Sunday, May 14, 2017

Correctness and Trouble

When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less. 
- Humpty Dumpty, Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Words are the source of misunderstandings.
 - The Fox, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

More than once I've gotten myself in trouble for using words precisely, mostly because I was in the company of someone who held some degree of power over me and felt that my use of complex language was demeaning. But to feel slighted for unintentional ignorance is... ignorant.

If I tell you a flock of birds is nearby and annoying and loud, that doesn't share much information. But if I say it's a gaggle of geese, and they're raucous and cacophonous, you know how disjointed my ability to hear could be handicapped.

And it's not that I have a hearing problem, but in high volume environments my brain has more difficult parsing spoken language. If I had a hearing problem, I would have trouble hearing things; what I have is trouble understanding things. "Parsing" is the act of separating a string (in code) or a sentence into its parts and figuring out how they relate; I heard the sounds your mouth made when you spoke, but they didn't make sense. It's a brain problem, not an ear problem.

On the other hand, if you're being intentionally ignorant, that's your fault and problem, and you should feel slighted.