shutterstock_344531261

In Australia, when we ask for a latte at a cafe, we always mean a caffe latte; and not a glass of milk. This is the context of the word “latte” in Australia.

When I saw a pack of wafer biscuits labelled “latte” I unthinkingly assume they would be coffee flavoured.

After a (large) handful, I noticed I could not taste any coffee flavour. Then I realised the pack was manufactured in Italy, where “latte” means milk. Which does not and is not supposed to taste like coffee!

Der.

Context is important for the correct parsing of the world around us.

When we are in a rush, distracted, or otherwise preoccupied we fall into making rapid decisions based on internalised context; relying on our internalised assumptions if you will.

When we are communicating to an increasingly global audience, keeping this in mind can be useful. Not that I’m saying my misrepresentation was in any way the fault of the manufacturer.

One thing i try and always do for example is explicitly staying the month when I’m referring to dates. So I would write “3 June 2016” and not 3/6/16, 6/3/16 or 16-03-06. You can clearly see how the purely numeric versions can be confusing.

Image: Cafe latte via Shutterstock.