Our language only becomes possible through its non-precision. Think of the Eskimos who, evidently, have hundreds of words for the different kinds of snow they deal with every day. That is possible for them as they probably have only one word for all the green stuff that you eat – vegetable.
Now, imagine that beside these hundreds of words for snow they would have hundreds of words in other specialized areas like screws, auto parts, fruits, colors, etc. These poor Eskimos would have to have a vocabulary of hundreds of thousands of words and would spend their whole life learning them all and never get anything meaningful done.
This is why we need abstraction in our vocabulary. If I go into a hardware store I can ask for the department were I can find screws. Once there I can inquire for a more specific screw and actually look and see what I need. In comparison, imagine if I would have to ask at the front desk for the ardangwut, which is a metal bolt with a core diameter of 3.65mm, a thread depth of 0.43mm and a thread angle of 3.1 degrees (kidding, there is no ardangwut) – without having the word screw I would be screwed.
And now we to look at the other side of the coin in regards to abstraction – hilarious (which has not really anything to do with Hillary – or does it?) mix-ups! Especially in the area of sexuality and genitalia so much abstraction has been introduced that things that look only remotely – very remotely – similar, are called the same. Think of wiener, nuts and balls, and, yes, screwing.
Following some dramatic stories demonstrating, that too much abstraction in this arena may seriously backfire…
I walked into a hair salon with my husband and three kids in tow and asked loudly, ‘How much do you charge for a shampoo and a blow job?’ I turned around and walked back out and never went back My husband didn’t say a word… he knew better.
Or this story about a female golf player…
I was at the golf store comparing different kinds of golf balls. I was unhappy with the women’s type I had been using.
After browsing for several minutes, I was approached by one of the good-looking gentlemen who works at the store.
He asked if he could help me. Without thinking, I looked at him and said, ‘I think I like playing with men’s balls.’
A tale from the candy store…
My sister and I were at the mall and passed by a store that sold a variety of candy and nuts. As we were looking at the display case, the boy behind the counter asked if we needed any help. I replied, ‘No, I’m just looking at your nuts.’ My sister started to laugh hysterically. The boy grinned, and I turned beat-red and walked away. To this day, my sister has never let me forget.
It even happens on TV to the anchor woman and weatherman…
What happens when you predict snow but don’t get any! We had a female news anchor that, the day after it was supposed to have snowed and didn’t, turned to the weatherman and asked: ‘So Bob, where’s that 8 inches you promised me last night?’ Not only did HE have to leave the set, but half the crew did too – they were laughing so hard!