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Linguistic Fingerprints

There is a fluidity to language.

Sure, there are linguistic rules that provide structure and proper grammar and all that, but the truth is that we each use language a little differently.

Scholars call this "linguistic fingerprinting."

My particular use of language is unique to me and yours is unique to you.

For example, I lived In the South for a while and picked up “y’all.” I still say it - even though I now live in the Midwest where no one says y’all. I also have a slight St. Louis accent which means I pronounce “both” with an “l” - as in “bolth.” It’s an odd combination.

Linguistic fingerprinting is usually done by computer, as the subtle variances in language are nearly impossible to detect in daily conversation. But that linguistic fingerprint still leaves a mark.

Chances are, no one will pick up on your linguistic fingerprint. They won’t notice your use of pronouns versus proper nouns. And no one will notice how often you end a sentence with a preposition on any given day. They may notice how you pronounce that one word a little differently (as in my example - “bolth” has been pointed out to me), but that’s about it.

They will, however, remember how your words made them feel.

They will remember the tone with which you spoke.

They will remember if you communicated with love and grace or criticism and callousness.

"Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person,” wrote the Apostle Paul.

Your linguistic fingerprints are left on every conversation, every encounter, you have.

What kind of a mark are you leaving?

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