was not introduced until 1952, in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Ask people today about “cotton-picking” and chances are you’ll be told it stems from the culture of the cotton plantations in the Confederate states, during the Civil War of the 1860s. The difference between Bugs Bunny’s use and a reference to the old South in the Civil War time frame is the difference between using the phrase as a verb or an adjective . . . and the era’s meaning for when the term was used. Researching a word or phrase origin and timeline is accessed via the study of etymology.
Source: Online Etymology Dictionary (Etymonline.com)
From the opening page, the search box is front and center. Simply type in the word you want the history of.
Trends in Vocabulary
What the applesauce! Today, some people would substitute “applesauce” for a word that I’ll describe as F#*! However, in the slang of the 1920s, “applesauce” was used as I did in the aforementioned sentence; “applesauce” was an expletive. Good communicators learn about vocabulary trends and keep a sharp eye and keen ear alert to the use of slang and colloquial vocabulary. The Internet sites listed below are self-help sources to keep you informed.
Source: Dr. Goodword’s Office, Alpha Dictionary of Slang, (AlphaDictionary.com)
The front page is where you want to be, it is The Historical Dictionary of American Slang. The directions are brief, use them to look up a slang word or phrase.
Source: Celtic Fringe (Celtic Fringe.html)
Celtic Fringe is a page on the personal site of historical reenactor, Eric Ferguson. On the opening page there’s a short list of topics. Choose, Early 19th Century Vocabulary for common phrases/words from the colonial period of 1830 taken from actual writing of that era. The importance of this time period is that it is in what historians call the colonial period. The language changed extremely gradually between the late 1600s and the early 1800s. A time in America when the dialects of England and the Celtic cultures were prominent. Pay attention to words that could be misinterpreted in EVPs. In listening to EVPs, you may hear a word entirely different from what was said. This is a familiar situation, because we listen to words and interpret them in accordance to our own vocabulary frame of reference. Thus, an EVP phrase such as “for aught” might be heard as “for out.” Literally translated, “for aught” is “for anything.” Interpreting an EVP can be misleading if a ghost hunter does not consider all the twists and turns language has taken throughout history.
Source: Idioms at the Free Dictionary (FreeDictionary.com)
Type in an idiom/slang word or phrase and click. Often the results are extensive, so, remember to scan for the definition that gives a time frame of use. Tip: Look for the word “Colloquial” followed by a date/era.
Author’s Bio: Elizabeth Eagan-Cox has had two careers: First as a public School Librarian whose background was reference, resource materials and computer programming. Second as a professional writer, journalist and author. She’s written corporate histories for world-wide companies, was a weekly columnist for Radio Digest and then she switched to novels and one reference book, from which this article was excerpted and revised: “Ghost Hunters Research Guide to Free Internet Sources.” She recently tossed out her ink and is now enjoying life doing something she once did lifetimes ago, she is sculpting art doll vignettes. Visit her on her blog: www.UniqueSculptedDolls.blogspot.com.