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A Conversation with My Head (Updated Version)

Dogs bark.

Chickens cluck.

Cows moo.

 

And how do you know that? You know because someone has told you so. You might know what the animals do, but you don’t know what to call their actions. If you think about it, someone would have to come up with names for these actions. Then by repeating them enough times, people believe that it is normal for animals to do these actions. Imagine hearing someone says:

Dogs moo.

Chickens bark.

Cows cluck.

What would you think? Perhaps like this: “Ey, you there!!! You get it all wrong. Dogs don’t moo, cows don’t cluck, and chickens don’t bark!” 

You think that person is wrong, because it is not right. It is not what everyone has agreed upon. But to some people, your normal seems strange. In this world, there is a small portion of the population that can’t hear, see, or speak.

“So?”

 –you may ask.The mute doesn’t speak. The blind doesn’t see. And the deaf doesn’t hear.

Why say such obvious things?”

Because that means if the mute knew cows moo, they could say it. The blind can hear “mooooooooo” yet, could they have known cows do that? The deaf can only see the cows’ mouth moving, but they would hear no thing.

“What are you getting at?”

–Well, language is a way of communicating. It seems normal. It seems easy. But it is an extremely complicated and complex system. It’s not just sound. And it’s not for everyone.

Have you ever ask a child to describe something to you?

Or have you ever played the game Taboo?

Or have you ever walked into a very dark room, and try to navigate yourself without knowing what is in front of you?

Sometimes, language consists more than just words. They are actions, motions, guesses, and whole bunch of other things.

“You are boring!”

Okay, then let’s play a game with me. See if you can win. I will blindfold you, and then I will ask someone to give you something (maybe an object). You will have to describe it to me. I will guess what it is. No peeping.

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Ready?–“Yes”–Okay, begin!

“Hmmm. I don’t know. This feels cold. Not too heavy. Uhm. Maybe plastic?”

–You need to be more specific!

“I’m trying. Let’s see! You can open it up. There is glass. A rubber part. Some buttons. Can you guess what it is? I think I know what this is.”

You can’t tell me. Your job is to describe, my job is to guess.

What do you think this is?

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Okay, let’s move on to the next game. I am still blindfolding you, but I will walk you into one of my rooms. You will have to guess what room you are in, and try to navigate yourself out. I will be watching! Ready?

“Shouldn’t be that hard! Let’s do this!”

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“Woa. This is dark. Ouch! I think I just hit a table. Wait! This isn’t a table. What is this. Hmm. Glass. Is it a mirror? Wait, there is something next to it. Fluffy, smell good. Is this your closet?”

 

No, no, you are not in my closet! You won’t even have space to move in there, let alone walking around. C’mon. Explore!

 

“I know what this is. This is small enough to be a picture frame. Hmm. Drawers. What are those? Sleek. Ahhh. Books. Must be your shelves. OUCH! I just hit something again. Seems like heavy metal. Table? Rough surface. Cold. Do you have a safe in here?”

–Nah. I don’t have much to put in a safe. I think a box under my bed is good enough. You are such a chicken. You only move a few feet and already whining.

“Why don’t you try this? It’s not easy to walk blind!”

–Now, you see what I mean about the blind. You can’t quit yet. Do a better job!

“Who said anything about quitting? I can hear a clock ticking. That clock is somewhere behind me. Ah, a rug.”

How do you know it’s a rug?

“Well, it feels soft on my feet, and not cold like when we were out there on the tiles. Plus, this doesn’t feel harsh like a doormat. What else you put on the floor that could feel like this?”

I don’t know, maybe my sleeping bag? It feels just like you describe. Anyways, so can you tell me yet what room you are in?

“I think so. It’s…”

What do you think the room is?

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Now you see what I mean? Even for a person like you, when your sight is limited, you still had a hard time figuring things out yourself, let alone letting someone to understand you. You can speak. You can use words to describe what things feel like to you. You rely on me knowing the same things to figure out what you say. But not everyone is like that. Sometimes what you see is not what I see. You see blue, but I don’t see that shade of color because where I stand would get a different reflection of light. Language is not absolute. Like everything else. Nothing is absolute. So the next time, you hear me say I hear my dog moos. Don’t laugh! Maybe that’s what the dogs do. They moo. And somewhere in the course of history of language, we just end up associate “mooing” with cows.

You know, maybe. Just maybe. Like I said, nothing in this world is absolute.

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