The American Lexicon Is Fundamentally Evolutionary

We make all kinds of decisions every day.  I’d assert that a tenet of life is decision.

Decisions are based on a fundamental understanding of options.  These options are often presented through language.  Our language has mirrored our intellectual expansion during the past twenty years (since the commercialization of the internet), but it’s also exponentially increased the likelihood of poor decisions versus good decisions.  And not for the reason you’re probably thinking about right now.

It’s not that our decision-making ability has declined, it’s that our American English lexicon has been stripped of standards and replaced by Idiolects which are varieties of a specific language unique to an individual. In other words, how an individual (all individuals) use parts of speech specific to the language they’re speaking.  Huh?  Are you suggesting that we’re using vocabulary generally accepted but individually defined?

Yes, for example: I’ve had a great evening; would you like to come up for a night cap?  Twenty years ago you had a pretty good idea that the night cap meant some form of refreshment and m-a-y-b-e. . .But today a night cap most likely is prone to interpretation, and depending on the interpreter, the night cap might be the evening’s last tango which spins and dips and clutches its way to dawn, or the night cap might be the gut-wrenching sound of starboard iron scraping along larboard iron in a dense fog on a moonless night in the frigid north sea.  Both invitations were accepted but only one, the former, seemed to coalesce.  The latter was respectfully disharmonious and most likely eliminated any tandem future.  Okay, so what?  What’s this got to do with me?

We’re all assuming that what we say and what they hear are synonymous.  But in this day and age of individuality, identity, and me-me-meism which is reinforced constantly through internet-based social networks and the hardboiled, pragmatic, and mundane personal updates which someone somewhere will proclaim as unique (dismissing our language’s standard usages) and applaud their meism misuse (interpretation) of vocabulary, and whammo!  A word or phrase which held a generalized meaning now has a bastard son.  This phenomenon is known as Language Evolution Based on the Idiolectic Intersection of Individual Adoption.

So what’ve you been blathering on about?

Simply put: What you know you’re saying (standardized use) is being heard as something different (Idiolectic use).  Perhaps if communication was bipartisan (the talkers and listeners understand that their communication is reshaping the English lexicon) then we might lessen misunderstandings and agree to use a mutually standardized language in order to foster a sense of unity.

10 thoughts on “The American Lexicon Is Fundamentally Evolutionary

  1. Do you find this challenge is even more pronounced when there aren’t audible words spoken with an inflection that colors the word and as with music aids in deciphering the meaning or intent behind the words? So much of what we call communication now is voiceless; letters – often not really words or phrases, cleverly arranged so as to be under the character limit. Even this comment posted to someone whose voice I once knew so well.

    But then when voice does carry the message, there are some who speak so quickly without hearing their own voice and considering how their words might be received. Much like a certain political person who tosses the ball underhanded but never holds up their mitt to catch the return pitch. As I may have mentioned in a previous post on another entry; how could anyone hope to understand the point being made to them, if in their mind they are really just ruminating about the next thing they should say that could score points. Listening and understanding are not the same thing but it’s impossible to attempt the later without first soaking deeply in a sonorous human voice, particularly if he be baritone and brilliant.

    Then when we compound disconnect with the potential of an individual’s re-purposed vocabulary and the me-ism misuse of words, it seems almost miraculous when someone does seem to get me. And there’s nothing quite as satisfying as knowing you’ve genuinely been heard and valued.


  2. It is very amusing and frustrating what I say in response to others. I am hard of hearing and often answer when not addressed or say something siliceous.

    As a person who experiences depression and loses all sense of senses, I know options are rare and far between. However, it is only through looking and taking action on the options that I can move forward.

    Your blog is the best of the internet. So, I haven’t answered your question?


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