Difference between revisions of "Language, Communication, Meaning and My Big TOE"
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Revision as of 10:35, 6 June 2011
Language, Meaning, Communication and My Big TOE
Several considerations should be kept in mind with regards to understanding and discussing the various aspects of My Big TOE. This will aid in minimizing misunderstanding and conflict with other existing world views. This is not just that acronyms are frequently used. That is simply a matter of convenience in writing and Tom Campbell's background as a physicist. More important is that much of the usage of the past from such viewpoints as theosophy, spiritualism, mysticism and religion in general are not used and ready equivalents are not available because of the differences in world views. This means that oversouls, souls, angels and spirits are not spoken of but instead IUOCs, FWAUs and guidance are. The purpose at this point is not to provide those definitions. It is to point out that there is a great difference because of differences in world views and special care should be taken to make sure that all participants in a discussion are basing their understandings on the same definitions for words. This has been a repeating problem on the My Big TOE bulletin board as well as other aspects of language usage and communication which will be explained below.
The origins and ongoing history of the English languages
The following text spans the 1,500-year-old history of English, its structure and its uses.
One of the main characteristics of the English language - or the English languages, to use the terminology now preferred by most specialists to reflect its many existing varieties - is that it is the result of several successive linguistic “invasions”. Each of these invasions has added to the language's linguistic diversity and has had an impact on its form and structure. This, together with its readiness, both historical and current, to incorporate loanwords from other languages – in the words of the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary: “a seemingly endless capacity to accept borrowings” – has led to its great richness.
These linguistic invasions are especially noticeable in one important feature of English – its many synonyms: for instance kingly (Anglo-Saxon), royal (French) and regal (Latin), allowing for subtle shades of meaning in style. Neat distinctions such as ask from Old English, representing the prosaic, and demand from Norman "rench", representing “elegance”; and in the same manner we find nuances such as wish and desire; start and commence.
On the other hand, those same influences have produced many idiosyncrasies and apparent irregularities which have been preserved in English over time and have created demands for their abolition. But, as the editors of The New Oxford Dictionary of English put it: "A good dictionary reports the language as it is, not as the editors (or anyone else) would wish it to be, ..."
The ongoing process of linguistic change has, as a consequence, long been a battlefield.
The following is from WikiPedia, taken as a general source that in this case, seems to be giving a suitably comprehensive discussion below. This is to point out that for instance there is a vast difference in meaning of for instance the word 'beat' as in beat the clock meaning to be prompt and timely as opposed to beat your wife which is felonious assault. Not for these words, but this kind of problem has arisen. Context cannot be ignored if you wish to achieve communication.
Context in Language
Context is a notion used in the language sciences (linguistics, sociolinguistics, systemic functional linguistics, discourse analysis, pragmatics, semiotics, etc.) in two different ways, namely as Verbal context and Social context immediately below.
- Verbal context
- Verbal context refers to surrounding text or talk of an expression (word, sentence, conversational turn, speech act, etc.). The idea is that verbal context influences the way we understand the expression. Hence the norm not to cite people out of context. Since much contemporary linguistics takes texts, discourses or conversations as its object of analysis, the modern study of verbal context takes place in terms of the analysis of discourse structures and their mutual relationships, for instance the coherence relation between sentences.
- Social context
- Traditionally, in sociolinguistics, social contexts were defined in terms of objective social variables, such as those of class, gender or race. More recently, social contexts tend to be defined in terms of the social identity being construed and displayed in text and talk by language users.
Absolute Meanings of Words do Not Exist
As a final aspect of the use of language within the My Big TOE Wiki, it must always be kept in mind that words in any language arise from the same Void as all other aspects of our reality. There are NO absolute meanings to any word. Understanding communications is all individual interpretation of the incoming data stream of writing or speech. One can only make a best effort to use the best care and definitions possible in this interpretation and likewise in one's own utterances to achieve maximum communication with minimum entropy.