Saturday, January 11, 2014

Knowing Enough To Get In Trouble

I love language and languages. There is something immensely fun about being able to use different languages to express myself. It can also be used to  build a connection with somebody. Going to a Chinese restaurant and telling the server, "Nihao. Jintian zenme yang?" is a way of telling them that you know Chinese and are inviting a conversation. So if that happens to be the limit of your conversational ability, you will very quickly realize that you dug yourself into a sizable hole. 

This is called knowing enough to get you into trouble. It is a narrow threshold of knowledge in which you very clearly can do more than the average novice (anyone can learn to say "hello", but few people know how to say "how's the day going"), and yet your actual knowledge of/ability in a subject is functionally minimal. 

Too many errors of comedy or 90s sitcoms were based on a character pretending to be knowledgeable or skilled at something and them knowing just enough to get into trouble. 

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