The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

The meaning of words

Words mean different things depending on the context in which they are used.

As I’m so used to switching between languages, I’m also constantly confronted with the impact this change of language has on me. It would be exaggerated to say, that I’m a different person when I switch to German or French. But the ways I think and feel are different. And in some situations, this can be destabilizing as I need to integrate what I’m thinking about and trying to achieve into the way of thinking that accompanies the language I switched into. The common references seem to have disappeared.

It’s a bit like being able to have a professional conversation connecting marketing and psychology. It works best with someone who is as much at ease in that field as I am. Not too much more, not much less.

The ability to have useful and interesting conversations despite gaps in our common language comes with our clarity of meaning. It starts by knowing what definition we are using for a word that will fit the context of our conversation.

Usually, people do this quite naturally by noticing a gap of understanding and asking for clarification.

However, marketing, buzzword usage, expert talk, and many other ways we’ve developed using language go against this. This is especially true with English as it is used by so many non-native speakers (like me). We often lack the understanding of the subtleties embedded in the language only known to native speakers.

I doubt that prescribing specific ways to use words and sentences will be helpful across nations. Especially if they seek to solve the riddle of the many miscommunications resulting from an overgeneralization of words. If such a move involves reconnecting words, meaning and context I’ll be more optimistic.

Luckily we have a hand on this in our daily life.


Share this post:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *