[...] versus (...)

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Re: [...] versus (...)

Postby Skymning » Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:58 pm

This became half an essay. TL;DR: I disagree, but not diametrically.

quetzalcoatl wrote:You need perimeters and to re-evaluate them, linguistic chaos would be a nightmare I agree. Tools do also make a massive difference, ease of use is key [as is the layout of the keyboard/keypad] in these times.

Perhaps proper grammar is just too clumsy for the times we are moving into. I’d like language to become increasingly streamlined, though still with rules.

Lets face it, the chaps who write/re-write those rules are always going to be Oxbridge types rather than relatively uneducated working class dudes like me, so I doubt there’s any worries about grammar and its rules being overturned [the English language wasn’t even used/acceptible in the dictionary until the 15th C if I remember correctly]. In fact I’d go so far as to say that it needs challenges in order to remain fluid, and I uphold the ignorance value in the first part of my last post.


I'm not worried about grammar and rules being overturned. They will change, but in terms content/meaning and style of execution and hardly very much in terms of structure, i.e. basic syntax and the function of certain symbols. And I do agree that both English and presumably every other language needs challenges, as thinking needs challenges. Sometimes it is useful to re-learn things, genuinely going back to basics just in order to understand them anew. However, I do take issue with "the ignorance value" simply because I think you're wrong about that. Here's why:

quetzalcoatl wrote:
Skymning wrote: in general, you have to know the rules before you can successfully break them.


No, you can ignore them because you hold to your own values, different cultures do this to one another’s rules, this is why they have different rules and language. I find people are often complaining about incorrect pronunciations of foreign cities, foods, goods etc, and yet we would not have a different languages if we all pronounced one another’s terms correctly. This ignorance is exactly why we have slang, accents regional differences and languages.
I say tomato you say tomédo


The key word is successfully, so you misunderstood me completely. Of course you can break rules without knowing them explicitly, but chances are you will get into trouble. Neither is grammar a set of values. It is observation and attempts to describe the structure of language as it is actually and for the most part used. Correct grammar is the use that best conveys meaning according to (rather heuristic) rules, and successful tweaking of (or even breaking of) grammatical rules would be a situated improvement of this "best conveyance". Ignore that, and you're lucky if you're hailed as a great stylists. For example, assembling IKEA furniture in a way that has the specific point of suiting your needs rather than the manufacturers. Still you would do well to understand the "correct" way of putting that particular piece of furniture together to be able to actually improve upon it. Otherwise buying it would be rather pointless in the first place/attempting to sound cool just for the sake of coolness is pointless if it makes you look like a complete ass to someone who actually understands grammar.

About language and differences in general, based on your post: If S = subject, O = object, and V = verb, some natural languages are SVO, others SOV, still others VSO. Very few are OSV, OVS, or VOS, but they are there. They form around privileged usages and meanings, in ways largely determined by the origin and history of that language -- which pretty much is to say the history of the people speaking it. They seldom or never form in opposition to one another. This, not "incorrect pronunciation of another's terms" or "ignorance of another's rules", is the reason for the multitude of languages.

Mispronunciation this is not due to value or ignorance so much as phonology -- not every language is capable of reproducing every sound, and thus, if a person is a native speaker of one language he or she may well lack that particular sound. Values are secondary, but they may exaggerate a difficulty due to intentional distancing. Mispronunciation in order to make a point, for example.

Slang, accents, regional differences, etc, are not mainly due to values, but to distance from other regions, actual or due to heritage. Values are usually an effect of this distance, sometimes a secondary or effective cause. For instance, when I talk to people from the part of Sweden where I was born, I immediately fall into that dialect and during the conversation we usually exaggerate our common dialect precisely because it is common. This is not because it is necessarily valued as such, but because it is a way of communicating group membership. Sometimes this distance is intentional, for example in the case of slang. Effectively, this sets that particular subgroup apart from the rest of society, at least superficially.

(About the classical tomato/tomato distinction, this distance/value-relationship is overturned when it comes to secondary languages. I say not [tomeido] but [to'ma:to], like the British, because I feel more at home in the typically anglophile style sense than in the American counterpart. So it is a way for me to communicate another type of group membership, i.e. the group of anglophiles. Value may arguably be what drew me there, not distance/proximity as most Swedes tend to sound more American than British -- that is, if they actually can speak English at all without sounding like Sven-Göran Eriksson -- because of the influence of American culture on our society. So, in the case of secondary languages, accent and so on may turn on either value, distance or ability, whereas the argument otherwise concerns native speakers of a given language.)

