Our world is constantly changing, and so is our society. Social practices are changing all the time. What men wouldn’t dream of doing 10 years ago is slowly becoming commonplace. The 21st century man is able to express his feelings and emotions, cook, decorate, and dress stylishly, all while maintaining his masculinity. So where does that leave you? If you are visiting this blog, you're probably looking for some tips on how to improve your lifestyle. This is your chance to get started.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

What Did You Say?

Interpretation can be defined as an explanation or conceptualization by a critic of a work of literature, painting, music, or other art form; or something that serves to explain or clarify. The interesting and often funny thing is how we interpret one another in our day to day activities. It is hard enough to try and interpret spoken language while interacting with our friends and family, but even harder to interpret someone we don’t know well, like a salesperson, co-worker, or tech support operator.

Now throw in sarcasm, politics and religion and it’s a wonder we understand each other at all at times. Language is constantly evolving, and English is the best known example of this. Expressions, colloquialisms, deviations, and derivations illustrate the ever-changing complexity of the English language. The language adopts hundreds of new words per year, as they evolve via use and misuse alike, coincidentally "blog" was picked as word of the year in 2004 by Merriam-Webster.

Technology has added new factors to hinder the way we interpret each other. Emails, instant messages, and text messages are just some of the mediums causing some of us wondering, "What the hell was he/she saying?"

A common problem, and one that I just experienced, is what is the sender trying to say in an email, a commonly misinterpreted item. Emails are usually written very quickly, not proof read and not very detailed, which can cause a great deal of misinterpretation. For this very reason, a piece that I had written had been misinterpreted, but upon re-reading what I had written I could see how it could be misunderstood.

When you eliminate the subtle nuances of speech such as tone, inflection, and implication, you lose and important piece of the puzzle. The reader can get frustrated, confused, and even angry if they do not understand what the sender is trying to say. Sometimes a follow up email, a phone call, or speaking in person is the only way to clear up the confusion. We live in a complicated world, and these forms of technology are not making interpreting each other any easier.


Blogger gusgreeper said...

this is a great post ! i REALLY love it !!
i more than see myself in this! this post is 'classic' me. if whoever i am talking to or writing to does not 'know' me i always leave a BAD first impression because i refuse to sensor myself and i am kinda out there...i do get frustrated totally but i just go with..... this is me and if you don't like me or don't get me and aren't willing to give me a chance then fuck off. or if you don't understand what i am saying ASK. i am a person who ALWAYS asks questions if i don't 'get it'. more people likely should ask questions!

1:21 PM

Blogger Carrie said...

Always better to just pick up the phone. A person can detect one's attitude or lack thereof on the phone, based on voice perception, much better than any type of electronic communication...indeed.

as they say: Smile! they can tell if you are smiling or not on the phone. On blogger, IM, or email, um, not so much. unless of course you imput those silly little happy faces. ;) (like that)

I'm always happy. ok ok, most of the time

1:26 PM

Blogger mermaid said...

Hmmm, I wonder who would ever misinterpret you?

They say that most communication is all in "tone, inflection, and implication", especially taken together with body language. This is obviously missing from emails, blogger comments, etc.

If one cares enough, the receiver, or the writer, the miscommunication can me remedied. I also realize that when I, personally am misinterpreting something, it's usually because of a personal reason that has nothing to do with the original writer.

Actions are always a giveaway. Unfortunately, cyberspace does not grant that luxury. Sometimes, too many words can do that as well, so I'll stop now.

Great post!

1:29 PM

Blogger Neel said...

I dont like calling you Spock and I dont want to call you by your first name (unless you want me to) so I am just going to refer to you as "C". I am really glad you enjoyed the post, I think we have all experienced it especially when blogging. I agree with you about asking questions, but people have a tendancy to get mad, upset, or bothered before they ask questions.

1:49 PM

Blogger Karen said...

I don't believe it is only the writen word that is misinterpreted - sometimes people are on the same wave length and other times not - Great post

1:56 PM

Blogger Neel said...

Mitzzee, call me! You are totally right, spoken word is less likely to get misconstrued however, we still get confused when the speaker is being sarcastic or has a heavy accent, uses words we dont understand etc.

Yes, its hard to know who is smiling on the other end isnt it, unless of course you are chatting, and making the person on the other end laugh. Then there are also the little smily faces as you said. :)

1:58 PM

Blogger Neel said...

Mermaid, that is my secret. You are absolutely right that either party can rememdy the miscommunication. Thank you for an excellent and inciteful post! And thanks for the emails, I really enjoy them.

