Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Art of Language

Fog in English Bay, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2009 

Sarcasm: Noun. The use of irony to mock or convey contempt. 
More on this word from wikipedia

Irony: Noun. The expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect. 
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While recognized as literary tools, perhaps these could be known as massive bombshells of misunderstanding. 

This is what I am thinking. One has to be an extraordinary communicator in order to know where and when to pepper one's speech with irony. I have seen it used perfectly in poetry, fiction and dramatic writing; however, it is a rare phenomenon to experience its effectiveness in oral communication. In fact, personally, I have no use for sarcasm and find I only use it when backed into a corner and resort to it in retaliation. I always feel disappointed in myself afterwards. 

When used in workplace communications or any relationships where there is an imbalance of perceived power, the results can be disastrous. Consider when and how to use these tools - learn about them. Have you walked away from conversations wondering why someone would say something so unkind to you, only to find out years later, that somehow they were using a failed attempt at irony or sarcasm, alleging an absence of harmful intent? For in truth, all comedy and irony bears a weight of truth and is often used out of fear of the results of straightforward, clear communication.

In our world, language is changing rapidly, particularly with the use of technology. The art of written and spoken communication is in continuous flux. Perhaps this speed and offhandedness with which we can communicate might give us more pause to consider that which we say in advance of blurting. I am trying, though sometimes failing, to use clear and kind communication rather than irony and definitely in place of sarcasm. It isn't always easy but I want to ensure that people aren't walking away from me hurt or confused by a glib, thoughtless remark I have made.

Awareness. Intention. Kindness. Clarity. Let these words guide our path of communication. Do not let fear dictate our words and result in bitter strikes. Indeed, the pen is mightier than the sword but can wound as effectively. 

I suppose what is rather silly here is that I am simply saying something most of our parents taught us when we first formulated speech, "Think before you speak."

I wish you all a beautiful week filled with joyous, kind interactions that ripple out across the world. Thank you for taking the time to read this article.

-Gillian Cornwall, June 11, 2017
Original post date, July 14, 2013

Gillian Cornwall, c. 2009

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