The Foundation of Communication

trees compressed Summit PrepA single slanted word can completely change a sentence. As was discussed in the post about the importance of education, English is the most important subject in school because it enhances our communication skills, both to give and receive information. Doing so effectively is necessary for healthy relationships, succeeding in life, and understanding ourselves and the world.

The following is a small example using italics that demonstrates how understanding language, including its subtleties, is essential. Watch how the meaning changes.

1. I didn’t say that he was annoying.

2. I didn’t say that he was annoying. (Someone else, not me, likely said that he was annoying.)

3. I didn’t say that he was annoying. (Although I didn’t actually say he was annoying, I likely implied that he was.)

4. I didn’t say that he was annoying. (I deny that I said he was annoying but simultaneously imply that I said someone else was annoying.)

5. I didn’t say that he was annoying. (I didn’t use the word “annoying” to describe him, but I imply that I described him with nearly synonymous words or similarly negative ones.)

6. I didn’t say that he was annoying. (If this sentence was spoken, it’s likely that every word would be enunciated, almost as if each word was punching the air. The sentence reads as an emphatic denial, potentially in response to a repeated accusation.)

Just a single slanting word can entirely change the meaning of a sentence. To acquire skill in language, we need to read and write as much as possible. In so doing, we will continue to increase our ability to convey and acquire understanding, for the benefit of ourselves and others.

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