2:00 PM

Blogger Neel said...

Karen, how did you suddenly slip in there? Yes, you are right, the spoken word can very often be misunderstood as well. Thanks!

2:01 PM

Blogger Lorena said...

yes isn't it true. the ways of communicating with each other has increased and so has the confusion. It's unfortunate that email or text replaces spending quality time with each other.

great post :)

2:16 PM

Blogger Sarah said...

this just happened to me as well.. i knew as soon as i hit the "send" button.. that i had typed up some things that probably would be misinterpreted.. then BANG when i checked my e-mail today.. there it was. the reply.

whatever happened to the "unsend" feature.. i need a mulligan.

2:50 PM

Blogger Sarah said...

i don't think Corinna is sensitive to who knows her name.. it's on her site. =)

that said.. i call her Gus most of the time.

3:00 PM

Blogger M said...

Glad to have you back...thank you for your comment on my blog..:)

3:17 PM

Blogger Carrie said...

this is true. ;)

zero that means....there's no nothing, when spoken in words or on blogger it can't be misconstrued, mais oui?

this is why I speak simply...no misunderstandings....clear as mud, right? lol

3:33 PM

Blogger The Ivory Tower said...

When you are having this much trouble with "understanding" try adding pictures. They have a rather "universal" language

3:49 PM

Blogger Neel said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:34 PM

Blogger Neel said...

Funny, some of the readers are not even getting this post.

Ms. Laughs, your use of vernacular once again amazes me. I had to look up mulligan, although I had heard it before, I had forgotton the meaning. Yeah, I am confused on what to call her, I knew that a lot of people call her Corinna.

M, thanks... good to be back (me thinks).

Mitzzee yes, crystal clear as mud.

Ivory Tower, like they say a picture says a thousand words however, I am not having that much trouble being understood, this is more of a general post. Thanks for your comments though.

4:41 PM

Blogger Sarah said...

mulligan: one of the very few things i know about golf.

5:07 PM

Blogger gusgreeper said...

you can totally call me corinna
i hope your back is feeling better!

6:21 PM

Blogger Neel said...

Well Sarah, its still quite impressive.

Corinna, then that I shall call you. Funny thing about illness and injury, one starts to feel better then forgets one is in a weakened state and wham, the injury or illness is worsened again. I went to sit down earlier and did my back in again, but I was feeling much better before that happened. I will be having an MRI on Wednesday, so that should shed some light on the severity of the injury. Thanks for asking.

10:15 PM

Blogger transience said...

ah, the nuances of communication. we must be able to adjust, i suppose, when we start to communicate through different mediums. needless to say, the burden of proof is still always on the sender of the message. enlightening post, neel! i missed your space.

11:27 PM

Blogger gulnaz said...

hey good to see you back, hope you are feeling better now.
yes one has to adjust one's words and nuances according to the medium. you are right, to communicate effectively is a challenge and more often than not we botch up, even with close family and freinds.
i guess as long as you are willing to learn, its ok.

12:54 AM

Blogger Neel said...

Ah the nuances of Transience! She is so beautiful and is incredibly articulate while being fluently persuasive, elloquent, if you will. My Dear, I would like to be included in your 5 questions, then we can have tea and scones.

Gulnaz, I like your new image what is it? Yes that is a very astutue observation you have made

1:34 AM

Blogger Kimberly said...

oh why oh why do I understand this so well :)
great post Neel!

4:01 AM

Blogger Carrie said...

sorry, i was trying to portray confusion, as with the misconceptions of correspondence, like your post portrayed. who didn't understand the post? moi? i kid. yes, we're glad you are posting again, and yes, transience is most wonderful....off to visit her now.

8:54 AM

Blogger Lorena said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:50 AM

Blogger Lorena said...

oh no, you missed me. i don't see any reply for my comment. i'll try not to take it personal but if you knew me, i'm pretty creative and can come up with so many reasons why you didn't and i don't know which one it could be, "what did he mean by this?" :)
joking but you did skip me!

9:51 AM

Blogger Neel said...

Lorena, I am so terrible! I am very sorry.

1. Yes, I suppose you are right, the busier we get the less time we spend with each other, which cant be good.

2. You are quite creative, that is true. Let's see how many reasons you can come up with just for fun. I really didnt do it intentionally though. You are one of my favorite people on here. You are always so positive, does anything ever get you down? Sweetness seems to ooze from every pore. Oh yeah, and I love your smile.

