I know you believe you understand what you think I said but I'm not sure you realize what you heard is not what I meant.

The above is one of the cutesy phrases that I've spewed out so many times that it's difficult to recall where I first saw it. It was recently added to my home node. Some of you may have seen it there. Probably not many (does anyone actually read those things?).

A lot of occasions arise that are appropriately inappropriate for saying this and, when I say it, the most common response is, "What?". When I added it to the home node, I wanted to add some links and quickly realized that it would be fun to parse and link the whole sentence. No explanation is needed so of course I'll explain.

I know = Conviction: When stated emphatically (and redundantly): I know that I know that I know. Doesn't leave much room for doubt, does it?

you believe = Faith: Ranges all the way from confidence in a person, thing or concept to a complete belief system accepted without proof.

you understand = Comprehension: Fully grasping a concept without need for further explanation.

what you think I said = perception: This is one of my favorites. Perception is notoriously unreliable and yet we persist in saying, "Seeing is believing", as if repeating the words made it true. It isn't.

but I'm not sure = Uncertainty: Doubting Thomas. The skeptic's mantra, "Hmmm, I'll need more proof."

you realize = Epiphany: Used here in a much less religious sense of, "Eureka!", (I have found it!). Whether or not Archimedes actually jumped out of the tub and ran naked through the streets, the image is a compelling one. I have, on several occasions, fallen asleep wrestling with a seemingly insoluble problem. More than once, upon waking, the truth seemed entirely self-evident. Epiphany.

what you heard is not what I meant = congruity: "Are we on the same page?" "Do you understand?" Your words say, "I understand", but your eyes say, "I don't have a clue". Incongruent.


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