Did Your Ears Hear What Your Mouth Just Said?


Has your own language played tricks with you recently?  I’m talking about those cases when you say something and a second later you realize that people understand something completely different.  It happened to me twice last week, and I thought it’s an interesting topic to write about.

I bought an item for $5 in a store.  Gave the cashier a $20 bill.  She gave me $10 and $5 back.  I said, “Can you, please, give me five dollar bills?”  What do you think I meant and what do you think she heard?  I needed a few one-dollar bills to give someone two dollars.  She thought, I wanted the change in five-dollar bills and gave me three five-dollar bills instead of $10 and $5.  It took me about three attempts to formulate what I wanted unambiguously: “Can you, please, give me five one-dollar bills?”

Now, what do you think is shown in this picture?

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Two couches side-by-side.  Right?  “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”

Taking fragments out of context is another interesting topic.