The paradox of insular language


We often develop slang or codewords to keep the others from understanding what we’re saying. Here’s an example (thanks BK) of the lengths that some are going to be able to take about Chinese politics.

Of course, if you come up with a concealed enough code, the people you’re talking to won’t have a clue what you mean. If it’s in the language, it must be shared. This was the problem with the Cone of Silence, used by Maxwell Smart to have top secret conversations with the Chief. It worked so well, the Chief couldn’t hear him.

Language only works when other people know what you’re saying, but once they know, it’s likely that the others can figure it out.

So why bother?

It turns out that vernacular elevates those that are using it as much as it isolates the ones who don’t understand it.

When we speak as insiders, we become insiders.

A practical way to create tribal affiliation is to amplify insular language.


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