Judy2

Ask me anything about language and how it relates to reality

115 posts in this topic

Hey everyone 

I've been thinking about putting up some 101 on linguistics and philosophy of language. We all know that a proper understanding of language is crucial to personal development, and more so, spiritual work. 

When I started writing i realised that the topic is so broad that it's probably easier to ask if anyone has specific questions

I am studying languages and have contemplated the topic a lot, so i feel somewhat qualified to share my way of understanding the nature of language, if you guys are interested 

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What do you think about concepts/phenomena that exist but we have no language for?

How do we find language for to describe new stuff? And what's that process like?

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Language is simply a technology for sense-making. It’s in the same category as science, religion, history, etc.

Humans need a various worldviews and belief systems that are favorable to their to survival (pure selfishness). These technologies serve them well in this endeavor.

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@Terell Kirby Sense-making, or maybe a way to drastically manipulate/shape the way we perceive reality.

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@Raptorsin7

14 minutes ago, Raptorsin7 said:

What do you think about concepts/phenomena that exist but we have no language for?

How do we find language for to describe new stuff? And what's that process like?

Word formation usually builds on already existing words. 

For instance (using English morphology as an example here), you can add {-er} to almost any verb to describe an agent.  Teach-teacher, manage-manager.....and as many speakers are familiar with this "rule", it is reasonable to apply it for the formation of new words. Actualizer is probably nothing you find in a dictionary, but you get that it is a self-actualizing person;) so it makes sense to make use of this pattern when practically inventing a new word during a conversation, I'm sure you've done it before.

In other cases, example: a quark, the word is literally invented from scratch. (Ideally it's pronouncable though; kkld would be tough). 

There are also loan words, mostly Latin or Greek, to describe new technologies or concepts. For example aerodynamics. 

 

 

 

 

Concepts/phenomena that exist but we have no language for...

First of all, you'd probably start by trying to use the language we have to describe it.

If it's an experience or a sensation you feel as an individual, you could just invent any word and know what you refer to. The problem here is that it would still be incommunicable to anyone else. A linguistic symbol is based on convention, meaning that it combines a referent and a word form. The word form won't help you in communicating an experience/a referent to another person if they have no experience of what the symbol should stand for.

 

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Posted (edited)

My biggest question related to language is how can we use it to reduce misunderstanding as much as possible? Broad question, I know.

I would say the ability for a communication to be successful depends on our shared understanding of the words and concepts we use. But the problem, as far as I can tell, is that we can't really verify that we share these understandings.  

This is especially an issue with spirituality and esoteric matters because we're trying to talk about stuff that's outside most of our experience. So, how do you communicate based on shared understanding of concepts and words, when shared understanding isn't there?

Essentially, how do we deal with peoples varying understanding of words and concepts? Like the word "God". How do we have conversations about God when ideas about what it is are totally different?

Edited by BenG
Fixing a typo

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Posted (edited)

@Raptorsin7

* And generally speaking, language is constantly evolving and there's no single individual controlling this evolution. It's mostly about what's more easily pronouncable...

Got you - gotcha

Going to - gonna

Bike - bicycle

And obviously you can go back in time to Old English and so forth, and see how the forms changed.

 

 

 

Edited by Judy2

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Posted (edited)

@BenG That's a big one. And in a way, flawless communication or translation is impossible. Obviously it's a matter of degree though and you can always make an effort to communicate more clearly and deliberately.

You can certainly try to explicitly define terms that are relevant to a discussion, e.g. make it clear that the God you are talking about is not equivalent to Christian/other ideas of a god.

I've also come to appreciate how some spiritual teachers add words like "apparent" or "seemingly" in like every other sentence. It may seem annoying in the beginning, but eventually it will create much more clarity.

Edited by Judy2

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I've only recently begun to look a bit deeper into language, and it's really exciting how it works. I am especially fascinated by the pragmatics of language and the subtleties of human communication. I'm learning computer language as a step towards a career shift, and so I'm realizing more and more how amazing the human language is and how underappreciated it is. I always find myself speechless at the level of complexity that is required to form a simple statement and send it out to another person. What's most shocking and interesting at the same time is the ability to learn through abstraction that humans have. Like how do babies learn how to make the same sounds we make, then combine them to form words, then statements, then abstract away into concepts. Just incredible!


The winds follow the will of our sails.

We are the ships and all the seas.

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@Gesundheit2 😇

1 minute ago, Gesundheit2 said:

pragmatics of language 

Could you tell me what time it is?^_^

 

Language acquisition is absolutely fascinating!

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How understanding language can help me in spirituality?

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Just now, Salvijus said:

How understanding language can help me in spirituality?

I might be able to help here.

Ask yourself what ideas you have surrounding words and concepts. Then ask yourself how accurate these ideas are.

It's basically a destructive process. You're destroying your old ideas and replacing them with better ideas.

You want to do this with ideas, words, and concepts that are most central to your belief system.

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@Salvijus yeah, sorry. I should have said reality/philosophy. It's more about learning how arbitrary categories and labels are. Reducing the apparent power they have over you.

You are right in saying that spirituality has nothing to do with language. 

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8 minutes ago, Judy2 said:

@BenG 👍deconstruction.

Destruction. 🔥🧨💥💥💥

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@Salvijus 😊

Langauge always needs a referent. I could give you a circular definition using more language. But the real "meaning" can't be rendered using more words. The "referent" is "reality", and now i could struggle and use more words to point to that which is. The actual words yoi are reading right now, etc. Your hands, your breath, the room you are in... But that's " extralinguistic reality" (paradoxical expression, i know).

So Isness is a word pointing to something that is outside of language. Just like the word tree is not the same as an actual tree. And actually trees don't exist, it's language that creates the artificial category/mental separation.

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