Words & Language

Not just for linguists and logophiles (word lovers)
The exploring, discovering and discussing of words, language & communication from different perspectives.

Words & Language

Postby Ryan » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:32 am

You know... I have had a number of discussions with all kinds of people about language as a form of communication, and I must say it is quite amazing. The one thing I have found in common in all of these instances where someone finds language/words to be limiting is that all of them are not very good at translating their feelings into words or their approach in explaining things are rather limited and therefore the method has to be faulty...

For anyone whose art is the written or spoken word such remarks must be a bit hurtful. Maybe such people have never been brought to tears, or pushed to ecstasy from a poem, story, or novel? However... it has been my experience that this isn't the case. Most of the people that I have encountered that would condemn the written and spoken word as being limiting and flawed are rather large emotional supporters of great writings and usually avid readers...

For me language is a tool, and the same tool in every person's hand does not yield the same results. Some are more talented... skilled, whatever and the tool serves them well in comparison to those who aren't so skilled/talented but does that mean the tool is faulty? Not to my understanding, does that mean those that aren't skilled/talented shouldn't try to create things that are dependent upon the use of such a tool. Not in my opinion. I know that any one person can do anything they want to do... it may be easier for some than others, but if you want it bad enough you can and will do it.

What I feel to be not quite right is to blame the piece of wood or the tool for our own inabilities to do something easily or perfectly.
[R] If you don't understand something I said or why I said it... ask me.
If you don't want to understand something I said or why I said it... tell me.
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Re: Words & Language

Postby Sabina » Wed Mar 10, 2010 1:01 pm

Ah.. what synchronicity. :)
Your latest addition to the funny videos thread, about the versatile 'f' word, actually has something to do with this as well.
The usage of language should be practiced... and words should be used properly. If everyone was a logophile, communication would possibly function a lot better.
Instead, things are changing in the opposite direction.
The 'f' word, as explained in the video as well, is used to replace various adjectives, adverb, and others.

Then take other words, which are not considered profane, and used even more.
Let's take the word "cool", for instance.
Whether something is beautiful, or inspiring, or only kind of nice, people refer to it as cool....
When I say people I don't mean just the others, I am guilty of the same crime much too often.
I use the word "cool", while occasionally trying to remind myself to use other words instead. To use proper words, in the sense that they actually express how I feel about something, rather than using an overall term.
When I was a teenager I despised the word "nice", or actually it was the German "nett".
It seemed like such a polite meaningless word to me. When someone says "that's nice", what did they actually say? Nice how? Nice why?
You can't make up your mind what you think of something, so you say "that's nice".
That is an exaggeration of course, as the word nice has its place like any word. It is only the overblown usage of it in various unfitting situations that brought me to the point of agony over the word itself. Though it's not the word's fault... people just didn't use it properly.

Perhaps it is a kind of laziness as well, at least to a certain degree. Rather than using our minds to come up with the exact right word(s), we more and more use "overall words", which can mean a lot of things. So as a result of improper or imprecise usage of words and language communication is actually getting more obscure rather than crystal clear.

Sabina
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Re: Words & Language

Postby alija » Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:58 am

Just another opinion about words/communication I found several years back on this site, and I copied one part which could bring a bit more light into this topic. Sorry, my intention was not to take a part in this discussion, but finally working on my book marks I found this and here we are.
However, just another opinion, and nothing more.
Namasthe
alija

"But what is meaning in communication?

It is usually assumed that words, whether spoken or written have intrinsic meanings.
This is false. They only have the meanings which are assigned to them.
A word is a symbol, nicely defined as "mass plus meaning." One of the most
basic abilities of a person is to tag a significance onto a piece of matter/energy.
My high level thought experiments (visualizations) and "goings" (I have no idea
what else to call it when I reach "up/out" and look around my universe at a
brighter level of awareness.) indicate that meaning is a postulate.

What is a postulate? A postulate is a decision about the state of reality itself.
It can be a postulate concerning personal reality or our group reality (the
universe), either one or both. This decision, this postulate has a direct effect on a
person's life and surroundings. An example would be a man deciding that "all
women are bad", with the result of getting involved only with "bad" women from
then on. An example of a, *ahem*, more positive postulate would be a woman
deciding that she was going to be a successful florist, then having a long lost uncle
unexpected show up and give her a loan of $10,000 as seed money to start her
business.

These things do not happen by "accident." It is my experience that there are
no accidents, only hidden causes.

