Words: We Live By Them

Posted on February 23, 2012. Filed under: language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

It is spoken and written languages (at least those we humans can understand) that puts us in a group apart from other life forms on this planet.  They enable us to communicate every nuance of our lives — every mood, emotion, urge, musing, hurt, injustice…   you get the idea.  An abundance of social websites confirms this need to share the most trivial incidents in the human experience.  It is this apparent need that impels us to create better and faster devices to speed the process (e.g., those marvelous texting machines that allow drivers to text, tweet and LOL their way blithely to the very next convenient accident site up the road).  Wakes, funerals, and viewings are other social forums for connecting with each other — at least for the survivors.

All to often, the communicator fails to communicate as intended.  In a language filled with double-entendres, there is ample opportunity to “step into something” while strolling happily through the verdant fields of modern communication; ask any politician who has spoken to one audience unaware that another audience was listening (and, if not an audience, a blabber-mouth “journalist” who can’t wait to be the first one to spread the gaff.  They call that a “scoop” don’t they?  Sounds apt, like a tool you carry while following your pet yapper in the park.) Words misused (or, unfortunately highlighted by a contrasting situation) provide a vast amount of targets upon which hunters of mangled-verbage can place their sights.

Unfortunately (for my ego), there are times I look up a word to confirm my superior knowledge only to discover the writer/user was…  (gasp)…   correct (Here, insert much growling and gnashing of teeth.)  Grudgingly, I add this knowledge to my own, but not without hidden grievances.  After all, there had to be good reasons for me to get it wrong.  It’s not my fault!

Crosswords puzzles are a good source of vocabulary enrichment.  On the down side, they can be a source of double aggravation:  (1) you can learn that you have misunderstood and misused certain words all your life, and, (2) there is no way the word they want matches the clue they’ve given.  Both of those are sore points with me.

Words reflect the boundaries of our personal existences.  What others (including Miriam-Webster, et al) think a word means is of no consequence to what you heard.  If the speaker referred to someone as a “thespian” and you heard “lesbian,” your concept of the individual is set in your mind, and, it is that concept — not the dictionary definition — that will direct your thinking. 

Next up:  LIARS

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3 Responses to “Words: We Live By Them”

RSS Feed for WORDS according to Dean Comments RSS Feed

Alan Greenspan: I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much. Jim Rohn

Thank you for this backlink, I really appreciate it and am most grateful for your generosity.


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