Pioneers or just People Accomplishing Things?

While reading the chapter “The Adventures of the Frontier in the Twentieth Century” from Patricia Nelson Limerick’s Something in the Soul, I was not very convinced. I understood that the idea of “Frontiers” and “Pioneers” has changed quite a bit from their original meaning and that they are not always used properly. However it was not until after I had read the piece that I saw how often we use these terms. Just a quick Google News search of “Pioneer” proves this (when “Frontier” is searched, the results are mainly about an airline of the same name). I believe that the overuse of these words is only furthering the concept of American Exceptionalism. So my question to you is— by making these words part of every day life, do they lose the gravity of their meaning or do we imply that smaller discoveries are more meaningful than when the terms were coined?

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One thought on “Pioneers or just People Accomplishing Things?

  1. I did a couple Google searches of “Pioneer”, and I see what you meant in this post. Doing a regular Google search even showed that several companies have used the word “pioneer” in their name because of its overwhelmingly positive connotation. It’s at the point where I would consider the word “pioneer” practically synonymous with American Exceptionalism, or more accurately someone exceptional. Regarding the final question, I lean more towards the latter, although it might be somewhere in-between. When the term “pioneer” is used, it is still implied that the person is exceptional in whatever field he is in. In addition, many advertisements will highlight small advancements as major selling points, and the discoverer of these advancements could be seen as pioneers. While I could see how one could view this as giving the word pioneer less meaning overall, the fact that the connotation is still overwhelmingly positive and that companies can use it to help sell products, I feel we imply, perhaps inadvertently, that smaller discoveries are more meaningful than when the words were first conceived.

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