Most of us are pretty good at “audience design“: fitting how we express ourselves to what others are ready to hear. We notice when someone else is especially bad at this; but everyone’s image of other people’s minds has some blind spots. Cross-cultural communication often runs aground on such misperceptions, or at least so we’re told those who aim to teach us how to interpret the table manners and negotiating ploys of other cultures. And one of the deeper cultural divisions within our own society appears to be the one that separates lawyers from everybody else.
As the rest of the post suggests, if scientists have problems with the word theory, lawyers have trouble with the word fact.
It’s interesting that from the linguists’ perspective, “most of us are pretty good” at this audience design trickery. Rather than a technique which we must master at our peril, they take it as a basic assumption that “speakers adjust their speech primarily towards that of their audience in order to express solidarity or intimacy with them, or conversely away from their audienceâ€™s speech in order to express distance.”