Meanderings As you wander life's path, keep open eyes and an inquisitive mind …

Does English make us lazy listeners?

You hear it all the time: someone describes a non-English language (take your pick) as “difficult to learn” and “inaccurate”. Apparently, because Japanese doesn’t use pronouns casual conversation, it’s considered by some as “crude” (or any one of a number of other adjectives).

But … think about this:

We’ve spent so much effort creating a large vocabulary of words that we either don’t use, don’t know how to use, or use incorrectly (like our current president or pretty much any politician, though in completely different ways).

Other languages require the reader/listener to derive understanding from context. Japanese, like I mentioned earlier, doesn’t employ pronouns in casual conversation unless to emphasize. They rely on context vocal inflection to provide cues to fill in the details. What does this mean? It means that people conversing in those languages need to listen more carefully to what is being said and how it is being said to understand the conversation.

English, on the other hand, has been so crafted that one only need pay attention to the words, not their inflection. This has allowed such sloppy habits as ending every sentence on an up-note, so each statement sounds like a question (listen to teenagers talk), for example.

End result? Our overly complex language and our desire to explicitly define and describe everything has rendered us conversationally lazy. We don’t think about what’s being said anymore, we’re too busy trying to formulate what we will be saying.

By Scott
Meanderings As you wander life's path, keep open eyes and an inquisitive mind …