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Thread: Knowing something but not being able to explain it in words

  1. #21
    Resident Apple Hoarder Array Kriash's Avatar
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    Mar 2010


    Most things I can explain, even though it takes an awful long time sometimes. When it comes down to my dreams however, they feel so epic, so important, but I can't express what they mean, or the feeling they give me, or what's happening and it's frustrating because I know it in my head, and I want to explain it so much but when I try I just go on and on without getting where I am trying to go. The only person who I even try and explain my dreams to is my cousin Bobby. they call us twins, although he's 9 months older than me. we're both infp, (although he's more extroverted than I am), and for our whole lives we've been able to finish each other's thoughts, and are patient enough to let one of us go on for an hour about some random idea without knowing if we'll ever get to the point.

  2. #22
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Array Mole's Avatar
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    Mar 2008

    Smile Tender Mercies

    Some things are best conveyed by shape. Sculpture, for instance, is the art of shape; and dance is the art of moving shapes; and transcendence is the art of changing shape; while poetry is the shape of words.

    So let us betray words; let us subvert words with shape. Words merely try to trick us with meaning, while shapes are sui generis.

    It is little known that Adam and Eve, or should it be Eve and Adam, perceived the Garden of Eden entirely in terms of shape until they disobeyed God and ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and they began speaking for the first time.

    Of course it was the Snake who spoke with his forked tongue, forked on one side for good and to the other side for evil. So imitating the Snake, Eve and Adam started to speak with the forked tongue of good and evil.

    So tragically and sadly we speak to one another on Central of good and evil with our forked tongues. But our saving grace is that sometimes we know something but are unable to express it in words, and we are thrown back on signs and symbols, on shape and sculpture, on dance and transcendence, and we are left to the tender mercies of poetry.

  3. #23
    Senior Member Array King sns's Avatar
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    Nov 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuchIrony View Post
    I know I experience this every now and then. I had someone tell me once that if you can't explain it, you don't really know it. I disagree. I think there are things you can know but have a hard time explaining. For example, I might get a sense that someone is a certain MBTI type but if you ask me to explain my reasoning, all I can say is there is a certain vibe they give off or they happen to remind me of someone that I know is a certain type.

    Do you think you can know something but not be able to really explain it?

    If so, how often does this happen to you?


    Is this type related? I'm guessing its probably more common in N types, and maybe in F types. I would guess that Ni dominants are most likely to experience this sort of thing.
    I think in pictures and movies and need to translate them into words. Usually this is easy enough, describe the picture in my head. Other times it's quite difficult. I have great difficulty expressing emotions because they are so abstract and there's no picture to go with them. Usually when expressing emotions, I feel like I'm speaking a foreign language and don't know enough vocabulary for what I'm trying to say, am dancing around using the wrong words, and it's not coming out right. Anything that can't be portrayed in a picture is also difficult to portray in words. Thankfully, most of my thoughts can be portrayed with a picture.
    06/13 10:51:03 five sounds: you!!!
    06/13 10:51:08 shortnsweet: no you!!
    06/13 10:51:12 shortnsweet: go do your things and my things too!
    06/13 10:51:23 five sounds: oh hell naw
    06/13 10:51:55 shortnsweet: !!!!
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  4. #24
    Senior Member Array Saslou's Avatar
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    Feb 2009


    Far to often ..

    From my blog on 24th April.
    It's strange i that i know 'things' but because i don't understand the details behind them i question what i 'know' .. I'm not stressed or tense but i am so fucking intrigued.

    Being a 'why' person i am unable to trust my instincts as i have no data to evaluate other than knowing. It's hard for me to verbalise but these days i am trusting and working with it .. It's amazing really.
    “I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flower, you hung all your associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see—and I don't.”
    ― Georgia O'Keeffe

  5. #25
    Senior Member Array IndyGhost's Avatar
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    May 2010
    4w5 sx/sp


    Quote Originally Posted by KDude View Post
    I think Ni dominants can get their words through better than anyone - even when they don't make sense/structure it around Fe or Te. They at least kind of just swash around observations often.

    Fi has the most nebulous and personal way of wording things imo. Ti works things out fairly precisely, even if it's in their heads - I think INTPs can sometimes be concise, yet push out what they're seeing in a rather holographic way, that's almost hard to not see what they mean.
    Nebulus is a good one...

    Going back to the original post, I do think that some functions find it more difficult to find the proper words to express an idea. I would think Ti and Te have less problems with this. And in my experience have found Fi and Ni to be some of the more difficult ones to express. It's the same for me when it comes to explaining why I think someone is of a certain type. It's more of an impression that I'm picking up from a person, and I'm generally correct in my assessment. But how I came to the conclusion, is more difficult to explain. Things that are felt aren't felt through the abstraction of words. However, with enough energy, I can sit down with these impressions and do my best to work from impression to words. But it's not always successful.

