The world of language is a peculiar universe of artifice; while comparisons to other primates may provide indicators for the origin and foundational beginnings for the evolution of language in order to better understand where we came from and how we came to be where we presently are — it is the complexity of the present which confounds and amazes.
The conceptual constructs of language lends itself to misunderstanding, misinterpretation, and misuse; as precision is no longer a standard of usage, so malleability of language now lends itself to clever tricks in order to avoid commitments, breach contracts, and take advantage of unsophisticated opponents. Thus, the classic statement: “It all depends upon what the meaning of ‘is’ is”.
In a Federal Disability Retirement application before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the compilation and coalescence of differing language games (to borrow a Wittgensteinian phrase) must be presented: Language of the lay person (the Federal or Postal worker who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits); language of the medical profession (doctors’ reports, technical diagnostic test results, office notes, etc. must be submitted); and legal jargon (legal citations and arguments should also be garnered for support).
Once gathered, the various components of the tripartite language games must somehow be made to complement each other. This is indeed a difficult task, as each language game constitutes a self-contained artifice of complex meanings. But coordination of the three spheres of linguistic artifice is key to a successful outcome. To do this, one must take on the role of being a technician, a conjurer, and a pseudo-artist all at once — in other words, to juggle the three balls such that one may understand that what “is” is indeed that which is and is not.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire