Mismatched Vocabularies

Some­times I’ll be speak­ing to some­one and use an ob­scure word or con­cept they’re un­fa­mil­iar with. There’s a few differ­ent re­ac­tions, and, well, I un­der­stand mine and do not un­der­stand the ones that are not mine. I spent five min­utes think­ing about it, try­ing to model why peo­ple are crazy and the world is mad, and came up with these more-com­mon re­ac­tions and my hy­pothe­ses:

  1. Google the un­known refer­ence, get the defi­ni­tion or wikipe­dia sum­mary, then re­spond (“un­der­stand­ing is nec­es­sary to com­mu­ni­ca­tion and now I’ve learned some­thing new”).

  2. Ig­nore it and carry on the con­ver­sa­tion as best pos­si­ble any­way (“doesn’t mat­ter what it meant, I’m just here for the so­cial con­tact”).

  3. Get an­gry at the os­ten­ta­tious eru­di­tion (“you have just made an im­plied sta­tus grab and I’m slap­ping you down”).

If it’s not ob­vi­ous, #1 is my knee-jerk re­ac­tion to un­known refer­ences; #2 seems to be the way most peo­ple deal with it; and I have a lot of difficulty deal­ing with #3 even re­motely char­i­tabl—STOP.


I don’t get to use a ver­bal jus­tifi­ca­tion of #1 and com­pare it to an evopsych his­tor­i­cal-cause of #3. That’s a type er­ror, or some­thing, and also hypocrisy: by mak­ing the com­par­i­son, I’m set­ting my­self above those poor adap­ta­tion-ex­e­cut­ing sheep, i.e. I’m do­ing ex­actly what (I think) they’re get­ting an­gry at me about. De­spite my un­char­i­ta­ble fram­ing, their im­plied com­plaint is ab­solutely cor­rect!

This both­ers me, and I sud­denly don’t trust my own per­spec­tive, so I’m farm­ing it out: what’s re­ally go­ing on here? What do #2 and #3 feel like from the in­side, and what’s the sym­met­ric ex­pla­na­tion of #1?