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16 Mar 2018

NBlog March 16 - word games

The assurance word-art tick (or boot?) that we created and blogged about a few days ago is still inspiring us. In particular, some assurance-related words hint at slightly different aspects of the same core concept:
  • Assure
  • Assurance
  • Assured
  • Assuredly
  • Ensure
  • Ensured
  • Insure
  • Insurance
  • Reassure
Along with the tongue-in-cheek terms 'man-sure' and 'lady-sure', they are all based on 'sure', being a statement of certainty and confidence.

Insure is interesting: in American English, I believe it means the same as ensure in the Queen's English (i.e. being certain of something), but in the Queen's English, insure only relates to the practice of insurance, when some third-party offers indemnity against particular risks.

Assured, ensured and insured are not merely the past tenses of the respective verbs, but have slightly different implications or meanings:
  • If someone is assured of something, they have somehow been convinced and accept it as true. They internalize and no longer question or doubt their belief to the same extent as if they were not assured of it. They rest-assured, generally as a result of a third-party providing them the assurance if they don't convince themselves;
  • Someone who ensured something made certain it was so or at least made the effort to do so (they don't always succeed!). This often means passing responsibility to a third-party who they believe will do as required;
  • In the Queen's English, a company that insured something provided the indemnity (insurance cover) to whoever had it insured. In American English, the previous bullet applies, presumably.
Reassure is different again, with connotations of comfort and relief when doubt is dispelled.

The point of this ramble (finally!) is that there are some interesting subtleties to assurance that we can use in the awareness and training materials to get people thinking about it and maybe re-evaluating their own beliefs. The words aren't the intriguing bit so much as the concept, but the jumble of words is a way to get the brain cells in gear.

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