To make common, to share to a common whole

Posted in Uncategorized by Vikram on April 1, 2011

Communication, from the latin communicare, meaning to share, divide out, or impart, and further from the Latin communis, meaning in common, not pretentious, shared by all or many.  So, does the “sharing” in this definition refer to information we impart and share with others, or does it refer to a shared understand of language, of denotation?  Well, in order to do the former, the latter is required.   Incidentally, and quite apparently, “communication” shares a root with many other words, such as common, community and commodity.

Regardless, we can trace communication even further back – to ko-moin-i which is a Proto-Indo-European word meaning “held in common, shared by all”, which I think is a wonderful definition, and concept.

In a way, we’ve already communicated with each other without saying a word.  We’re drawing from a pool that we all have in common to impart information to each other.  That is to say, we have a shared understanding of the language we use, and at any given moment we can utilize this shared understanding to impart information.

However, each person is looking at this pool from a different angle; therefore each word represents something slightly different to each person.  We each take our own meaning because we are own people, by virtue of both our physiological and psychological makeup.

Each of us claim that we see the pool of common understanding in the correct way – often, the only correct way.  “I understand our understanding more correctly” is the twisted logic that fills the sails of this belief.

The panacea to this quagmire is neither acquiescence nor obstinacy (yeah allow me to be self-indulgent occasionally, I love words so very much).  It is something far more challenging.  It is the endeavour in deducing meaning from what is, in many ways, another language: the way another understands words.

I’ve touched on this point many times before, but over and over again it reveals itself as the prime motivator behind disagreement and misunderstanding.  Understand what another person understands before defending what you believe.

Language is a common good.  It is a part of all of us, yet it is also incredibly individual.  This paradoxical dynamic is a beautiful concept, one that transcends what we know and believe of language.  Honestly, language is a magical creation that truly does not receive its just deserves.

Maybe that’s why I made this blog.  Maybe I just like communicating.