That we live in a strange world, is not in doubt. Apart from its many flaws and equally wondrous methods of balancing them, there's this one thing which bothers me every now and then: The English Language.
Back in the days when I was at school, we learnt that English was a global language. Lingua Franca, they called it. Well, yeah the French would disagree. And the Spanish. And a minority set of Countries who, for their own reasons have chosen some other language as their national tongue. But, they won't understand this piece cause they won't know English anyway. Well... Balance. ;)
But anyway, the issue with English. So... If English is a Globally accepted language, it should in all respects, be perfect. No ambiguities and confusions. No redundancies. Right? Well, not really the case is it?
For example: Maybe is the word that defies balance to the hilt.
I asked a colleague of mine the other day, "Bro, some of us from work are going out for dinner on Friday. Can u make it?" And he replied: "Maybe". Pretty smart, wasn't it? Maybe. The ultimate diplomatic tool. Deflecting the question, yet not completely declining the invitation. In his defense, he wasn't completely sure if he could make it. And therein lies the beauty of it: we'll never know, will we? ;)
'Maybe' and his evil twin 'Maybe Not' epitomize uncertainty in an undeniable, unquestionable fashion and yet, balance out their differences. You see, the answer 'maybe' translates to: "Not Sure. But there's a better chance of assent than dissent." While 'maybe not' sounds more like: "Not sure. But there's I good chance I won't." If you are smart enough to see the subtle difference, there wont be as much an ambiguity.
So, the next time you ask a question and get an uncertain reply like, maybe/(not) and probably/(not), corner the diplomatic dud and force a straight answer outta him.
-Pratik Gupta. :)
PS: That colleague of mine finally did turn up for the dinner. ;P
PPS: Comments are welcome.