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I know what I mean

I know what I mean, I just can’t say what I know.

Guildenstern : “Has it ever happened to you that, all of a sudden and for no reason at all, you haven’t the faintest idea how to spell the word — wife — or house — because when you write it down you just can’t remember ever having seen those letters in that order before…?”

This happens to me quite frequently actually and I do not believe it can all be blamed on the mere fact that I cannot, for the life of me, spell! (Thank the sweet heavens for Spell Check…really!)

Similarly, what exactly is happening when your brain is formulating words, but your mouth simply won’t say them, either correctly or in the proper sequence, so that you end up muttering something completely unlike what you are trying to articulate? The urban slang for this phenomenon is spoonerism, which, to me, sounds more like a made up word itself than a scientific explanation of what is going on, but to define it more accurately it is to switch the first letters of two adjacent words so that you end up saying “Eatings, Girthlings!” rather than “Greetings, Earthlings!” or, perhaps something more familiar like “The Fit hit the Shan.” (Which usually happens after you inadvertently utilize a spoonerism.)

I find it rather amazing how difficult it is, at times, to actually communicate (effectively). Either my mouth won’t say what my brain wants it to, or my mouth can’t quite keep up (imagine that!), or my mouth is going, but my brain hasn’t quite engaged (be nice, now!) or sometimes neither mouth nor brain knows what to do so I end up sitting there, agape, with that quintessential deer-in-the-headlights expression. Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience? (You have, I know you have, don’t deny it)

It’s often equally challenging to simply get your meaning across. You might say one thing, but your meaning may, for whatever reason, become entirely misconstrued, muddled, and otherwise, mangled. This happens a lot in my afore-referenced favourite movie, so I can think of no better way to illustrate this point but to share the following:

Rosencrantz: Do you think Death could possibly be a boat?
Guildenstern: No, no, no… death is not. Death isn’t. Take my meaning? Death is the ultimate negative. Not-being. You can’t not be on a boat.
Rosencrantz: I’ve frequently not been on boats.
Guildenstern: No, no… what you’ve been is not on boats.

There are turns of phrase, double-entendre’s, verbal faux pas, slips of the tongue, jargon, slang, rhetoric, and a thousand other languages to contend with, so how do we, at the end of the day, truly understand each other? Is it our words alone? Is it grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and diction that makes anything we say comprehensible? Or is it a common sense of mutual passions, fears, intrigues, loves, hates, sorrows, losses, likes, dislikes, cravings, yearnings, wants and needs that fill in all the blanks left by every other devise we utilize to convey our thoughts?

Guildenstern: I think I have it: A man talking sense to himself is no madder than a man talking nonsense not to himself.
Rosencrantz: Or just as mad.
Guildenstern: Or just as mad.
Rosencrantz: And he does both.
Guildenstern: So there you are.
Rosencrantz: Stark, raving sane.

Some may talk too much and others not enough, but at the end of the day isn’t it simply a Miracle that we are able to communicate and, as a result, commune with each other at all?



Quotes from: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
Image of The Rosetta Stone found at: .bbc.co.uk