It may seem like the words and gestures we use are simple and linear representations of what we intend to communicate, however our canvas of language is much more complex. Barring subjective relativism, two people will communicate (via verbals + non-verbals) a similar clause in different ways, due to history, nuance, gestures and attitude toward subject. Language is thus organic rather than static, and the more we get to know ourselves and others, the more precisely we'll be able to actively evolve our language and reasoning skills, instead of simply adopting popular and trendy clauses and terminologies.
Orwell points out the folly within the English language, where it simply absorbs words from other languages without truly integrating them into English's ecosystem; we adopted cafe' instead of caffay. English is very phonetic in some instances--say tray aloud, each letter gets pronounced--and in others it simply relies on memorization--military kernel...no, military Colonel. What gets even hairier are homonyms, words that look the same but are pronounced differently due to different meaning--'can' (a will or potential), or 'can' (food container). English also has so many nuances to describe one thing (think of cold: brisk, chilly, frigid, raw, crisp, nippy...) which makes it a fantastic language because one can really hone in on their intention. This is one of the reasons I appreciate the English language, because one can sit and tinker with words and sentences and completely alter the meaning of a whole piece by merely changing a few words. This also makes it one of the most difficult languages to learn from scratch in adulthood, due to the extent and grammatical memorization.
Due to the fact that I'm a writer and use language as a tool of understanding, it's a specialty. However, this doesn't mean I'm an expert, and as such I've learned a few very valuable lessons about navigating the nebulous waters of the English language:
1) A core Kristhofferian principle: "Say what you mean and mean what you say." I've been fortunate enough to have been shown how our words and our thinking are reflections of one another, just that one is inner and the other is outer. If you misspeak, own it and learn why you used those particular words and clauses because odds are you didn't misspeak, you were simply caught off guard and revealed your true self.
2) Word length and intellect are not necessarily linked. A simple phrase that clearly represents what you mean is more meaningful than tongue-twisting charlatanry. Sure, there are times when larger words are useful, but I've often found that if I'm trying to shape a sentence or ideal around a particular word, then I'm fabricating the meaning artificially, rather than truly representing what's in my mind. If not reconciled, the product will be low quality. I've found those with the strongest vocabularies use their words precisely and intentionally.
3) Swearing can be fun, but it's a primal response, rather than a specific referent. This is why removing a swear from a sentence and replacing it with a nuanced word will always make it clearer, because a swear isn't about meaning, it's about delivering affect.
4) Reading automatically makes you a clearer speaker, and writer. I'm still impressed at how this happens, but I don't think it comes down to much more than an argument of nutrition: reading and writing are interdependently nutritious. Do one well and the other improves. One needs to be careful when it comes to speaking, though, because unless one is a natural orator, simply speaking more and more and more won't necessarily make you a better reader or writer. Natural orators have a belt packed with tools aiding their communication, whereas non-natural speakers need more than mere repetition to clear up their language because they don't have natural clarity, adeptness or flexibility with the tool. Undisciplined speakers are thus rhetorical, rather than objective.
5) Avoid cliche'. Cliche's are overused and in my mind, cheating. They're like the free space in the middle of a Bingo board. You didn't earn it, you just took what's given, applied it to your circumstances, and "hoped for the best." A dependency on cliche' demonstrate a lack of original, reflected thought.
6) Embrace idiom. Idioms carry meaning beyond the combination of their individual words. "Even a stopped clock is right twice a day" is one of my favorites, because it shows that even though you may have the right conclusion, if the means to arrive at that conclusion aren't existent then the whole process is faulty, because resolution and meaning are based on the process added to the conclusion. Idioms make us more insightful.
These are accessible to anyone, but don't think that this list is exhaustive. English is a difficult language to master (I'll let you know when I get there in a few decades...) so it's helpful to revisit fundamentals to polish up our skills. Thus, it's no surprise why intellects of any flavor focus on concepts, ideals, and representations, rather than simply concrete definitions and memorized rules of grammar.
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