Becoming Too Comfortable with Ambiguity.

Language creates a certain amount of ambiguity and if you disagree read a few words that seem to have no english equivalent.

This is the dance that occurs somewhere between something being unclear and vague and when something is ambiguous and could have multiple intended meanings.  Somewhere in there is a clarity that leads to action.

  1. Rhwe. Tsonga, South Africa – College kids, relax. There’s actually a word for “to sleep on the floor without a mat, while drunk and naked.”
  2. Ya’aburnee. Arabic – This word means “You bury me,” a declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person because of how difficult it would be to live without them.
  3. L’appel du vide. French – “The call of the void” is this French expression’s literal translation, but more significantly it’s used to describe the instinctive urge to jump from high places.
  4. Zeg. Georgian – It means “the day after tomorrow.” Seriously, why don’t we have a word for that in English?

Ambiguity Defined.

Ambiguity is usually defined as something that is uncertain or lacking in exactness specifically  in regards to the meaning in language.

Too Comfortable with Ambiguity leads to a ridiculously impractical and nonsensical life.

If you are unwilling to challenge any idea on its actual meaning I am free to draw any conclusion that my mind can fathom of the two options and sends me into an infinite regression of questions…or you are so hampered by your vagueness that I do not know whether YOU even know what you’re talking about.

  • “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” – FDR.
  • “You’ll have to speak up, I’m wearing a towel” – Homer Simpson
  • “Help Wanted” – any small business.

Too Rigid with Ambiguity leads to a narrow and limiting interpretation of language. 

If you are looking for a simplistic definition you probably live with a pretty narrow perspective.  This means this….and that means that….and I will never see it any other way.   We exclude certain conclusions because they just don’t seem to fit in our previous understanding of a certain idea or term.  We see the world in black and white terms and as a result cannot fathom that hazy world in between the two.  In our world it doesn’t exist.

Which side of the spectrum to you see yourself on and do you have room to change or are you trying to help others see the world from your vantage point?


8 thoughts on “Becoming Too Comfortable with Ambiguity.

  • David – the best example I see of ambiguity is the overuse of “this” “that” “those” – as in “can you pass those to me, no – not those, THOSE” Riiiight.

    Serious conflict can arise from ambiguity – your post is a good reminder to be specific!

    • hahaha, JOHN! Love it man your examples are hilarious because I can hear myself using that language all the time. Instead of instantly responding a great follow up question always helps to bring clarity 🙂

  • I learned some new words today.
    I think your comfortability with ambiguity is dependent on a lot of factors, primarily the likelihood that you’ll be misinterpreted and the extent of the consequences if you are misinterpreted. A text message to your friend is different from a theological discussion, which is different from testifying by a court.

    • hahaha, love it man thanks 🙂 It seems to me that language is complex and enjoyable to arrive at clarity but we seem content to leave things ambiguous — thanks Loren always love your thoughts dude

  • When you cross over into another culture/language you’ll find that ambiguity is taken to a whole new level. I’ve found that in general Americans like to be more precise with their language. Often that can come across as rude to a Ukrainian.

    There are also certain ways to communicate that for me see very ambiguous but for the average Ukrainian it is crystal clear. Like the time the policeman stopped me for speeding and then asked me if I had any “suggestions”. That seemed ambiguous to me but in context it was very clear.

    • ahahahahah suggestions!!! that is hilarious but I am guessing in context makes perfect sense- feels like experiencing another culture helps see that ambiguity a lot clearer and helps us get a better picture of the scriptures. THanks for the your thoughts cable and truly praying for your 9.

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