“To everyone and anyone who was in any way involved in my husband’s passing, a heartfelt thank you.”
A good example of how, if you’re not careful what you say, your message can be interpreted in a way entirely different than what you had intended.
Another illustration: Recently What’s Her Name and I, along with another 50 tourists, took a short boat trip on the Colorado River in Utah. Our guide was a comedian, as are most tourist attraction guides. As part of his routine, before we started on the ride, he took advantage of how statements can be interpreted in more than one way.
“For your safety,” he said as he held up a life jacket, “I want you to know we have a life jacket for every one of you.” Then after a long pause, he said, “This is it!”
IN ADDITION, to communicate effectively in speech, the pauses in narration, and in writing (commas), need to be in the proper place.
A panda walked into a restaurant, ate a meal, and then shot a gun into the air as he exited. “What’s the big idea?!” the proprietor angrily asked.
“Just look at the title of this book for explanation of what pandas do,” said the panda, as he handed him a book entitled, Eats, Shoots, and Leaves.” The true meaning of the phrase had been completely altered by the addition of two commas, (pauses). It was instead of course meant to describe a panda’s diet, “Eats shoots and leaves.”
“Save a part of every paycheck,” said a Jackson, Mississippi TV announcer. “Save for the better things in life——a home, a trip abroad, or a new car.” The only problem: he placed a pause in the wrong place. So, what he said was——”……a home, a trip, a broad, or a new car.”
“The ladies of the Night Circle will meet next Tuesday at 7:00,” announced a member during a meeting of our church board. Except she paused at the wrong moment, so what came out was, “The ladies of the Night (pause) Circle will meet……..”
When did we start a new ministry for ‘ladies of the night?’” I couldn’t resist asking her. And:
“Lobster tail and beer,” read the sign outside a tavern. “Begorra, me t’ree favorite t’ings!” said O’Reilly when he saw the sign.
“I APPRECIATE the book you gave me,” wrote a journalist friend when I sent him a copy of a book I had written. “I shall waste no time reading it.” I was of course pleased to hear that he intended to read the book immediately. Until it dawned on me that what he might have been saying instead, was that he wasn’t going to waste his time reading it. Statements like this that can have dual meanings are another source of miscommunication.
“I’ve always wondered, what is the correct pronunciation of the name of your state,” a tourist said to a gentleman in Honolulu. “Is it ‘Ha—Wah—ee’, or is it ‘Ha—Vah—hee?’”
“It’s ‘Ha—Vah—ee,’” he replied
“Thank you so much” said the tourist.
Demonstrating that foreign accents pose another peril in understanding messages.
“Is this better or worse?” I once asked a gentleman who hailed from Europe, as I added a stronger lens while doing an eye examination on him..
“It’s better,” he said. Then I became thoroughly confused as I continued adding stronger lenses which I knew had to blur his vision, and he kept saying, “That’s better.”
“Do you mean that each time I add a stronger lens it makes the eye chart look clearer?” I asked incredulously.
“No, no, no!” he said. “I keep telling you it’s getting badder!”
THE ENGLISH language can be strange at times, which can lead to some weird logic.:
“I am a nobody.
Nobody is perfect.
Therefore I am perfect.”
Lastly, you’ll usually get in trouble if you’re not consistent in what you say. As exemplified by the story about the lady driver who stopped for a stoplight, and noticed the car ahead had a bumper sticker which read, “Honk if you love Jesus.” So she honked.
“Quit honking, you old biddy,” hollered the lady in the car with the bumper sticker. “Can’t you see the light is red?!”
Jack Runninger of Rome is a retired optometrist and state and national award-winning humor columnist. His most recent book, “Funny Female Foibles,” is available now. Readers may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.