I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes to the Molehills

I was impelled, even compelled, to look up the definition of “industry” by a casual website reference to the “hearing hygiene industry.” (I believe they meant “hearing-hygiene industry” but let’s let that go, shall we? Not every hill can be one to die for. [However, it does seem to me we’re getting a series of — if not mountains — then at least low ridges here. Like, they’re not just molehills.]) Anyway. Back to the definition.

Industry: noun

1a : manufacturing activity as a whole // the nation’s industry
: a distinct group of productive or profit-making enterprises // the banking industry
: a department or branch of a craft, art, business, or manufacture especially : one that employs a large personnel and capital especially in manufacturing
: systematic labor especially for some useful purpose or the creation of something of value

2 : diligence in an employment or pursuit especially : steady or habitual effort

3 : work devoted to the study of a particular subject or author // the Shakespeare industry

With the scope afforded by this definition (and specifically per 1.b), I see no reason to deny the “industry” appellation to those engaged for profit in hearing hygiene. I’m sure they’ll be relieved to have this approval from someone who engages with industry (per 2) in the writing and editing industry (per 1.d).

I admit that I had never considered or, ironically, even heard of hearing hygiene. “Ear hygiene” I understand and like to think I practice, although not in any capital-intensive way (per 1.c). In summary (“At last,” you sigh.), I do not consider myself as being part of any putative ear-hygiene industry.

But having skirted this initial tripping hazard, I bumped into a larger obstacle.

ear-wax removal market

Again with the missing hyphen: Is there an overarching “removal market” with sub-markets? Imagine the range of services to be found in this category: removing scars from skin, pet stains from carpet, trash from basements, rude neighbours from communities, unhappy memories from psyches, pounds from hips. No, I believe they meant ear-wax-removal market, to wit: A market for tools (or services) that remove ear wax.

Now, with my industry (per 2) in ear hygiene and through the luck of the genetic draw, I myself have never been in the market for ear-wax-removal tools or services. (Well, except on behalf of a purebred terrier who shared my life for several years and who, regrettably, was not as industrious as I in this respect. Or any respect, frankly, save maniacally digging holes to get out the yard.)

Anyway. Given how I go on about it you might be surprised to know that what surprises me is not the cavalier attitude toward hyphens shown by these references — hearing hygiene industry, ear-wax removal market — but, rather, the human ability to make a big deal out of not so much. There’s a whole field of psychological studies here, I’m sure: the mountains-out-of-molehills industry (per 3).

I wonder where we can find our first subject?

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2 Responses to I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes to the Molehills

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    I think you may have missed your calling. Instead of trying to make language clear and comprehensible, you could have been devising insurance contracts that had a sub-clause to counter every other sub-clause.
    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – At one time I harboured ambitions of writing an RFP that could not be responded to: riddled with internal contradictions, endless cross-reference loops, that sort of thing. Given what folks achieve when they’re trying to be clear, I fear it would be too easy.

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