What’s the purpose of language?
For the longest time, scientists figured it was simply an advanced means of communication. Grunts evolved into sounds, sounds evolved into words, words evolved into a grammatical structure, and here we are.
But recently, some linguists have questioned the “communication” or “transfer of information” theory of language.
Some linguists have theorized that the entire purpose of spoken language is not communication, but persuasion.
This kind of makes sense. Most of the time when we talk to somebody, we have some kind of intention, conscious or not. When you’re hanging out with your friends, that intentions is to maintain those good emotions.
When you talk to a stranger, you’re not just offering some data. You want them to give you something. Their name, the time, some kind of “buy in” to your ideas. Even if you intend to say nothing other than what a nice day it is, your subconscious intention is to get their agreement.
That’s why we often use “tag questions,” to help this process along.
Nice day, isn’t it?
Boy, sure is hot today, isn’t it?
Wow it sure is cold, isn’t it?
Of course, most of the time we approach somebody we leave our intentions on auto pilot. Generally this means, anything good we get is fine, and so long as avoid anything bad, we consider it a win.
But consider having a conscious intention. One of genuine curiosity. A great way to practice this is next time you’re in a place with a lot of people, just become curious about them.
Avoid the temptation to fill in the blanks. Just look at somebody, and wonder.
What was their childhood like?
What was their favorite toy?
What’s their favorite TV show?
What celebrity would they like to sleep with?
Don’t try and answer these, just practice wondering.
When you begin to approach people with genuine curiosity and interest, you’ll be much better received.
Because when you get out of your head, you’ll find there’s plenty of treasure out there.
Go and find it.