A strong, confident postulate attaches a significance to most or all of
surrounding reality. The more reality it attaches meaning to, the wider effect it
has. So this is the basic function. A sub- or specialized postulate action is the
attachment of a limited meaning to a word or action in order to communicate.

All communication is apparently telepathic. A person can write or speak millions
of words, but if that person does not intend meaning into them, and the
listener/reader does not intend to understand, then no communication happens.
This is most noticable when for instance an adult is reading out of a book to a
small child. If the adult just sets the whole action onto a circuit, and reads
mechanically in a dead voice then the child gets bored, attention wanders, no
communication is occurring. If on the other hand that adult reads the story with
full attention and intention, and turns it into a "live" story happening right now,
then the child will be rapt and excited. Communication is happening.
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Re: Words & Language

Postby Sabina » Sun May 16, 2010 11:56 am

Again a scene from Waking Life...


Transcript:

    Creation seems to come out of imperfection.
    I t seems to come out of a striving and a frustration.
    And this is where I think language came from.
    I mean, it came from our desire to transcend our isolation...
    and have some sort of connection with one another.
    And it had to be easy when it was just simple survival.
    Like, you know, "water." We came up with a sound for that.
    Or, "Saber-toothed tiger right behind you." We came up with a sound for that.
    But when it gets really interesting, I think,
    is when we use that same system of symbols to communicate...
    all the abstract and intangible things that we're experiencing.
    What is, like, frustration? Or what is anger or love?
    When I say "love,"
    the sound comes out of my mouth...
    and it hits the other person's ear,
    travels through this Byzantine conduit in their brain,
    you know, through their memories of love or lack of love,
    and they register what I'm saying and say yes, they understand.
    But how do I know they understand?
    Because words are inert.
    They're just symbols. They're dead, you know?
    And so much of our experience is intangible.
    So much of what we perceive cannot be expressed. It's unspeakable.
    And yet, you know, when we communicate with one another,
    and we--
    we feel that we have connected,
    and we think that we're understood,
    I think we have a feeling of almost spiritual communion.
    And that feeling might be transient, but I think it's what we live for.
"Whether You believe you can, or you can't, you are right."
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Re: Words & Language

Postby mirjana » Sun May 16, 2010 4:22 pm

Sabina wrote:...
But when it gets really interesting, I think,
is when we use that same system of symbols to communicate...
all the abstract and intangible things that we're experiencing.
What is, like, frustration? Or what is anger or love?
[color=#385500]When I say "love,"
the sound comes out of my mouth...
and it hits the other person's ear,
travels through this Byzantine conduit in their brain,
you know, through their memories of love or lack of love,
and they register what I'm saying and say yes, they understand.

These words are great contribution to this topic.
However precise we think that we say something in the communication with another. Our words resonate with the understanding that the listener has connected to them and based on personal experience s/he also has associations that could be completely different. Therefore words, even if very precise, are not the most important part of the communication. I think that sometimes we can communicate clearer with somebody without words that with somebody else with many of them.
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Re: Words & Language

Postby dermot » Sun May 16, 2010 8:37 pm

I agree Mirjana,
if we tune in to words then truth will be apparant, equally lies can be revealed in many ways, a feeling , intuition, it just takes concentration and an open mind.
d.
....the heart only whispers, be still and listen....
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Re: Words & Language

Postby mirjana » Sun May 16, 2010 9:21 pm

Exactly Dermot.
All three: intuition, feelings and open mind are best tools for true understanding when words and their understanding escapes control.
I used to be present in talks when one of two carries much burden and is not therefore able to understand that there is a way and possibility to talk about things openly and without any hidden agenda. My older daughter is a kind of Don Quixote in fighting against misunderstandings, lies and manipulation. In fact all these belong to the understanding of all facets of life and different people, as well to the personal growth. I like very much your answer given in the topic about Fear and Laziness. The same is here with words and their understanding. If we genuinely believe in the purity of the person with whom we talk, it is hard that anything unpleasant happens even if the words in the talk will not be always best chosen. On the other hand, with disappointments we become wounded and somehow weak so that each situation that associates in any way with such experiences causes prejudices in listening and assumptions before all cards are open. Again, as you previously said, it is the same time the best school for us to learn about self primary as well as about others and life.
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Re: Words & Language

Postby mirjana » Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:24 am

Gurdjieff and language

I like this simple and short explanation of importance how the language should be used in order to explain ideas precisely.

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