12:06 PM

Blogger Neel said...

Kimberly, I am glad that you could take something out of it. Thanks for stopping by.

Mitzzee, I'll fill you in later. :) Yes, Transience is wonderful and so are you. Maybe you should invite her to the bubble bath. Chat with you soon!

12:09 PM

Blogger Carrie said...

Neel - you're so funny....invite Trans to the bubble bath, the one that already includes Natasha? how many girls do you think will fit in the tub? course, Trans is more than welcome. ;)

you'll fill me in later? hmmmm

12:35 PM

Blogger Neel said...

Mitz, I'm kicking Natsha out of the playhouse. I have access to a big bathtub, so we should be able to fit 3 or 4 fairly comfortably. And actually the more the merrier (for me!) Yes, I'll fill you in! Didnt you mean...mmmmm?

1:06 PM

Blogger Carrie said...

uhoh....natasha is kicked out! blog stress? trans is in, you'll fill me in later, didn't i mean mmmmm? i see a pattern forming here..... ;)

5:32 PM

Blogger Sarah said...

neel.. ya shameless hussy..

6:03 PM

Blogger Neel said...

Mitzee, you're like me... confused! *smile*

Ms. Laughs, you're invited but I dont think Mr. Laughs would like that. We are having to move the venue to a hot tub, more room... you know.

8:51 PM

Blogger Neel said...

Ms. Laughs, you said something like that once before when you told me to stop sucking up to transience.

12:51 AM

Blogger Sk8RN said...

Interesting post. And exciting to see you posting again. Does this mean your back is better?

1:38 AM

Blogger gulnaz said...

glad you liked it! :)
the background is a glass-pane-wall sort of thing and the figures in pink are hobo codes.
the straight parallel lines= sky is the limit
the crossed circle= its a good road to follow
and the incomplete square= you can camp here.

2:28 AM

Blogger DeeM said...

Some times i wonder whether technology is bringing us closer together or further apart.

7:18 AM

Blogger stella said...


from reading all your comments, it sounds like you're getting yourself into some hot water.

literally ;)


10:43 AM

Blogger Neel said...

Sk8r, I have good days and bad with my back, thanks for asking. At the moment I am doing better.

Gulnaz, very cool. Now, when you travel by freight train you will know the codes you need. I can't really see you hopping a freight train here or in India.

Deem, I often think the same thing. Need a light for that cigarette?

Stella, yes I am. Maybe you could throw in some carrots and celery and bring me to a boil.

11:52 AM

Blogger Sarah said...

no.. i think that was: "stop sucking up to transience." =)

then you sucked up to me, so it made it all better. =)

i still think you're shameless.. even though you have gem-like qualities and you're a babe.

no (Mr.) that's why i go by Ms. and not Mrs...

11:59 AM

Blogger Sarah said...

i don't care for hot-tubs, i'd rather get down and dirty.

12:00 PM

Blogger Carrie said...

this blog is full of games.... ;)

12:05 PM

Blogger DeeM said...

fire it up, baby.

12:13 PM

Blogger gusgreeper said...

i SO KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN!! i feel your pain i really do. when my collar bone was broken i would totally 'forget' after a while and BAM i would move it wrong and be in agony again. i hear yeah!!

take care man! you don't need me tellin you that back pain is the fucking WORST!!!

12:14 PM

Blogger Neel said...

Ms. Laughs, That's exactly what I said about Tran.

I dont know if I have gem like qualities, that is very sweet but i am just me. As far as the rest of it, its just playful banter, I'm a cyber nerd so, no harm no foul.

Mitzzee, you know it baby. Wont you come out and play?

Corinna, you are great. I know you can toss the BS around and me just as much of a smart ass as me at times, but you actually read the content, and ignore the "games" as Mitzzee said.

Yes my back is still being a badword. I am hoping that I dont cause it some kind of exacerbation today so that I can try and resume some normal activities. I think I will outside now, everybody's calling my name....
Sunshine Day - The Brady Bunch

1:34 PM

Blogger Neel said...

Corinna, I forgot to thank you, so THANK YOU!

1:41 PM

Blogger Sarah said...

ah neel. you know you're a babe, so shush. cyber nerd or not, i enjoy the banter.. i also enjoy dishing out a hard time.

2:39 PM

Blogger Carrie said...

Neel - I'm always up for a good game.

8:28 PM

Blogger cedia said...

Misinterpretations... ahh.. yes.. written, verbal, non-verbal.

