When we were little, we learned ABC. Once we were familiar with the entire range of alphabets, we were taught to form words with them, and then to put meanings into them.
The other day, Microsoft Word had red lines underneath some words which my teacher had typed on some articles. I was sure I had heard or read those words before, but somehow Word did not accept them as words, giving me the impression that they were either spelt wrongly, or no such words exist. Not satisfied, I checked the Oxford dictionary and some Word Power dictionary that I’ve purchased from Reader’s Digest. Still, no word to be found. I decided to google them, and most words (which I had googled) did have their definitions though they were not the source of words; and beside them, in italics or in brackets explained to me why these words were not in the dictionaries or accepted by Word. They were less commonly used.
My darling Angel (ahem, as in Angeline) is a very cute girl. Many a times, when our teacher tells us a word, or when I tell her a word, or someone else tells her a word, she would say that it is not it. When I ask her to explain to me her experience of what she deemed to be different, I’d soon find out that she meant the same as what our teacher said, what I said or what someone else had said. And then she’d say, “eh, but I thought that was YYY (as in the word she used differently)!!!” And we’d both realise that we had the same meaning or experiences but had worded them differently. Similarly, hers and my meaning of the word ‘Innocence’; albeit the same word; is different.
Who is to say that what she perceived of the meaning of a word is not the word that is not right? And who is to say that what we perceived of the meaning of a word, so commonly used, is right? In truth, there is no right and wrong because words are meaningless. They are merely alphabets put together, and being conjured a meaning as a mean to communicate with the public.
So easily we judge ourselves or others when we see things differently from the norm of the society. It’s either we are wrong, or they are wrong ~ so we either beat ourselves up, or we have mental wars with others. It’s a never-ending story.
Of course, it serves a purpose to communicate in the same ‘lingo’ per se. But really, even if we are really speaking the same language, using words which are commonly understood by the norm, can we be sure that I am really understanding you, or that you are really understanding me? I can never be sure and will never know. Can you?