What happens when you talk?

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Let’s define talking as a way to referring to any concept of the reality. Imagine we say nothing. In that case, we can be referring to everything. (Picture a full pie.)

So, our goal in saying words is narrowing the things we can be referring to. By saying “dog,” we go from a full pie to only one slice.

But words aren’t the only way to narrow. There are other elements such as our tone or body-language that influence the stuff we are referring to. The audience or conversation’s context do the same.

So, saying “you’re a dog” can be taken literally, sarcastically, or in other ways depending on the context.

If we take a subset of the elements and change the others, we will probably end with other meaning. That’s something the media does usually: it takes the words and change the context of the conversation.

When two people have two very different contexts, they require more words to refer to a given concept. Analogously, two very close friends can communicate with very few words.

Conclusion 1: When talking, we should think in terms of the others and not in ours.

Ambiguity: When the listener thinks that the speaker is referring to two or more concepts

Redundancy: When the listener thinks the speaker is referring to one thing and the speaker continues talking.

Confusion: When the listener thinks the speaker is referring to one thing and the speaker is referring to other thing.

So, our goal is get out of the ambiguity with the minimum amount of words. Depending on how specific a word is, out leap in that line is larger or smaller. If we say “one man,” the leap is smaller that if we say “John Nash.”

Conclusion 2: It’s better to use specific words than general words.

In reality, this is a stochastic process. For instance, we can be 90% sure that the speaker is referring to “the house of his grandmother,” 5% she is referring to “the house of the grandmother of his husband,” and so on.

In this way, the context sets the initial percentage to each concept. Without saying anything, the listener can know which thing we’re referring to.

As the speaker says words, she is changing those percentages. That’s why saying counterintuitive things takes more words.

As the speaker says more words, he can increase the percentage of one concept while decreasing all the others. The speaker can get close to the 100%, but he can never arrive to the 100%.

From this, we can deduce that there are two ways to communicate a concept: increasing its percentage or decreasing the percentage of all the other concepts except that concept.