A Few Words about Words

Since so much of this material is about vocabulary, I wanted to spend some time talking about words and how slippery they are There’s a website that gives statistics about the weather in a couple hundred of the largest cities in the country. The site includes a table that shows the number of sunny days, cloudy days and partly cloudy days for all the major US cities
I got to wondering what they meant. So how  many clouds does it take to be partly cloudy how many patches of clear can you have during a day and still be called cloudy. The thing is words create boundaries so that inside this area we call things sunny and outside of it they are something else.

The problem is that reality is often much less clear than the words we use would seem to imply.  It’s sort if like this.

We all have our own internal definitions of what that means. So that there are days I might call sunny that you might call partly cloudy. Now if we actually compare notes on a given day we might well discover the discrepancy and reach some sort of shared agreement. That or at least we’d have an opportunity to understand that we disagreed.

The problem is that all to often the discrepancy goes unrecognized. After all who has time to compare meanings for all of the words we use during a conversation.

The problem with this mental game of catch we play called conversation is that the ball transforms in the air so that the ball that is caught is rarely, if ever, the ball that was thrown. Moreover much of the time neither the person throwing nor the person catch is aware of the transformation as the ball moves from one to the other. In other words one person can think he’s playing a game of catch with a football he throws the football, sees the other person catch in and then throw it back. Meanwhile the other person sees just a clearly that they are playing tennis. He sees the serve, watches the ball cross over the net, sees it bounce and then hits a clean forehand winner over the net.

In my opinion, the spiritual realm is particularly susceptible to this issue. I’ve heard it said that in the spiritual real,, “Those who know don’t say, those who say don’t know.” Perhaps that’s why.

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