Assumptions about content and context

Always readily and all too often without grounds, I assume things. For example, I assume that the readers of this blog post are proficient in the English language enough to understand what I’ve written. Some of my assumptions have been proven wrong or even plain broken before. I am certain though that I am not the only one with the experience.

One of the things I assume right now is that I can prove that you do not need to know a language to understand the meaning of a phrase. My premise is that if content is king, then his queen’s name is context. The nagging can’t-live-with-or-without-her queen. Context defines, refines and represents content in the marvelous light, just like a queen completes her king.

Here’s the example. Here are seven words in the Russian language:

Понедельник, вторник, среда, четверг, пятница, суббота, воскресенье.

Now, if you do not read or understand Russian, is there a way for you to know the meaning of these words? (Without any translation help, of course.)

What if I abbreviated the words like this? Would it give you any hint?

П.

В.

С.

Ч.

Пт.

Сб.

Вс.

Let me give you another hint. Maybe this will help?

П. 10:00-12:00

В. 9:00-12:00

С. 10:00-13:00

Ч. 8:00-11:00

Пт. 9:00-11:00

Сб. закрыто

Вс. закрыто

The seven words and their abbreviations as content did not change their meaings. Just like the fact of king being king that does not change whether you know it or not. At first, the content was empty to you, provided you were not familiar with it. The meaning of the seven words could not produce any effect.

Not so if you add some context adorning its neck. What changed throughout the three parts of my example was context. It brings out the beauty of content and makes you connect with the king on a new level.

You might argue that the assumption I made (that I could prove you did not need to know the language to understand what a phrase meant) was lame: take a word or phrase in a language you don’t know, and you are left with an appliance without a manual – you can guess what it’s for, but if you’ve never used it before, it’s to no benefit for you. Absolutely, that’s exactly what my point is. Without knowing what an axe is for, you can end up using it for the wrong purpose – cooking an axe soup or porridge will ruin your axe and leave your stomach empty.

Yes, I assume things. I do, because assumptions help me stop treading water and move on. They enable me to glance past the used-to, mundane and common-place. I believe using assumptions as a tool is legitimate – however, throwing them as a spanner in the works isn’t.

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