Create your language

The key to any culture is its language. With that deciphered, you in. When you’re able to communicate and resonate and empathize with a group of people on a deep level, you’ve reached cultural immersion.

But this goes beyond English and Spanish and Korean and Czech. Within each of those languages are many others. I’m not just talking geography. Language is a key connector for all types of cultures:

  • Entrepreneurs talk about cash cows, VCs, and run rates.
  • Aristotle talked about syllogisms, unmoved movers, and particulars.
  • Seth Godin talks about purple cows, tribes, and heretics.
  • Ev Bogue talks about untethering, cyborgs, and living data.
  • Christians talk about grace, salvation, and the gospel message.

Those are just the ones that came to mind for me. But pick anyone you follow regularly, any culture you’re in. They use the same words over and over again. The words might not be totally new to anyone, but the way these people use them makes the words seem new.

The words are part of their language.

At first, it seems really geeky, like, “Why do these people talk this way?” But once you’re in the culture, you start to get it. The words are shorthand for bigger things. They’re symbols. And they help bring the community together.

We all get this on some level. But I think you and I miss out because we don’t always realize we can do the same thing.

Some people are naturals. They automatically do this, without even thinking about it.

Others have to work at it like it’s an art. They try out different words, see what works, what sticks. And then they keep rethinking the words, remolding them until they turn into something very different from what the words originally meant.

Either way, the results are similar. The words still hint at what’s behind them, but they’re only the tip of the volcano. There’s tons and tons of meaning bubbling just below the surface, waiting to erupt for the right people, the people who get it, the ones who are in the culture and understand the language.

And you and I can create that, or at least help define it by starting the molding process. Even if we’re not naturals, we can learn the craft.

The key to creating any culture is creating the language. What’s your language? How are you creating it?