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Questioning False Questions

December 19, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Some questions need never be asked. “Can I help you?” or “What can I do?” seem less sincere query and more fake pretense and social staging. If one is capable, why not always help? For some this question is the polite query meaning “I don’t want to help but if you ask I will and know full that by not asking I’ll make you mad.” The game is known and the situation is clear: help is needed. Just do it.

Part of the magic of language is this ability to exist despite purpose or need. We deploy our words as means to achieve disparate and often contradictory goals. Here we have a great example: asking if our help is needed when do not want to help. We learn this use of language early. As children we ask for permission even when we know we will. Is it passive aggressive or just sheer smarts that makes us both capable and willing to use language in this form. From our mouths and lips we emit words of incredible sincerity and dastardly deception.

A useful class of language exists: baseless expressions that establish foundation. Daily paradoxes function to provide multiple levels of benefits: cover our bases, do as we’re expected and avoid as best we can the things we loathe to do.

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