Well I’m getting somewhere with my language analysis:
One of the things I’ve been focusing on is called aphasia, or a misunderstanding of language, though after reading some of the research it’s not clear who exactly has the ‘miss understanding’.
Take for instance spelling and grammar nazzis, is their inability to interpret the language of another an outward sign of Aphasia or is it the person who made the grammatical and spelling errors who has the Aphasia and does it even matter?
In Autsim aphasia commonly presents itself as pragmatic, that is, not correct in context, hyperlexia is also domantly associated with Autism. Hyperlexia is the opposite of dyslexia, in that people with hyperlexia have an abnormal ability when it comes to reading, writing and construction/spelling of words. On the other hand people with dyslexia have deficits in those areas. Conversely and kind of paradoxicly at face value people with hyperlexia often have difficulty understanding words where as people with dyslexia often have greater ability in word comprehension. But if you look at the situation analytically you could say that hyperlexics may just be more pedantic about word use and dyslexics less perdantic.
Classical pragmatic aphasia manifests as something like: a literal interpritation of colloquial language, such as ‘raining cats and dogs’; and I make similar errors myself…. I do tend to find, however, that once explained (to myself or to other people I know) that the situation, even if it’s outlandish and taken as offensive, resolves very quickly. This is an indicator that it’s not ‘lack of ability’ to understand, just missinterpritation of context, on the other hand, although I know I make those kind of mistakes I keep making them… in that sense although I have insight I never ‘learn’ / remember.
There’s also an association with pragmatic aphasia and people with damage to the right brain and indeed people on the autistic spectrum are more ‘left’ brained, but you wouldn’t call them ‘brain damaged’
What about grammar nazzis? Well I expect a majority of at least British people have heard of the book ‘eats shoots and leaves’ and you know, I very much doubt that that many people actually thought that the panada ate something, shot someone then left the building. Also grammar is both fluid, in that it’s very flexible in the English language, and certainly spoken language doesn’t come with a great degree punctuation. The same can be said of spelling to a degree, spelling certainly used to be very fluid and english isn’t exactly methodical, even the one spelling rule, ‘i before e except after c is the sound is ee’ has so many exceptions that it’s totally useless. More over, even with my hirendious spelling, people usually know what I mean…. So do grammar and spelling nazzis actually have a type of Aphasia like people with hyperlexia have? an Aphasia of syntax and phonetics?
There’s also another kind of aphasia found in people with disorders related to psychopathy, semantic Aphasia. I’m sure you’ve all come across them, the people that argue semantics, the meaning of words, until they are blue in the face, with no room for manovour. Some researchers say that people with the condition mearly parrot words with no understanding of the actual meaning, though I’d say it’s more complex than that, though it’s exceptionally rare that you actually find someone with the condition who actually explain how, what, why they are thinking what they are thinking, and without that….well quick observation can give little more than a stab in the dark….. An exteam example of semantic aphasia can be found in google translate, which does literally just parrot what other people have said, without even the basic attempt at understanding it… if you translate from English to Russian and back again you get some rather interesting results.
Noam Chomsky, the father of modern linguistics, believed that semantics are ‘hard wired’ into the brain… I think semantic aphasia shows otherwise, as it’s not that uncommon (possibly upto 1 in 25 people or more have some variant of it, and we all make mistakes from time to time), but something I’m going to look at is a language that they teach to people who are both deaf and blind from birth, and so has neither aural or visual cuing.
It is also possible, like in the ‘grammar nazzi’ or ‘hyperlexia’ examples that aphasia is broadly diametric: ‘If only you where to explain yourself properly I would be able to understand you’
Anyhow, the research I’ve been doing digs a little deeper than just aphasia and hopefully should turn up something much more specific about the way in which the misunderstandings happen and indeed a relation to underlying neurology. But I believe that from an understanding of how we do not understand it is possible to understand each other better and indeed show exactly how we do understand.