Ambiguity: Friend or Foe
Often times during our earlier years, we stumble upon ‘loopholes’ within our language. We then take these ‘loopholes’ and mend them to our advantage. These ‘loopholes’ that I am referring to are words that have many different meanings, however actions can also be grouped into this. Much like the cartoon, “Future MBA” illustrated by Mike Shapiro.
In this cartoon you see two students sitting at their desks, both with paper and pencil on the desk. The teacher is standing in front of them and one can only be brought to the assumption that these children were either taking a test or doing an assignment that was meant to be finished solo. However, this cartoon depicts that these students did not follow those instructions by giving us the text, “We weren’t cheating. We were consulting.” With this text we are given that the children are looking for a way out of punishment by re-characterizing their obvious but ambiguous actions by altering what the teachers perception of it was with that of something that is not detestable, although rather questionable. Cheating is the sharing of answers or ideas that one person may have and is given to another. With the idea that there was no cheating or answer exchanging going on but rather discussing possible outcomes, or consulting in this case, these children are trying to pose the idea that they have done no wrong.
This happens more often than you would think. Unfortunately, when these do occur it is not always in a less harmful situation such as a classroom setting over a test or assignment. This often happens in large business and even our government. Through the use of euphemisms you take a word that is particularly disliked and exchange it with a word that has more appeal. On the news for example when there are times of war and there are casualties. The word casualties take the place of saying “four women, seven children, and six men were killed’. It can be used in this scenario where emotions could get the better of the situation and cause an uproar. However, is this right? Has our language helped us or betrayed us by making it so easy to cleverly deceive our minds from what is really going on? Then again, in situations it can help ease the pain of loosing a loved one, and explaining it to a child. For instance, instead of telling a child that their father was decapitated in a car crash and is dead, we can tell the child that their father has passed away. In this case it is our ally.
It is hard to determine whether something of this magnitude is beneficial or ultimately malicious. I can see both sides of this, but you cannot get rid of one without the other. They are two sides of the same coin. The only thing I can leave with you is that you cannot have the use of one without the other. However, I can tell you that you have to choose how to use this. Personally, I choose to use this for the greater good not to deceive others or try to confuse them about what is really going on.
Shapiro, Mike. “Future MBA” Reading Literature and Writing Argument. Pearson Education, Inc, 2008.