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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Is Speech Based on Visibility?

Sitting at a coffee shop, as I oft do, I overheard a girl say, and I quote, "Call me back to see where I am slash what I'm doing."

My immediate thought was to visualize what she was saying, because slash is a verb and made absolutely no sense where it sat in that sentence... It makes sense in the context of reading: "Call me back to see where I am/what I'm doing." Though there are better ways to write this phrase, transcribing verbal queues allows the imperfect compound sentence. (Am I even diagnosing the sentence structure properly?) After rearranging the sentence, I couldn't help wondering "Why wouldn't you just say 'or'?" There were other thoughts placed after that, but insulting the girl wouldn't be beneficial here.

As children, we don't learn to talk based on what we see. Well, I take that back: our visual queues (signifiers) do stimulate words (signifieds, which then turn into signifiers queuing the objects [signifieds])(Oh the vicious circle) once they are learned. But these visuals aren't written words at first. Writing comes later, when understanding of language has already been obtained. Malleability is taught to us throughout our education, especially with English given the many alternate meanings of words: there, their, and they're as an instance.

With this flexibility, we apparently change the language altogether? Which we are, as a culture. We invent words in English (ex: Muggle), assign it meaning, add it to our language, assert it in our dictionaries, and claim it to be real. Now we have a new one, one that I must admit I might have used under certain circumstances in my speech. But...I don't think it deserves commonplace in out tongue.

'Slash' ~ symbolizing 'or' in context of juxtaposed opinions, events, actions, objects, etc. ex: What did they say slash do slash mean?

Would be an odd addition to the definition we recognize for 'slash' as a verb.

Alright...I just looked it up. The bastards:

Printing A virgule:
a short oblique stroke (/) between two words indicating that whichever is appropriate may be chosen to complete the sense of the text in which they occur: The defendant and/or his/her attorney must appear in court. (Courtesy of

However, this does not mean it is a part of verbal language. It would have been more accurate for the girl to say "Call me back to see where I am virgule what I'm doing."

Ok...that just sounds funny...

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