Skip to main content

Watching My Language

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

No, this isn't about my saying rude things to the computer when it doesn't work the way it's supposed to. This is about wording choices in general. It's easy nowadays to have a misunderstanding, especially on the Web. At The Question Evolution Project, I made a remark about "st00pid dumb Xtians" that someone disliked. Mayhaps he was in a in a bit of a hurry, and sent a message:
What is an Xtian??? If you don't have enough respect to spell out Christian, then you have little, or no power, to persuade. I will unfollow you.
Since he wrote, I figured he would let me reply, so I wrote back:
No need to get all excited, I also said "st00pid dumb" in that sentence. It was sarcasm on how anti-Christians treat us, and I have been called that several times - but not by Christians. Although "Xtian" (or "Xian") is considered by some to be a legitimate abbreviation, I don't use it unless I'm being sarcastic about professing atheists who like to attack us.
He was mollified by this, and after we exchanged a few more messages, I realized that he gave me the inspiration for this here article.

Our language choices, phrasing, humor, other things can complicate communication and even cause misunderstanding. There are several reasons for this. I suggest that we take things slow and check before getting angry.
Image credit: Pixabay / geralt
The Bible isn't the only place that context is important. I have been hurt, and I have hurt people, through misunderstandings. This troubles me. Often times, it's word choice and the way they're used that cause confusion. Add to this the increasingly frantic pace of society (seems that people are more interested in captioned pictures than quality articles, for instance), so things are read quickly. I've had some long articles that had to be split into two parts because I thought I'd lose readers if I left them running long.

Another factor is people's grasp of language. Some people have excellent vocabularies, others not so much. Then you can have someone with your language as their second language. I've made jokes that were not understood and had to be explained.

I believe we all tend to expect that people are reasonably intelligent and know where we're coming from, but sometimes we can over-assume. I've heard remarks on theological and science podcasts that I couldn't repeat that to co-workers because I don't know which of them would understand the references. Not a slur on their intelligence, but a simple fact that some of us catch specialized lingo and others do not.

My offbeat sense of humor and desire to add some personality or color to things are also personal complicating factors that can cause confusion.

"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."
— Attributed to several people, actual source unknown

Let me give you a small piece of advice, Pilgrim. Slow down and check. The fellow I mentioned above was initially incensed, but he checked with me, and let me explain myself. Here's another example. While talking with the lady that cuts my hair, the topic wandered and I said, "I like sets". She said, "I don't know what that means". I told her, "Matching fragrance in soaps, shampoo —" She interrupted, "Oh, you mean sets!" I really think she thought I said, "I like sex", and was trying to get her to do the Mattress Mambo with me. Glad she took it slow and didn't get angry at something she didn't hear correctly.

Meanwhile, I still have to deal with my odd sense of humor, language and vocabulary difficulties, and today's hasty society. But I still feel bad when someone gets a meaning out of what I said that wasn't intended — especially when I stated something poorly.


Popular posts from this blog

Shining the Light on a Darwinist Deceiver

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen This is part 2 of Conspiracy Theories, Creation, and Reason , but takes a different approach. We saw how a number of factors contribute to the act of purveying conspiracy theories, and how there are several reasons why people believe them. Then there is the alleged creation science conspiracy. Credit: Unsplash / Steve Johnson We have three articles to consider, two of which are from the same ministry. Naturally there will be some overlap, but they each offer material that comprise a larger picture. There was a time when if someone had a question about, say, that 2002 email saying the teddy bear icon in Windows was really a virus. They could check Snopes and find out that it was a hoax , and they could search for urban legends. Unfortunately, they became heavily involved in promoting leftist political views with "fact checking", and their credibility became questionable. Snopes even attacked the parody site Babylon Bee (one of whose slogans is " fa

Smoking that Doobie, Brother

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen Many countries, especially on the western side of the Atlantic, have decriminalized cannabis (weed, pot, doobies, grass, smoke, reefer, whatever) and legalized it for medical use. Many places have made recreational use legal as well. Even where illegal, enforcement of laws is often sporadic . And there was great rejoicing among pot smokers. In fact, here in not-all-that-far-upstate New York, cops don't care. Polly Pothead in the apartment next door was chugging away so much, the smoke could be seen not only in the hallway, but seeped into our own apartment. Police did nothing. That was before it was legal, but her usage is the same as before; smoking wacky tobaccy just wasn't important enough to enforce the law. Also, she's a terrible conversationalist. One article I found in my research mentioned that Mary Jane was originally illegal because it is harmful. (Oh, come on! Don't get a burr under your saddle. You know it's true. People who argue

Silencing President Trump and Me

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen This article is going to cover a few shocking points that should be of concern to people who value free speech. Donald Trump and I are best buddies — yeah, like he knows that I even exist. But we do have a few things in common regarding censorship. Made at PhotoFunia I was riding the Fakebook trail one night in March of 2013 when I was suddenly booted. Huh? They demanded proof of my age! After complying, I was told,  Upon investigation, we have determined that you are ineligible to use Facebook. You can view our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities at the following address: https://www.facebook.com/terms.php Unfortunately, for safety and security reasons, we cannot provide additional information as to why your account was disabled. This decision is final. Thanks for your understanding Security reasons? Oh, please! Upon searching, this has happened to other people as well. They did not receive explanations or reinstatement, either. I thought it was a fluke,