Friday, October 12, 2012

Metaphorically Speaking...

You might be surprised to learn that I am a bit of a "Trekkie." Mostly for self-preservation. It was either learn to enjoy the episodes or watch television by myself, since Tommy has been a huge fan since college. He actually used to schedule classes so that he could be home in time to watch the original Star Trek episodes. After all, you never knew what alien creature Captain James T. Kirk was going to battle in order to save the Federation.

Dathon and Picard
One of his favorite episodes is actually from Star Trek, The Next Generation. "Darmok" aired September 30, 1991 (Stardate 45047.2). In that episode, Captain Jean Luc Picard and his crew meet with an alien race known as the Children of Tama. Although the ship's translators could make their words comprehensible, their speech wasn't, because it was entirely structured around metaphor and allusions to their myths. Noting this, the Tamarian Captain Dathon kidnapped Picard and marooned them both on a world where they could face a common enemy. Over the course of their struggles, Picard was able to learn and understand the Tamarian language, paving the way towards greater understanding between the Tamarians and the Federation.

I, however, thought it was dumb. Nobody speaks that way was my argument. Then I thought about phrases our family uses that no one else would understand and realized the premise isn't as dumb as I originally thought. Yes, I was wrong. If I said to you, "don't do a McDonald's job," or "let's eat at 'ney's," or "the drum room," or "wake up; do math" you probably wouldn't have any idea what I was talking about. But, Lindsay or Matt or Tommy or I would know exactly what I meant.

We do bring our experiences, history, personalities, and culture into our communication. And, that's a good thing.  It brings us closer when we remember how those metaphors came to be.  What about you?  Any metaphors your family uses?

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