Lingua franca

I’ve just gone for two lectures [Language Puzzle: study of human language] so far and I was going to couple my inferences so far into a larger discussion about opinions and truth, as if to demonstrate the interconnectedness of everything. But I never have time to blog nowadays and so yet another magnum opus is being shelved indefinitely.

I just found it interesting to note that language, in any form, even animal communication, is a way of expressing your internal state or your take on the state of your immediate surroundings. Does this relate to mind-body separation in any way? I don’t get the connection either, but it occurred to me. Language as a way of proving the independence of the intangible mind? The [malformed] quote that occurred to me was, “*I* speak, therefore *I* am.”
Cos if you think about it, if we all had no individual agendas and opinions, and there was always unanimous agreement in the population, then, wouldn’t that mean we don’t need a language? We might have evolved to be telepathic and conform to the hive-mind experience; that’d use less energy than talking and arguably makes you a better hunter and excellent at evasion [cos you’re silent, even in a group] in an EEA. Let’s say we became telepathic now…that’d be a disaster wouldn’t it? That’s only because we are all driven for selfish reasons [except me of course 😉 ]. So if we could read each other’s minds, every other person’s thoughts are potentially not in our best interests, at least in the long term. So the only thing that divides us is opinion. Opinions about identity, gods, how things should be done and so on.

So being telepathic as a species might require a fundamental aversion to survival at any cost, focussing instead on the greater good?

So I’d like to think [I’ve been ruminating this for a long time] that there is no absolute truth. And therefore no untruths. Just opinions versus unanimous agreement. Does that make any sense? I mean, science is a dictionary of compiled and proven “truths” for the most part but how many of us know it to be true cos we’ve seen it? We just accept what’s in the books. We are accepting an opinion, in any case. So unless we actually see it for ourselves, our knowledge of the world will never be complete. And you’ll never approach Godel’s Truth. Forming your own opinion with your own [albeit questionable perceptions] might be the only way to even arrive closer than what is theoretically predicted. Limits anyone?

So if language exists because there was no unanimous agreement, then language is just another tool for conflict. By definition, language has a form and a function. A form that is clearly perceivable and a function to disagree and have altercations. Variety is the spice of life? The oldest war still continues.
So a best friend, so to speak, would be someone whom you don’t HAVE to communicate with. Cos both your priorities and general aim are the same; I would assume there must be agreement for the most part.

So does that also mean language enables us to lie? Do animals lie? They don’t; there is deception, but that is directly related to survival. Without the deception of camouflage, a moth will be seen and eaten, for example. It’s very real and very immediate, and in fact their deception isn’t even guaranteed to succeed every single time. And we don’t even have to talk about untruths. Complexity in language brings superlatives and these allow for exaggeration. Tone and volume and pitch of voice and facial expression allow for further deception. Do animals have humour? Is wit human-exclusive?

Apparently even chimps like to hug and kiss and in general behave a bit more humanly than me; I feel inadequate.

Human language seems to be very object-oriented [I would think this is a consequence of culture and technological advancement] as compared to wild animal communication, which is very action-oriented. Isn’t that why, overlooking the lack of appropriate vocalisation apparatus, animals can’t be taught human languages in any form that significantly matches the abilities of a human adult? They can understand a bit, and even that takes some time, and they only pick up on keywords and associate them with concepts they can grasp after much trial-and-error. BUT they can’t seem to pick up grammar. Because grammar isn’t necessary to them.

Language fundamentally is constructed from signs, iconic or indexical, and symbols. Here we’re going into the realm of memetics. My prof defined these very simply and elegantly.

Iconic sign: X is like Y
Indexical sign: X indicates Y
Symbol: X stands for Y

As you can see, symbols require some form of mental substitution, and is considered an ability of higher intellect than most animals have. But from the definition itself, we can see that symbols are by far the most malleable in terms of meaning.. This should mean they’re more useful, but it also implies their meaning is corruptible. It is this quality that lends itself to metaphors and imagery that couldn’t be possible seen without expensive CGI [“the shit hits the fan!” for example :p ], and perhaps not even then.
On a related note, are archetypes iconic signs or symbols?

And so, I leave you with a very comprehensive study done by one of the founding fathers of modern linguistics. About the 13 design principles of human language. Human language is built upon, AND presupposes, symbolic thinking.

The search for truth continues. [Cue X-files titles theme]


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