Lately, “word salad” has become a part of the lexicon meaning that a person is speaking with beautiful words that are not understandable.
The term, word salad, actually has its basis in psychiatric theory. According to the Webster Merriam Dictionary category of psychology, the definition of word salad is: unintelligible, extremely disorganized speech or writing manifested as a symptom of a mental disorder (such as schizophrenia). This is often referred to as paraphasia among psychiatrists. Word salad has now devolved into a term referring to speech delivered by apparently normal people that is not understandable. For instance, a well-known politician said the following in a speech: "We invested an additional $12 billion into community banks, because we know community banks are in the community, and understand the needs and desires of that community as well as the talent and capacity of community."
The first part regarding $12 billion of expenditure is understandable but the rest of it seems rambling and circular in reasoning. Where else would community banks be located but in the community? So why do people use word salad? There are many reasons. If you are conversing with a person and winning the argument logically over a particular subject, they may feel threatened and spit back some word salad to confuse you hoping to make you doubt your own core values.
People who are lying often spit out word salad when you are getting close to the truth. Some people will use word salad to contradict well-established fact hoping you will second guess what is true and what is not. So what do you do when someone throws out word salad during your conversation?
One can inquire on the meaning of the word salad hopefully getting a better explaining. Don’t feel bad if you don’t understand what they are saying. If their response in more word salad, especially in an accusatory fashion (suggesting you are stupid), disengage from the conversation.
There are plenty of alternative resources in newspapers, the library or on line to verify or debunk what was presented to you verbally. Online search engines such as Google, DuckDuckGo, Brave, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex and Baidu usually help narrow down what is true and what is not. In my opinion Google covers many topics but if my search deals with politics, Google tends to be biased and other choices may be better such as Brave. Along with regular word salad there is also technical word salad. The late radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, put forth an example of technical word salad. He had brought his automobile in for a repair and the mechanic said that he found a problem with his vehicle. The mechanic said that the disgronificator must be replaced or the car will not run without it. The following was the conversation from the Limbaugh radio transcript: “I never heard of that, what do you mean?” “Well, you can’t drive without it. You can leave here and you might get a couple, three miles but you’re going to be back here.” “How much it cost?” “$800.”
If you are not familiar with the technical lingo of the automobile profession, you tend to believe the technical person who is spitting out technical word salad. If you search a listing of automotive technical terms, there is no such thing as a disgronificactor in an automobile. We are confronted with various forms of word salad daily. If you are the recipient of word salad, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification or get a second opinion from a reputable source.