I wrote about listening the other day, and then I read in a book about aging how our brain fills in when we only catch part of a word. I found the concept intriguing, and I was then given a chance to see it in action. We went to a lovely restaurant for dinner Saturday night but were next to a very noisy bunch of young adults. The waiter was telling me about the cod special. Since I love cod, I was listening as attentively as possible as he described the dish. Then he said ” it is on a bed of corrabi.” I asked him what he had just said and he repeated “corrabi.” My brain froze. Did I really not know the name of some food after all these years? I stared at my table mates. My husband said “kohlrabi,” with a “k.” Aha. My poor mind was going off in the direction of “correlate,” “correspond,” and “corpulent.” It wasn’t going to get to “kohlrabi” if I had sat there all night!
In a similar vein, my husband yelled at me from the other room. I apparently only heard East Hartford is having a”ar,” “ing” and “an.” I filled in the phrase making it “East Hartford is getting a marching band.” This made no sense, so I asked him why in a snow storm we were getting a marching band. No. It was “East Hartford is having a parking ban.” Now that made sense.
Kids do the same, trying to learn new words by comparing them to ones they already know. Years ago as I was talking about my forebears, our youngest piped up. “I know about the three bears, but who are the four bears?” When I discussed my Great-Uncle Jimmy, another asked, “is the other our bad Uncle Jimmy?”
As easy as it is to miss meanings, it is amazing that we communicate at all!