The mind is a wonderful thing. As the language parts of our brain form, creating links between the synapses and dendrites, we also are forming archetypes for words and ideas as we go. It seems like every few months I get an email or a slew of people post the same thing on Facebook.
If you can read this you have a strong mind: TH15 M3554G3 53RV35 TO PR0V3 H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N D0 4M4Z1NG TH1NG5! 1MPR3551V3 TH1NG5! 1N TH3 B3G1NN1NG 1T WA5 H4RD BUT NOW, ON TH15 LIN3 YOUR M1ND 1S R34D1NG 1T 4UT0M4T1C4LLY W1TH OUT 3V3N TH1NK1NG 4B0UT 1T, B3 PROUD! 0NLY C34RT41N P30PL3 C4N R3AD TH15. R3 P05T 1F U C4N
I imagine that most people can read this paragraph. As we learn more words, our brains try to make it more efficient to read and communicate. Archetypes of words are formed using the key letters that make the word understandable quickly. If you notice, this paragraph is made even easier to read because the numeral chosen are similar in shape to the letters they replace. I think it was overkill, but perhaps they wanted everyone to feel more intelligent by making it easier.
The same process seems to occur with our hearing. We tend to finish words when we aren’t able to hear the whole word. Sometimes we are assisted by watching the lips of a person speaking, sometimes by context, and sometimes because we’ve heard the damn story 100 times and we just know how it goes. Some of the best laughs have come from some of those occasions. One of my close relatives is diagnosed with depression. One day she was telling me she was melancholy. I heard “Melon calling”. We laughed until we cried. To this day if one of us seems a bit down the other may break into calling out “Melon, Melon”.
Pay attention to people when they sing along with songs on the radio. My Husband is notorious for making up parts of a song, the musician or anything he wasn’t sure about, but has worked them into stone over time. I find new ones all the time. My most recent favorite one is an old blues song called “Honeybee”. We were in the car coming home one night and he “dedicated” that song to me and began to sing along with the song. I noticed some differences in what he was singing and the song was relating. I asked him first off if he realized the person singing was a woman. That seemed to be a surprise to him. I then began to point out why the lyrics were appropriate to a female singer unless the musician was gay and singing about his partner’s stinger. I giggled to myself, but we listened to different songs the rest of the way home. I guess I burst his balloon.
One of my favorite stories is from a trip to the grocery store. I was working in a home where three women with developmental disabilities lived. Once a week, we would go grocery shopping. One of the women was in her seventies and said little most of the time. She had been institutionalized by the age of two and had a diminished IQ. We were walking down the aisle and all of a sudden she began yelling “Penis, Penis!” Once she got started it was difficult to get her to stop. She was in the middle of the aisle, at parade rest, and she would fling her head back each time as if to enunciate the word. My first response was to be embarrassed and wonder what people are thinking! Although, being a bit smarter than the average bear, I started putting things together. We were in the dry goods aisle. What do you find in that aisle? Pasta, box mixes, and BEANS! Some of the beans look like? PEANUTS! What does it sound like when you shout peanuts with loose enunciation? PENIS!!! Whew! Problem solved. “Yes, Flo, they do look like PEANUTS!” Saying that loud and proud, we went on with our shopping in a G rated manner.
Yes, our brain is a marvelous thing. A dangerous thing. A funny thing. I would love to hear stories of how you or your “friends” have mis-heard, mis-seen, and mis-spoken!