The Countermarch

Quod Scripsi, Scripsi

Reader: I wasn’t quoting you.  I was characterizing your analysis as such.

Me: You were mischaracterizing my analysis.  What I have written, I have written.  What you have written, I did not.

Reader: Says you.

Words have meaning.  We live our lives, for the most part, in a world in which, on a clear spring day, one can say, “The sky is blue,” and everyone else will cheerfully agree (or wonder why you’re bothering to state the obvious).  When we make plans to meet at five o’clock at the Rusty Dog for a drink, no one thinks that means a slice of pumpkin pie at Nick’s Kitchen at 7:30.  We routinely travel at our own pace on the highway, but we all understand how fast we’re supposed to be going when we see the words SPEED LIMIT 70.

Community depends on our ability to communicate.  Language barriers don’t make community impossible, but they do make it much harder to achieve.  If you don’t know a word of French, you’re not likely to feel at home in the streets of Paris, much less in a village in Bretagne.  And if you don’t know that the cheese toastie listed on the menu is localspeak for a grilled-cheese sandwich or understand why the waitress is asking you if you’d like a sack for your leftovers, you might feel a bit out of sorts when you first move to Northeast Indiana.


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