Different generations in the same country speak different “languages”? Sounds impossible, but it is indeed the case. Consider situations in which your mother does not understand what you say to your classmates, situations in which you cannot figure out what your mother refers by a simple abbreviation and situations in which your father cannot reflect your undertone of some words. Different generations speak different “languages”, causing conflicts and misunderstandings.
According to the passage “What can words do and cannot do”, words have denotative meanings and connotation meanings. Denotative meanings are meanings defined by the dictionary, which cause little misunderstandings. On the other hand, connotative meanings are associated with personal experiences and are likely to cause conflicts. But in the context of communication between different generations, there are both likely to evoke misunderstandings.
Some connotative meanings of words are so widely recognized by a certain generation or group of people, that they consider these meanings as denotative meanings. But these meanings are unknown to other groups and are not included in the dictionary. The word, “net”, for example, may mean “a trap made of netting to catch fish or birds or insects” in your grandfather’s dictionary but means “a computer network consisting of a worldwide network of computer networks that use the TCP/IP network protocols to facilitate data transmission and exchange” when you talk to your friends meet on the “net”. From this aspect, language of different generations do differ in the conception of words.
Different generations may be confused by denotative meanings, not to mention by connotative meanings. “The connotative meaning of a word is the associations and overtones people bring to it. …When we hear a word, the thoughts and feelings we have about that word and about the person using it determine what that word ultimately means to us. ” (“What can words do and cannot do”,Weaver, Understanding Interpersonal Communication, pp. 230-333 ) Consider the word “news” perceived by different generations. Your grandfather may reflect news as titles in printed newspaper or radio messages while your father form in his head the television correspondent and you, a teenager thinks of web-sites. These difference in language is brought by the development of social and technology.
Words and phrases have their life cycle, there are times when certain words and expressions thrive and time when they die. It is not uncommon that older generations tend to use words, phrases and expressions that are seldom used by younger generation. Moreover, young people have the tendency to make expressions short. For example, instead of saying “good morning”, they say “morning”, instead of “lots of laughs”, they type “LOL” and so on. So next time when talking to your grandmother, use less abbreviations.
Difference languages spoken by different generations giving rise to unavoidable misunderstanding, so bearing in mind that different person has varied perception of words and may not understand what you mean. Don’t be bothered to interpret in detail what you mean to be fully understood by other generations.
Courtney from Study Moose
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