What rhymes with orange?
You may think that to be a silly question dear reader. Of course, nothing rhymes with orange. It’s one of a small subset of English words which have no rhyme. Others include:
Nothing remarkable there you may think – simply an interesting bit of trivia for grammar wonks or an annoyance for songwriters.
However “orange” and it’s no-rhyming brethren offer an ideal analogy for explaining the concept of false suppositions or limiting assumptions.
Let’s return to our earlier example. I asked you what rhymes with orange. The obvious answer, again, is “nothing.”
But what if I throw a spanner into the works?
What if I countered with the following: “There is, depending on how you pronounce it.”
“What nonsense,” I hear you sputter, despite the fact that you’re typing. “Obviously I know how to pronounce ‘orange.’ Everyone knows how to pronounce it!”
Quite so dear reader, but consider, just for a moment, that you’ve been saying it wrong all this time. Unlikely I grant you, but consider the possibility.
Perhaps the idea is better presented this way: How do you know you’re pronouncing it correctly?
You may respond that you were taught to pronounce it that way, and everyone you’ve ever met has said it that way. Fair enough, but go deeper. What makes you so certain of your pronunciation?
It’s because you’ve built an assumption. One based on evidence to be sure, but an assumption nevertheless.
You assume that you were taught correctly.
You assume that everyone can’t be wrong.
Let me give you another example and then I promise I’ll reveal how all of this is relevant.
Who decided that women wear skirts and men do not?
If I asked a man to wear a skirt, odds are he would say no, and probably act as if I were mad for even asking such a question. However, such an idea wasn’t brought down from on high. It’s not coded into the fabric of the universe. It’s just a societal norm that someone, somewhere decided on, and we all began following.
My dear and long suffering reader, you’ve been so patient. Allow me to reward that patience with the point I’m trying to make.
I’ve been attempting to show how easily we make assumptions about ourselves and our world. We accept things as fact – or at least as “being right” – often with little to no evidence, and even without realizing we’re doing it.
If it’s that easy to make those assumptions, then how easy is it for us to fall into limiting patterns of belief?
How easy is it to believe that we’re not worthy of love?
How easy is it to believe that we must do what we’re told, and never venture beyond another’s vision?
Perhaps it’s time we looked more closely at what we believe and why we believe it.
It may be true that nothing rhymes with “orange.”
Perhaps it’s time we created a word that did.