Sunday, August 19, 2012

An Elephant's Faithful, One Hundred Percent.

Maybe a lot of you have this problem or maybe I'm the only crazy person out there (though I suspect not). I love the English language. I love it so much that I spent 4 years and lots and lots of money to study and get a degree in it. I studied overseas in its birthplace. Words taste as good to my brain as good food does to my mouth. I know all the rules and usages and meanings. And I feel like I'm the only one.

Nobody wants to be "that guy." The English Professor. The Nerd. Captain Know-It-All. Nobody likes being corrected when they're using the language incorrectly, and despite having had a professional career in doing so, I try not to do it in my everyday life. When I see or hear words used incorrectly, I cringe, but I bite my tongue. It doesn't matter. What the person is trying to say is more important that how they're saying it, right? So I shut up.

But, should I?

I mean, should I just assume I know what you're saying? Isn't that an insult to you? By doing that aren't I automatically assuming you're making a mistake and that I can presume to know what you actually meant to say? I feel like that's rude and more importantly, what if what you mean to say is neither the words you are using nor the words I think you should be using, but a third combination of words that you intend and that I can't guess at? It leads to a lot of miscommunication and to me, it's frustrating.

I ask a lot of clarifying questions, and I try very hard to subtly divine meaning, if its unclear, which can be frustrating to the person with whom I'm conversing. They are just trying to tell me something, they don't want to be asked a bunch of questions about it. From my perspective, I'm trying to respect what they're saying, to make sure I understand what they're trying to convey, without insulting them by implying that they're making a mistake.

Language misuse is rampant these days and I know much better than to spend my days going around correcting everyone, pushing my imaginary nerdly glasses up my nose and saying "Well, ACTUALLY, what I think you mean to say is..." But communication is important. Your voice deserves to be heard. Without any scientific data to prove it, I feel like a large percentage of disagreements among anyone, be it couples, coworkers, families, etc. are caused by miscommunication. People say it's stupid. It doesn't matter. Don't be such a stickler/nerd/whatever. "You know what I mean!" But it is important. It does matter. Cheesy as it may sound, effective communication makes everything better.

Perhaps the world would be better if we were all like Dr. Seuss's egg-hatching friend Horton.

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