• docschleg

More Love Language

I must have tripped an algorithm with my last article choice because here is another one that just popped up:

The main point of this short article (you should read it) is that there is a complex rule for the order in which we list adjectives (words that modify nouns). "Bizarre" is how it's described in the title, but it is also true. Native English speakers know it's true because it sounds bizarre if you mess up that order. On the other hand, no one (not even me, after reading the article) can describe the rule. We simply know it, or, more specifically, when it's broken, and we instinctively follow the rule.

I spend a considerable amount of time talking with neuro-diverse people about rules that govern social interactions. These rules are incredibly complex, at times, and thus engaging to teach but frustrating to learn. For instance, what is the correct response to the question, "How are you?" Most people respond to this question with an impulsive, "Fine, how are you?" But, interestingly, answering this question literally is actually offputting to people.

"How are you?" is not a question so much as it is a greeting. It's the same as saying, "Top of the morning to you" to someone, only less strange. We engage in dozens or even hundreds of such rule-bound and complex social interactions every day. Most people perform very well in these interactions. Few could explain the rules that govern these interactions, but they will know immediately when someone breaks the rule. They will get a feeling that something is not going right.

One of the beautiful aspects of language and social interactions is their complexity. Even more, most people engage in them almost instinctively. Perhaps this is part of what is so satisfying for most people in social interactions, even simple ones.

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