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In Your Own Words -- Writer's Poke #213

I'm sure a comic genius like George Carlin or Steve Martin has already made a joke about this, but if so, I'm not aware of it.

So let me share this semi-original thought with you: Imagine you're in a courtroom, and a clown has just taken the stand. A lawyer walks up to the clown, asking him to speak honestly, "in your own words."

"Booga sentri sooma sah," says the clown.

Okay, the point is this: none of us has our "own words." Those of us that speak English use a common language, but that doesn't necessarily make communication that much easier. The meaning of words change. Think, for example, of how older folks sometimes complain that "words don't mean the same thing that they used to."

This isn't a new phenomena, by the way. Take a look at the Oxford English Dictionary sometime, and you'll discover the origin and evolution of any word you care to explore. And as Bill Clinton showed us in the 1990s, even the most simple two letter word, even the humble word "is," can be interpreted in a variety of ways.

Perhaps the clown is right to develop his own language?

What does "words are all we have" mean? Are words nothing more than beautiful lies?

"A different language is a different vision of life." -- Federico Fellini


  1. I reject the notion that "we" have a common language. English speakers may have a common core, but around that we find much more that is not common.


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