I was on the phone to a friend a few years back. ‘It was bespoke’ he said. ‘Have you just learned a new word?’ I asked. Yes he had. There’s something about the newly learned word that it becomes a favourite, crowbarred in, or given that little extra inflection. So my question is, where do the boundries lie for the assumptions we make about what other people do and don’t know? When finding out about a new subject, how much can you assume the other person will know intrigues me. Of course this is mostly because I don’t want to look like an arse. And adding a further layer, in an industry or organization, how quickly we forget what the ‘in’ words are, that only exist in the sector, or even room that you work in…. and are utter clap-trap to everybody else.
A few times I have assumed someone didn’t know the word I just learned, only to get slammed down with an ‘I know what an advertorial/echo location/pozi-drive is’. Alas on the other end of the spectrum there are the times you take for granted that some lingo is generally understood only to look like a pompous twat.
And it’s not just words either; it’s whole areas of knowledge. Ok, so I often hark back to my home-education: was any of this (doubt) spawned from the fact that I wasn’t learning the same as everyone else, whilst they were – on the most part – all learning the same stuff? That’s not in any way an excuse, just an ‘I don’t know what everyone else knows’ kind of thought.
Waaaay back in 2000, I took a boy from my Plato lectures - that I was vaguely seeing - back to meet a friend. He was an American skater type; I must have thought that was cool, that he was cool. He sat about spouting pub-philosophy to the wrong audience, pseudo-Socrates ‘I know what I don’t know’. But to bastardise this further, my problem here is the opposite: I don’t know what you do know.
So to quote Voltaire: ‘If you wish to converse with me, define your terms’ and everything else please, I won’t be offended.
Do you know what I mean?