I’m a logophile. I love words and their meanings. I also enjoy learning about people and why they believe the things they do.
Those things sometimes make a nifty combination.
When I express myself well, it can be a pretty amazing thing. When I have the time and the energy and desire, I can understand a great many things from others’ wording and use my own to convey ideas clearly – tailored specifically to my audience even! During these times, I can manage rather well with written one-on-one chats or somewhat homogenous group chats.
I blend in quite well when communicating primarily with the written word. Part of this is because I was homeschooled for most of my pre-college years by someone who is also a logophile, or lover of words. Another part was being hyperlexic and learning to read around the same time I learned how to speak, which meant that words took on a distinct solidity in my mind.
I was taught from a very young age that wording matters. Every placement and choice of a word or punctuation mark is different and conveys different meanings. Every word has a specific meaning that adds multiple layers of depth to conversations. That is a difference I can remember, see, hear, and comprehend.
That is the language I speak. I translate images into very specific words and I do it fairly well.
But in some ways, my often adroit written words do me a disservice.
Because when I express myself poorly, as is unavoidable since I become worn down from constantly analyzing every word I say, it’s unexpectedly bad and extremely discouraging.
Now, weary, I can barely manage to get across a coherent thought of my own, let alone try and ensure that those who are listening will understand my actual meaning.
The vast discrepancy between my best-case abilities vs my worst-case abilities sometimes leads to assumptions being made about my motivations. Surely someone who can express themself well at one time wouldn’t make such horrible miscalculations accidentally at other times? Right? Surely I’m being either deliberately obtuse or offensive!
But that assumption couldn’t be more incorrect.
At the best of times I’m very deliberate about choosing words. I enjoy learning what different words mean to different communities and then I can utilize them most effectively when communicating with people from those groups or who express similar values and beliefs to those groups.
At the worst of times I’ll suddenly find myself trapped in the middle of a vast misunderstanding without realizing how I got there and lacking the ability to get out of it.
It probably seems to others that I get hung up a great deal on semantics or what wording is used during heated conversations. I’m trying not to do that as much, but to me words are solid and contain specific meanings that are inseparable from the words themselves. Word choices are often everything when it comes to my understanding.
Context is also vital, but to some degree that’s solid as well. Certain contexts are a bit more fluid, but the words always remain constant to me, even so.
Trying to process potential meanings from fleeting things complicates my process beyond belief. Words are solid to me while a look, a glance, a raised tone are but memories unreliably recalled at the very best of times. We won’t even talk about the more numerous times when I don’t notice or understand those communications in the first place.
I was never taught that any of those had more than a tangential role in the drama of communicating with other humans.
And how could they? They are ephemeral things.
To me there’s no lasting effect, no substance to looks, glances, tones, or any of the other non-verbal communications that are considered to be so important to the allistics in my life.
I have more to say about this and here’s the link to the next part!