English as a Limitation Language

I’ve managed to get myself well and thoroughly stuck.

You see, James the Dancing Geek asked a very good question some days ago regarding “strategy.” Through his question (and the questions of others), I realized that the language I’ve been using to communicate this stuff about Communication isn’t working so well. It’s too limited and limiting. And … being a GINORMOUS language dweeb … I sent my mind into a feedback loop trying to sort out how to fix this conundrum.

The word I found

My tweet to Steve

Now this may all sound like an excuse for not posting about the Tactical stuff I’ve promised, but it’s not. That post is almost completely written, but not yet posted because I’m stuck on some language-related stuff. And the stuck comes from wanting to be clear. Wanting to communicate well. Wanting to model the stuff I’m trying to talk about.

You see, I’m aware that I’m pretty good at this communication thing. I’m pretty good with the words. Just yesterday, I managed to stupeify Steve Spalding by finding a word in an English dictionary (the OED to be precise) that gets fewer than 1,000 page results on Google.


Steve's initial response

Steve's initial response



Yes, my pulling out a volume of the OED just to find a word that produces fewer than 1,000 results in Google is silly, but it’s the kind of silly that excites me. I love words that much. Yes, I am a geek. But I’ve discussed that already

I’m also good at the digression, just in case you hadn’t noticed.


It’s about the words, the way we use them to craft a message, the way we can abuse them to do irreparable harm. It’s about the feel of words as they are scratched out on paper or as they are typed into a computer. It’s about the texture of words on the tongue. But it’s also about the non-word parts – the gesture, the eye-rolls, the laughter that infects everyone in earshot.

Communication is so fundamental to who and what we are as living beings that it warrants far more respect and attention than most of us give to it.

And yet …

And yet the language that I am using to communicate with you via this blog – the English language – is one of the most complicated, convoluted, and thus limiting languages on the planet. Don’t misunderstand me. It’s my first language, and the one in which I can best communicate with others. But it is limiting. Limited. 

Far too often, I see it used to constrain, to box, to categorize ideas and things and people that ought not be treated in that manner. But we do it, because we don’t have another … better alternative. 

And this is where I get stuck. 

And so I’ve been thinking. I feel like Winnie the Pooh …

Think, think, think. 

By no means am I done thinking on this, but I have managed to come to one conclusion.

I’m getting myself all knotted up over something I can’t possibly fix!

And I need to stop it. I need to step away from the dictionary, take some long, slow deep breaths, and keep forging ahead.

Am I always going to make sense to everyone? No. Will I eventually find some group of people to whom I make sense, and for whom I may be able to provide some service? I believe I will. 

So while I will finish the Tactical post, complete with imperfect language, know this:

I know it’s not perfect. It will never be totally clear to everyone. But the way to find the clarity is to dialogue. To keep talking. And to have patience with one another along that road to understanding.

Okay. I think it’s better that I’ve said all that now. Back to finishing that other post…


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