To forgive is human as well

Human language is full of ambiguity. Is it inherently bad? I don’t think so. Leaving room for further interpretation entails embracing the possibility of misinterpretation and opening up a horizon for further negotiation. This vulnerability to being misunderstood and openness for collaborative meaning-making makes us human, unlike computers and networks pursuing the precise reading of each and every line of a code. (Of course this does not mean that you need to leave room for misunderstanding on purpose.)

In this sense, we language educators need to strike a balance between the emphasis on effective communication and the tolerance for misunderstanding and extended communicative moves. Communicators are not deliverers, packaging information and sending it off; rather, they are interactants and interpreters, who make mistakes, negotiate, settle, and sometimes ‘ignore together.’

Thus placing excessive stress on accuracy alone is symptomatic of a futile desire to escape from this fundamental fact in communication: To err is human; to ‘forgive’ human too.


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