Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Italics, Bold and Other Devices

Trey Smith

You know, one of the things that can be difficult to convey through a strictly written medium is satire. While the writer can utilize italics, bold, underlines, "quotation marks" and throw in an emoticon, where available, the reader still must guess what he or she thinks the writer is trying to get across. As this is an imperfect art, writers and readers often misinterpret each other.

For most people, voice inflection and nonverbal actions provide key clues as to whether or not the speaker is being tongue-in-cheek. I say "most people" because these clues do not exist for people like me. I frequently cannot discern voice inflections and nonverbal clues are about as helpful as someone speaking in a foreign language that do not comprehend. I can't tell you the number of times in which everyone else in the room understands that the speaker is playfully teasing and I think the person is being dead serious. Of course, it's often the other way around. I think the person is speaking tongue-in-cheek when, in fact, he/she is being as serious as serious can be.

So, it seems I have the worst of both worlds. I often misinterpret the intent of the written word just as often as I misinterpret the intent of the spoken word! Try as I might, when I make a guess, my guesses almost always are wrong.

I share this today as a reminder to those of you who must deal with or are in a relationship with someone who has Asperger's (high-functioning autism). It's not that we are aloof and not concerned with your feelings, it's more that a great deal of the "rules" of social communication and interaction are lost on us. We truly are trying to understand the intent of what you are telling us!


  1. Is there anything we can do to help you understand our intentions better?

    1. I don't think so. It is what it is. ;-)

  2. Ok, just thought I'd ask.

    I really enjoy reading your posts but am not always sure what to say about them. :)

    1. That makes two of us!! I'm not always sure how to respond to comments.


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