parsing communications

The way we parse what we read affects how we understand the meaning. I often notice myself parsing incorrectly.

Headline in an email newsletter: Ways to secure a router. This could mean different ways to buy a router. What it did mean was how to make the data you send over your router safe.

Newspaper headline: Realtors: Beware of scams. I first read it as the writer of the article telling realtors they should be aware of scams. What it really meant was that the article was reporting that realtors were telling the public to be aware of scams.

Temporary street sign:
street work
10/8-9/13

I first read this as October 8 through September 13, which makes no sense as we have not yet achieved the ability to move backwards in time. What it meant, of course, was the street work was to be done October 8 & 9 2013

Automatic Out of office reply. What I read the first time:

“I will be out of the office today for something truly urgent. You may be able to reach me on my cell.”

What it actually said was:

“I will be out of the office today.  For something truly urgent you may be able to reach me on my cell.”

It’s always good to take a second look at such things before making an assumption or saying something.



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