Eavesdropping while traveling abroad, part 3


“You’ll love Barcelona. It’s just like New York City. Only nicer.” I overheard this conversation during our last dinner in Amalfi, before departing for Rome. At the next table were two young, sophisticated-looking American couples talking about their travels. One couple lived in New York City.

It’s not uncommon for us to put things into context when explaining them. Context helps to illuminate a point we’re trying to make. In many cases, context is essential to a description. But overhearing the conversation got me thinking about false context, and how it takes away from a point that’s being made, ultimately causing confusion.

Comparing Barcelona to New York doesn’t add context to the description of Barcelona. Barcelona is like Barcelona. New York is New York. Period.

Elizabeth Qi