Ignorance is most likely not a cause at all, at least not primarily, and this is why: The formation of languages/cultures/styles/what have you does not necessarily have to imply a "holding onto to ones own values" at all, and in fact I'm quite sure that is never the case. Instead it is a holding onto the shared values of the linguistically formed groups and subgroups. These values are always superficial, and the root of them is never explicit, it is never some particular person's or group's set of values that is the pivot of even a subculture; instead they are implicit as "what one values", where "one" is the collective as a whole. References to "what one values" are always vague, as they cannot be otherwise. [EDIT: In the case of repetition of what, say, a political leader or faction proclaims, sure, the root of those values is seemingly explicit. However, it turns on the belief of how those values actually apply in a given situation -- this is where vagueness comes in, and therefore, the One/the They. "I will go about business as they do, and I will value what one values", etc.]

I'm not asking for conformity at all -- in fact, I despise mindless conformity -- but I ask for common ground and, for those capable of it and for situations and needs motivating it, improvements of best use. This may well be poetic.

quetzalquatl wrote:Chances are that as computers become more intelligent we wont even be able to misuse grammar, have you considered that! :)


I have. But I prefer thinking for myself. Unfortunately, the majority of society seems to absolutely hate thinking at all. No news there. But because of that, it is unlikely that they would understand grammar better just because a computer told them how it works.
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Re: [...] versus (...)

Postby Amorphos » Tue Nov 01, 2011 12:58 am

The ikea thing; if you had the complete set of shapes and designs of all furniture, then you could rearrange them to ones hearts consent. Language of any culture has the complete [or nearly] set. French for example uses sentence structure in almost the opposite way to English, both contain complete sets.

Very few are OSV, OVS, or VOS


Indeed we are subjective entities, which is very much what all of this is about. Language is personal and cultural [and sub-cultural], it is what things mean to us and yet there is no universal ‘us’ in the equation.

This, not "incorrect pronunciation of another's terms" or "ignorance of another's rules", is the reason for the multitude of languages.


Same thing, we English refer to München as ‘Munich’ for one of those reasons, probably the former or in translation the later. If cultures were not disparate entities then we’d all be speaking the same language, but what makes that so? …surely it comes down to that very subjectivity which is fundamental to how we understand things.

Mispronunciation this is not due to value or ignorance so much as phonology -- not every language is capable of reproducing every sound, and thus, if a person is a native speaker of one language he or she may well lack that particular sound. Values are secondary, but they may exaggerate a difficulty due to intentional distancing. Mispronunciation in order to make a point, for example.


Are not the sound structures of said languages formed for the same reasons as every other difference between languages? I agree that eventually some speakers may loose the ability to say certain sounds.
What I meant about language and ignorance is that even if you begin with the same language, like Chinese whispers that change from one listener to the next in a sequence, you end up with a different set at either end. Now once those disparate sets are formed you then have different ways of evaluating sounds and meanings. In translation München becomes ‘Munich’ because the English are at the other end of the line the cultures at the base level rarely met in the past so there is an ethnic desire to refute the original, there is both a disconnection between one speaker and the other and a line of translated sounds prejudiced by the subjective interpreter at each stage of its journey.

After all if you had two adequate listeners and speakers of a term, then there would be no such disconnect ~ that’s why people in the same local speak similarly or virtually the same.

I see the latter part of your post says something similar, indeed accents are ‘catching’.

I didn’t know ‘Munich’ was properly spoken as München until I had a German girlfriend from there ~ see, ignorance! One group is not part of the chain of transformation, it just continues by itself!
.
I have. But I prefer thinking for myself. Unfortunately, the majority of society seems to absolutely hate thinking at all. No news there. But because of that, it is unlikely that they would understand grammar better just because a computer told them how it works.


My spellchecker changes some words as I go, other versions change all incorrect spellings. What may occur is that grammar and spelling are corrected automatically and then we wont even know the meaning of it all.
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Re: [...] versus (...)

