I volunteered for Trunk and Treat at my son’s school. Parents decorated their car trunks, parked in the school lot and handed out Halloween goodies. Smiles and laughs came easily as children revealed their imagination through costume. A 4th grader’s rendition of the Liberty Mutual Man was my favorite; and a 6th grader as a GATORADE bottle was pretty funny.

The costume parade provoked me to think about language. It is so interwoven in our social interaction. Think about costumes, for example. Colors, fabric, objects and their arrangement convey meaning. Costumes manifest our collective experiences although we acquire these experiences at separate times and often apart from each other. Even though media and marketing influence what images we prioritize, the fact that we can understand them in costume, on each other, is a form of communication and language.

There is so much that we do as a society that is language-unspoken and unwritten. As I was thinking about the concept of unspoken Halloween language, the event was winding down and I was closing my trunk. Then I heard, “Milcen’s Mom!” I turned around to find a group of costumed, smirking 7th graders. They were kind of glaring at me.

“Where’s the sour patch candy? We heard you have some.” This was as close to a stick up as you can get at a Halloween Party. They were right, though. I guess word got out that I had prized sweets; and they wanted them.  They got their treats.  Kids are funny.

I drove off the lot smiling and feeling grateful that I could express and understand language. I can even feel it. With so much of my work being with people who have lost language, I get how special and omnipresent it really is.

We all have experiences and stories. For those challenged by aphasia, our team at WORDStim is working for them to achieve fluency of communication through linguistic repair.

What do you think about the idea of unspoken, shared language in society customs?

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