Languages are essentially agreements. At the moment, you and I are working under the English agreement. We both agree that you are using “eyes” to read this post and the thing that processes your thoughts about it is called a “brain”. As my day job, I try to get young people to accept the Spanish agreement. Over the years that I have explained this concept, I was aware that there are many variations underneath each agreement. There is American English and Australian English but in essence they are close enough to allow communication to flow. Today I had a thought that I may have sold the idea of variations a little bit short.
The problem with the language agreement is the same as with most contracts: the fine print. As I was driving home, I began thinking. If language is an agreement, why do we disagree so often? One of the issues is that I am not exactly writing English here. I’m writing American 39 year old moderately educated Northwest New Jersey English. I could probably lump a few more descriptors on there but you get the point. Does this mean that we can’t understand each other? No, that’s not necessarily true. The key is to recognize what language you’re really speaking and the language of the other person.
This simple shift can make your communications better with the most important people in your life. For example, silence can mean something very different in the female language than the male. It can also change person to person. The key is to work to understand the other person’s language rather than assuming that your languages are compatible.