Postby Skymning » Tue Nov 01, 2011 1:45 am

Having a set implies some familiarity with the set's contents as such. How the set of a particular language differs from another is surely not due to ignorance of any kind, as not all languages need every piece of some ideal set (as they may solve a certain grammatical issue differently relative to one another, for instance), but to regional preferences. So, yes, if you had the complete set and thereby was familiar with what it is and what is in it, then you would be able to put together anything you want from it. But it may not make sense to others. But if you were not just familiar with it but had detailed knowledge about it, they it would have a greater chance of making sense to others. And it is with others we communicate, isn't it? Communication implies community. (That said, communication seems to fail more than it succeeds, but this is secondary to grammar.) [EDIT: I never posited any universal "us". Closest to that is the They, which is a mode of being. It may well be different in terms of what the They dictates, but in terms of structure it is similar to something "universal". Still, it is no "us".)

Post hoc. Ignorance is an effect of Chinese whispers, it is not the cause. The last person in the chain utters what she thinks the person before her said, and perforce, what she thinks the first person said -- albeit perhaps without much confidence. She wouldn't have said it without having a (positive) reason to, and this reason can never be just ignorance (which always is negative). Same thing with München/Munich. Language is first and foremost communal and what gives rise to society as a whole and not as a more or less definite number of individuals. What we're talking about here is Wittgensteinean language games (or Sprachspiele, which doesn't quite mean "game"). My point is language and individuals cannot be analysed the same way. Language is not subjective even though we, as individuals, have subjectivity. That would make language impossible. So while we seem to agree about locale/group, we disagree about the role of ignorance. Correct?

About mispronunciation: actually, most speakers may never have the ability to utter a certain sound at all other than before they learn any language. For instance, Vietnamese has twelve or so phonemes. Swedish has nine, meaning we can reproduce all but three sounds. English seems to have fewer (you lack our sounds "ö" and "y" for instance) though I am not sure about the number. But if this is right, you have seven phonemes. Thus, native speakers of English can reproduce all basic Vietnamese sounds but, say, five. This is not due to ignorance, but to growing up within a certain language, that is, within a certain community within which said language is spoken as a matter of course, and in which the need for certain sounds never normally arises.

Anyway, grammar. It's good for you and it is determined communally, i.e. your language is always the language of a community determining your use of it to a vast extent. Wittgenstein made a famous argument to that effect. Heidegger's analyses of das Man/the One/the They and language are fantastic. Time for me to go to sleep now, nice chatting with you.

Oh, about spellchecking: Yes, exactly. I object to that because maybe one's "improvement of best usage" requires an intentional misspelling or an unusual use of a symbol -- and, mind you, knowledge of the correct use is implicit here. If, over time, one could no longer even imagine such grammatical tweaks because of spellcheckers effectively making them impossible that would also make certain ways of thinking impossible.

EDIT: Can't believe I didn't think about this yesterday. If ignorance really played a primary part in the formation of languages, and if languages were really subjectively constructed, the chances of tracing the history of a given language would be slim. What allows us to write histories of languages with some confidence is literatures and other textual records -- i.e., common use. That persons (and sometimes alarmingly large numbers of persons) frequently have misconceptions about words and phrases, and thereby use similar sounding but nonsensical "alternatives" that are either not words in the first place or words with entirely different meanings, is due to something like Chinese whispers. (Great example by the way.) That they don't bother to think about what their "alternative" really means and attempt to correct it, for example by considering similar sounding words or phrases or by asking someone knowledgeable, is likely due to laziness and/or downright stupidity. Again, ignorance is the effect, and something that can be inferred by the linguist by comparison to the actual phrase or word when and if that is found. The above is for mistakes within a language. Misconceptions across languages are different, but not entirely. In the case of München/Munich, this is the same word found within different languages with different phonologies. Munich is not so much a misconception as it is the most common attempt at reproducing a foreign word in one's native tounge. Sometimes it means transformation because of the origin of the language: English is influenced by French and Latin, which are Romantic languages, and by the language spoken by the Saxons, which was a Germanic language. The former gave much of the vocabulary, the latter much of the structure. Over time, something else (Old English/Anglosaxon) appeared -- not due to ignorance, but due to relative isolation. (Due to distance in both linguistic and spatial terms.) Certain ways of constructing words and of pronouncing them were privileged, others fell out of use. This is determined by the community as a whole, not by individual speakers. Ignorance is thus never originary, has little "scientific" credence, and the inference thereof says more about certain users than about the language as such.