    Quote Originally Posted by EJCC View Post
    It happens to everyone, so yeah, I think so.

    Sometimes. On a regular basis. But it drives me crazy and I usually brainstorm or talk through it until I can think of a way to express it.

    It seems like it happens a lot with anyone trying to explain their introverted function process (i.e. Si, Ti, Ni, Fi) - for example, don't even try to get me to explain my moral views, or else it'll come down to "I think this because it's RIGHT" without the ability to elaborate (and you have no idea how much it embarrasses me when other people witness that). But the difference I've seen is that the Ni types (and the NFPs) are the ones that tend to be convinced that those introverted thoughts/feelings are un-expressable that they don't even bother trying to explain them. I wonder if it's that they just stop caring about being understood, because they feel like they're going to be misunderstood regardless? Whereas ESTJs don't generally feel misunderstood because if they want someone to know something, they tell themo with ud and clear. Emphasis on loud
    Probably less to do with not wanting to explain, and more to do with intimidation of trying.

    Quote Originally Posted by William K View Post
    Your multiple intelligence type could play a part as well. I'm linguistic so I usually have no problems getting my thoughts out in words/sentences. Whether the other person understands my words is another matter

    I would think the logical-mathematical and spatial types would fare better in other communication forms
    I feel as though in general this is the marked difference between INFP and ISFP, the two Fi-dom's. Where one works with Se to express Fi, the other works with Ne. And Ne seems to do better in the realm of improvising abstract language and symbolism to express Fi. I always consider the INFP the poet, personally.

    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    That is true at least to a point...I'm a writer and in general terms I express myself better while writing than in any other means of communication, and I have often used writing as a way of working out what I'm feeling and why.
    I've found keeping a journal to be quite helpful in expressing myself verbally. The more I kept it up, the more clarity I felt I could find with my thoughts.
    "I don't know a perfect person.
    I only know flawed people who are still worth loving."
    -John Green

  6. #26
    won't be missed Array /DG/'s Avatar
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    Mar 2009


    Gahh! Yes! This is one huge problem of mine. I'm so bad at getting my thoughts into words, much less making it sound intelligent.

    Victor, you're so eloquent that I wouldn't imagine you ever having a problem with this.

  7. #27
    Senior Member Array
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    Aug 2010


    We all have this happen. Ni can be like vanishing thoughts. Flash, flash, flash, flash. How do you put these impossibly quick snapshots into words?

  8. #28


    There's always something lost in the struggle when translating ideas and concepts to language. Part of the essence is going to be lost along the way. That's the price we pay in translation.

    Having multiple simultaneous communication channels helps. Give me a whiteboard and an audience who knows how to read nonverbal cues, and I can effectively communicate many more ideas than I could with just the written word alone.

    It amazes me how so many people fail to realize that they need to clearly establish that channel of communication if they want to, I don't know, communicate with other people. I lose it when someone opens a conversation by using pronouns to describe things, as if I were thinking right alongside them and somehow know what they're talking about.

  9. #29
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Array Mole's Avatar
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    Mar 2008

    Smile The Secret of the Words

    Quote Originally Posted by DisneyGeek View Post
    Gahh! Yes! This is one huge problem of mine. I'm so bad at getting my thoughts into words, much less making it sound intelligent.

    Victor, you're so eloquent that I wouldn't imagine you ever having a problem with this.
    I have given up, dear DisneyGeek, with trying to put my thoughts and feeling into words, and now I let the words themselves speak. I listen to the words and hear what they are telling me, and quite often I am surprised.

    So no more for me the struggle to express myself, the words write themselves, and I am curious about what they want to say. I suspect they have a purpose in mind, but I don't know what it is yet. So I keep writing to you in the hope of discovering the secret of the words.

  10. #30
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Array Mole's Avatar
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    Smile Lost in Translation

    Quote Originally Posted by bologna View Post
    There's always something lost in the struggle when translating ideas and concepts to language. Part of the essence is going to be lost along the way. That's the price we pay in translation.
    I have tried to peer into the depths of our very own translator here, Red Herring, with the magic words, 'traduttore, traditore'. But with all the wisdom of a translator, Red Herring parries my magic words with logic.

    Magic withers in the face of logic, turns her face to the wall, for magic can't reply in kind - magic can't reply with logic, for to reply with logic would be to betray the very dearest and deepest magic - traduttore, traditore.

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