To take a turn from your post.. just a little bit... one of the great things in life is when you're making love, communicating to each other, totally w/out words.

9:41 PM

Blogger Neel said...

Sarah, stick out your tounge and say aaahhhh....

Obviously I too love the banter, and feel that if you can dish it out you should be able to take it, so bring it on baby!

Mitzzee, you're a good playa! Come on!!!

Cedia, we have missed you, so glad to have you back. Yes, you are right.

10:39 PM

Blogger Carrie said...

I agree with Cedia. I much prefer that type of communication. Body language is so often overlooked.

6:15 AM

Blogger Sue hardy-Dawson said...

This is so true, the worst is when you say something, realise how it must have sounded, try to dig yourself out of the hole, only to make things worse and then spend the whole of the following day beating yourself up about it.

Of course with really close friends its not a problem cause they know your intentions are pure even if you express it badly.

11:55 AM

Blogger JWM said...

come on over and check out my blog at www.brokenguerilla.blogspot.com

12:30 PM

Blogger Sarah said...


get that out of my mouth!

2:59 PM

Blogger Kimberly said...

this is so me...i never proofread hardly anything i write so it never makes sense, and my keyboard has a letter sticking..the letter 'L' because i sit here and eat chips and crumbs got down in there,so if I dont look, then it's like Im a retard, wel I am but thats not the point i'm trying to make. I guess what I'm saying is that you nailed it on the head Neel :)

5:06 PM

Blogger venus said...

If it is interpreting technical matter, there is a lesser chance of it being mis-interpreted, take for example a tech support, you and her, both are on same page, she knows your context of your communication, which gives less scope of misapprehension. But when you talk about a lexicon which the other person is less aware of, there are chances of dilemma.

With friends or family the only difference is they can also predict you based on their past experiences with you, hence it is easier for them to get your objectivity.

Very good post neel, it was something I could not circumscribe u around before :) u're v good! hope your back is not giving you difficult time anymore.

10:21 AM

Blogger Neel said...

Mitzee, yes...I believe you are both right.

Sue, I know exactly what you are talking about. I really bugs me when that happens and the little voice inside my head keeps repeating it.

JW, I'll be right over.

Sarah, sorry about that, i guess up to my elbow was a bit far.

Kimberly, this might help. Take a cotton swab (q-tip). and clean between the keys on your keyboard. If you are using a desktop keyboard the keys will pop off and pop back on. You can remove the one or ones that are sticking badly and clean them thoroughly, then replace them. Also canned air (such as dust off) can help to clean out all your bits of crips or chips. Good luck and thanks for your comment.

12:33 PM

Blogger Neel said...

Mitzzee, I think its time for some Draino, to get the clog out.

Venus, sorry I missed your post earlier. My back is a bit of a mess and I will post something about that later, thank you for your inquiry. For the most part you are right about the interpretation of a subject which is the topic of conversation however, there are many examples of misinterpretation that can occur in that situation as well, such as an accent, in English and many other languages the same word can have two or more meanings. Thanks for the comment! I will be around to your site shortly.

12:47 PM

Blogger venus said...

No worries Neel, I can understand with your back and so many comments to reply :)

2:52 PM

Blogger JWM said...

I know I'm being redundant but the post friggin' rocks! Well done, sir.

4:12 PM

Blogger Neel said...

Hi Venus, I hope you had a good weekend. Thanks for understanding.

Brokenguerilla, thanks alot! I'll be back by your site soon!

11:30 PM

Blogger Jaxe said...


I am such a sarcastic person, that my posts and emails almost always come out abrasive or ambiguous. You can only use so many icons/emotes to try and clarify what you mean. *sigh* I guess we will just need to adapt... well, unless we all end up with real-time vid-cams attached to us 24/7.

4:00 PM

Blogger Natasha said...

sometimes my grammer is not great, but i dont say stupid things, most of the time..

10:49 PM

Blogger Jason said...

Interesting, dont know if you've heard of Transactional Analysis (Eric Berne Wrote a book called 'Im OK your OK' about it, at least I think it was him, although he is a champion of the movement I think he might have written 'Games people play' anyway...) which looks at people as communicating from three basic levels Parent, Adult and Child (although they have diffrent meanings from what you might think). Perhaps part of the beauty of communicating by text, e-mail etc is the very fact that such bias is lost. All things have their ying and their yang such is life, take the rough with the smooth, let it all slide, it's all gonna go supeee noveee some day anyway. Meanwhile keep looking for the Truth.

11:49 AM


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