But this was quite thought provoking. I appreciate it.

EDIT: Said something wrong, corrected it.
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Re: [...] versus (...)

Postby Sky » Tue Nov 01, 2011 2:00 pm

Skymning wrote:
Sky wrote: Yes, it is confusing either way - used correctly or incorrectly.


No, that's not my point at all. Symbols are tools, and as such they have specific uses. Correct use always makes sense (at least grammatically) whereas incorrect use may well render a clause completely incomprehensible. Now, I'm not against creative use at all -- you should see some of my "literary" attempts, where much hinges on symbols and therefore the reader's familiarity with their normal use is key. What I am against is ignorance on the writer's part. Creativity should be genuine.

What may be found confusing in some cases, despite technical correctness, is correct but unclear use. This confusion is easily amended by going back in the text and counting opening parentheses; "(". Double parantheses may lead the reader to think the first paranthesis is finished, especially if the inserted clauses are long. Soon enough he or she will be made aware of the mistake, for example by finding the final parenthesis; ")". That's why it can be helpful to use brackets in such cases. Grammatical symbols and diacriticals are there, complete with rules for use and interpretation, for a very good reason -- namely, to help reading and understanding by clarifying the text. To keep confusion to a minimum. This is entirely undone if they are used arbitrarily or inconsistently, for example by a writer who is unfamiliar with their function and the rules that govern their use.

Sky wrote:Our typing takes on the appearance of our tone.
When used correctly a person can appear to be intelligent and uptight. (A person who 'thinks' too much)

When used incorrectly with confidence a person may appear creative (free thinker)

Or a knuckle head trying too hard 'either way'
Typing is the new hand writing.
Write with confidence and you will be fine. Few will really know, if they call you out they will appear uptight.
Unless of course you are an Editor, then you must KNOW the rules.
Symbols are the new cursive ;) keep it classy.


Sure, but in general, you have to know the rules before you can successfully break them. If you do and use symbols creatively in a text that will be edited by someone else, you have to convince the editor of the merit of your creativeness. You have to have a point, which ideally should be obvious. For example, if I were to try and publish my attempts at literature, complete with symbols in odd places, I'd be at the mercy of the editor. If he or she were to object that an odd final parenthesis somewhere was completely unintelligible despite my best efforts, I would either have to acknowledge that apparently my point wasn't all that convincing, and remove the offending symbol. Alternatively I would have to try my luck with another editor, preferably someone who might actually get it.

Moreover, the use of symbols like the ones mentioned originated long before typing. Their fundamental meaning qua grammatical symbol in a natural language-text is the same regardless of how the text was produced. If anything, they are the same old symbols with the same old functions. What has changed, i.e., what is somewhat new (or at least different), is i) the way the symbols are interpreted, and ii) the average writer's command of them. Outside the purely grammatical functions, they can -- and will -- set the mood or their presence/absence indicative of someone's individual style of writing, like you say. For example, Gertrude Stein is famous for her strong views on the matter. She objected even to question marks as she found it obvious that a question was a question. She also regarded full stops as a necessary evil. That said, she most likely knew the rules inside out. These rules should not be forgotten in favour of personal idiosyncrasies. One may bend them, twist them, disregard them, which is fine and sometimes admirable given at least basic familiarity with them. But one should never wear one's ignorance like a badge. It's not very sightly.

(The last remark is not an accusation, so please do not take it that way.)

Sky wrote:I did appreciate the Skybear in bold. It caught my eye.


Aye, that was the point. Glad you liked it.

EDIT: Nothing dramatic.
EDIT II: A bit on creativity, inspired by Calrid's post below.


No, of course it was not the point you were making. I made a point using your point.
that symbols used correctly can be as confusing as symbols used incorrectly.
The majority of people will not know or understand 'correct' grammar. Good grammar is pleasing to read, 'correct grammar' can be dry and blah. (Lacking flow)
Some will be read by the majority and some will be read by the minority.
Sometimes less is more
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Re: [...] versus (...)

Postby Sky » Tue Nov 01, 2011 2:09 pm

Calrid wrote:Yeah a lot of poets tend to run rough shod over these rules which are probably better sometimes as a guide to those gifted with language rather than considered an improper use of grammar, of which there are fewer than many realise.

