What's the Difference Between Understanding and Knowing?

Published on by Francesca Quarto

Now that most of you reading this are adults...or pretending to that status, let's begin with the premise that you do know the English language.

That can be as far from understanding the tongue spoken by the majority of people residing in America, as Patagonia is from Portland. Both may bring to mind places of natural beauty and a certain freestyle of living in Portland's case, but there will be a vast difference in the reality of first hand knowledge of either place.

Our native tongue is indisputably, English. If you doubt me, go ask anyone currently running for office.

However, having spent some time in the trenches of teaching and writing about literacy in America, I can say without hesitation, our lexicon can be confusing and downright frustrating to learn or teach.

I recently looked into my ever-present Webster's Dictionary and the table of contents included some of the new words that have found their way into our language due to common usage in society. It also contains a pronunciation key; all important to the new English learner. Or is it?

Without delving any further into the contents of my Webster's, I was once more struck by the invisible barriers to our language.

One must "Know" that it's "No" good to merely learn words we just tie our meaning in a "Knot" if we do "Not" apply the correct spelling. Ah Ha! Weigh to go...I mean Way to go!!

Now, I've opened the window just a crack, so (Sew); hopefully you (Ewe) will see that knowing a language does not automatically mean you understand it!

Thanks for the rant time!

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