As a crossword puzzle solver I am both puzzled (pun intended) and amazed by the plethora of word meanings even for common every day vernacular. The word woke has come at me recently. In conversation with a friend about our mutual concern over a social injustice, she exclaimed that I was a woke person. Yes, one aware of social injustice. I guess it is nice to have a word that sums up a lot meaning in one simple stroke.
All this got me to thinking about how we interact in a multiple of professional, family, and social situations with a vernacular that we may or may not understand. Communication if often stymied if the people do not have the same vocabulary or the same vernacular (dialect). I am reminded of an experience over 50 years ago when I travelled with a Cornell engineering consultant for the poultry industry in New York State. Hollis Davis was a bit of a character. A rough and ready guy who broached no nonsense. On our journey he was consulting with a poultry farmer who was planning new housing for his birds. When we met, Hollis went about explaining how the structure should be built and the type of beams and trusses to be used in various locations in the structure. The structural elements actually went by different names depending on the part of the state we were in. As I observed their exchanges, I noticed that Hollis would check with the farmer every few sentences to see if he was comprehending his recommendations. When the communications broke down, Hollis would refer to the particular structural element with a different name. One time I think he went through at least three names until the farmer understood what he was talking about. For a neophyte like me, it was a lesson in effective communication.
Perhaps the moral of this screed is that we need to recognize who we are communicating with and use the correct vernacular for the situation. When in conversation about skiing with people outside the skier fanatics, I notice I will use terms that have little meaning to them. Then it is time to check in and rephrase with interpretation of the vernacular I have fallen into. No wonder folks who learn English as a second language have trouble with our idioms and dialects. Meanwhile I will continue to enjoy learning new words and new vernacular. It is part of my entertainment during my pandemic isolation.
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