As far as the properties of language are concerned, I think we can all agree that a language is a system of symbols which must be defined by a set of
rules, such as spelling and grammar.
For the purpose of this thread, I am more interested in variations in a common language, and variances thereof.
The ATS common language is English (I accept that it is not the first language of some members), and one would think that with a common language,
mistakes and misinterpretation would be less common than they are.
However, colloquial variations mean this is often not the case - a word which someone in a region of America or Australia may not find offensive, may
be regarded as offensive by someone in the UK.
A term commonly used in Scotland, may be considered differently in southern England, or a term in one part of the US considered differently in another
So, how does this fit in with ATS and the philosophical discussion forum?
In many ways it's difficult to pinpoint something which has been misinterpreted, simply because of the way our brains work - I'm sure many have seen
the puzzle in which the first and last letters of a word are kept, and then the rest of the letters jumbled up.
The words can still be read vrey elsilay and rigsenoced for what they are, but for a split second, sometimes it's just a jumble.
And this is how I believe our brains respond to colloquial terms used in ways we are not familiar with, except it takes longer to figure out - of
course by that time, a person may be on the warpath, and not take the time out to re-read and make sure they understood the intent behind the written
words, something which is particularly difficult online, as most of our communication when face to face is nonverbal - in fact as little as 7% of what
we say can be directly attributed to the words we use according to some studies.
Another grey area is profanity, and what actually constitutes profanity, especially online.
The use of a word in one country or region may be totally acceptable, whilst in another region it may be considered offensive - of course there are
some words which are considered to be universally offensive, but some of the milder profanity is difficult to quantify in this sense.
I would again argue that in many cases, it is the overall picture painted by the language used which shows the intent of the language, the
colloquialisms and the profanity.
BUT again, with so much of our everyday interaction being nonverbal, how do we guage intent online?
The saying about countries separated by a common language is very true, and could also be broken down to include different regions, cities and even
towns in the same county.
Even on a site like ATS there are different forums where different language (buzzwords) is used, and an outsider simply would not understand.
Management-speak is another example of people mangling language to create an environment where only insiders understand what is being said, and as
humans, this is in our nature - to want to belong, and to feel "special" because we are part of a culture that people outside the culture don't
In other words, insiderspeak.
With all these limitations and rules, it's a wonder any of us understand each other!
I'd like to get a feel for how other people percieve language, profanity, intent and misunderstandings which are due to variations in a common
All idea's welcome