Our unconscious minds do not process words, which are far too cumbersome and limited. They process meaning, which originates with stimulation and then moves from Recognition to Evaluation, Reaction and Storage...and what we store are memories, knowledge, understanding, beliefs, values and reactions. But the only way we can accurately convey meaning to others is with words, but they only convey what the words mean, not the complete meaning intended by them...because the meaning of words are limited to not only their established definitions, they are also limited to the speaker's understanding of that word.

With enough time and effort, we can do an adequate job conveying meaning to others, but the more precise a word's meaning has, the more can be convey with a single word...and for people who don't want to take the time to talk or listen, those words help convey meaning much faster...and more accurately. The dictionary helps, but that assumes you know a word you can look up...but what if you don't have a clue? I'm hoping this is the place to go for help, but what happens if no one here can find a word or phrase that adequately describes a specific meaning? Do we:

  1. pick the closest word/phrase available and hope all of the other context will provide clarity
  2. create your own word until someone helps you find a better one

I'm doing a lot of writing these days, and most of what I write about is fairly original (for at least me)...so I often stumble onto things I can't find the words to accurately describe...and when I use words that are close, readers are often misled or argue over the words, instead of focusing on the intended meaning. This phenomena is not unique to me...it happens to everyone who wants to convey complex meanings but can't find the words to adequately convey them to others...so like me, they pick something close and generate a similar outcome...confusion and arguments about things they never intended in the first place....

I'm hoping this StackExchange is a better place to ask this question, since the English one keeps booting me over here....

  • Well, he's right about how the human mind works (that it doesn't run on words, but is only translated into words). Anyway, to help reduce ambiguity, you might try explaining the same thing in multiple different ways. Try using a lot of examples. Draw a picture if you can (one way to convey meaning without words). Try to anticipate possible points of confusion, point them out and clarify them.
    – causative
    Jan 29 at 23:48
  • What you are talking about is a "knowledge gap" or a "language gap". Use google, and hopefully with research you will stumble upon the terminology you are looking for. Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy is a great tool. I would also suggest researching philosophy of language to find solutions to your questions. .. It also sounds like you should be wary of word salad, and critically think about words you and other people use. Articulation is difficult, and the more you learn about articulation the more noticeable everyday miscommunication becomes.
    – Noah
    Jan 30 at 5:16
  • 1
    In some cases a longer descriptive expression might be preferable to a loaded single word, but if you need to coin your own term neither 1 nor 2 are adequate by themselves. You should do both and more. Pick a word whose meaning is suggestive and does not clash with already established terminology, make clear, explicitly, that you are altering its generic meaning into something more technical and specific to your use. Explain what that use is in general terms, and then give illustrative examples of what you have in mind. People sometimes have to write entire books to do this right.
    – Conifold
    Jan 30 at 9:55
  • @Conifold I agree...which has led me to write 33 books to explain the terms used in the one book I'm trying to write! Adding too much to the one book has caused it to exceed 3,000 pages, and I've got it down to just over 400 by footnoting the other books. My topic is 'better,' and though it was intended to be a 30-page booklet to bridge my understanding with that of my organizational development clients, it turns out I knew a lot more than I thought, and I've learned a lot more than that in the process.... Feb 13 at 13:43

This question is a huge one which caused major conflicts around the world throughout all history. As all comments already mentioned our human mind is not built on words but which produces numerous different images in their 3rd eye (mind) based on their own different experiences. Per my own philosophy, there's nothing but confusions among social conflicts and misunderstanding, similar situations hold during natural science theories progress...To structure your sentence as long and as precise as possible like forming a math statement in many cases are useful if your readers are well-educated.

But most importantly, from my own experience you should not too worried about words unless you're a lawyer in a court debate. Just focus on your main idea and logic you are trying to convey, oftentimes confusion comes when you want to convey too many ideas at a time. Try using some concrete stories or some colorful metaphors to support your abstract ideas or preferences, opinions, judgments...

In theory, once you're in a calm and know-what-you-are-talking about state, you won't have to worry too much to convey to others, it's spontaneous, because in this mental and physical state usually words are coming from heart like a spring, it won't get stucked just by a few words. Modern AI/GPT3 may have better and more beautiful comprehensive words than humans... Sometimes our expectation for ourselves are too high and pressured ourselves, under such stress, one cannot communicate well generally speaking...

  • Most of what I write about is several layers deep (word=definition=level), and if I skip a level, readers are bound to get lost, unless that word/concept is already adequately defined. So taking it slow and providing illustrations is helpful, but that makes everything I write too long for the average person to be willing to read. I started writing one book, that has become 34...33 books to explain terms in the one book I'm focused on. So, as I hope you can see, I prefer finding established words to writing books or adding too many pages no one is willing to read.... Feb 13 at 13:38
  • I feel sorry to ur situation if u had to labor so many books for some client who seem not at the right level with u. If I were u, I'd change a job. But to be really helpful to ur not well-prepared reader, I would simply devise some questions or puzzles to stimulate them to change their old thinking, like Socrates. Obviously u wanted to improve their epistemology. Of course, the premise is u're really clear about your main idea to convey at first place... Feb 15 at 4:38
  • my reason for writing so many books is not a problem with my client, it's a problem with me being unable to effectively communicate the depth of my understanding. Every time I think I have it, I discover something new, something richer, and better. Imagine you are writing on something that takes one hundred thousand hours of dedicated study and you are ten thousand hours in, compared to the people you serve that are only five thousand in...and instead of writing what you know at the time, you learn even more...and the gap gets even larger--I'm hoping to close the gap faster.... Feb 15 at 18:19
  • Sounds like u're learning while u're teaching... It's actually not an uncommon situation, I had similar ones before. In order not to be drowned in the Infinitism trap of epistemology, u have to assemble a certain "foundational" ideas for ur main thesis if u don't want to finish ur own learning journey first. Ideally, u only teach/communicate what u've already digested and clearly understood ideas/concepts/stories/dogmas... Feb 16 at 2:29

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