It's not true for example that you should not use split infinitives, often language is rendered ugly when the reverse is used or does not render the phrase as powerful. To go boldly being the most famous, it grates compared to, to boldly go which adds a greater imperative to the text and sounds more aesthetically pleasing.


If we had a 'like option. I would have liked this post.
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Re: [...] versus (...)

Postby Skymning » Tue Nov 01, 2011 8:50 pm

Sky wrote: No, of course it was not the point you were making. I made a point using your point.
that symbols used correctly can be as confusing as symbols used incorrectly.
The majority of people will not know or understand 'correct' grammar. Good grammar is pleasing to read, 'correct grammar' can be dry and blah. (Lacking flow)
Some will be read by the majority and some will be read by the minority.
Sometimes less is more


Actually, you said it was as confusing either way. I have no problem with the conditional claim, and we are in agreement about balance. I'd be a hypocrite otherwise. Still I maintain that impeccable grammar always makes grammatical sense, despite running the very real risk of dryness. Even so, while it may not make much sense to the majority of people (perhaps because their grammatic knowledge is, by definition, average), that's their problem. (Or, like you pointed out, it is the author's problem ... that is, if he or she wanted to reach a wide audience in the first place.)
Good grammar allows for what I called "improvements on best use" (in fact it would in itself be a stylistic improvement on impeccable grammar), and it is a prerequisite for genuine creativity and style. Poor or abysmal grammar, on the other hand, runs the risk of seeming like or in fact being total nonsense unworthy of anyones time. By this I mean sloppy writing or "creative" grammar due to ignorance or feigned dyslexia (as opposed to actual dyslexia, which is comparatively rare).

A point on over-correction, just so I don't look like I endorse that: While it makes grammatical sense, it is also not good English (or Swedish, or whatever language one speaks). It is about as daring as is wearing braces and a belt: You may not drop your pants, but you will also look silly.

A question to quetzalquatl: What do you mean by "~"? Forgot to ask earlier. You said you used it for conciseness, so I've been interpreting it as meaning 'approximately' or something like that. Then again, you seem to use it where I would have put "--", that is, for emphasis. Which is it?
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Re: [...] versus (...)

Postby Amorphos » Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:07 pm

It’s a pleasure speaking with you to skymning, I may be being ignorant myself, language is certainly not my specialty, but its my philosophical duty to mull through it with you in order to know that is the case.
-------------

if you were not just familiar with it but had detailed knowledge about it, then it would have a greater chance of making sense to others. And it is with others we communicate, isn't it? Communication implies community.


Certainly this is language at its finest, a perfect communication of meaning. However I can do that as long as you know my method which in this case is self evident or at worst can be asked about. I expect everyone here knew how some of us have been using [] for subtext or further description arrived at in the simplest manner.
As to community, well there are many disparate communities, there is not however a perfect flow of communications nor even language, things diverge and settle, then where they settle they evolve and hence there are regionalised differences of that evolution. Then when those localised entities cross-fertilise - so to say, there must be an ‘ignorance’ because one localised evolution is not known to the given other.

This to me seams like a general rule with cultural dispersal too ~ they probably go hand in hand, as breeding is binary one can calculate that after a certain amount of interactions/offspring, the whole of humanity are related. However its not that simple, we have groups like e.g. Chinese/English, some Chinese people are not related to me bar a common ancestor [mitochondrial eve], but that ancestor is prior to the direct line from me to those I am related too [via a Greek, Persian, W. Chinese connection].

See its not analogously like ‘roads’ whereby language and communications are all directly connected. You have many layers of roads throughout time, in some places they meet in others they don’t.
.
Language is not subjective even though we, as individuals, have subjectivity. That would make language impossible. So while we seem to agree about locale/group, we disagree about the role of ignorance. Correct?


Perhaps. I don’t think subjectivity makes language impossible, when we read we assess the content subjectively but nearly all the time that’s a first hand experience.
{What I mean by that is; with Chinese whispers there is a slight difference in the way individuals speak and listen, hence the sound structure changes each time it moves from one person to the next. If however each person [in the line performing the whispers] passed a piece of paper with some text on it, the communication in each instance would be ‘first hand experience’. god knows how chaotic language must have been prior to the written word}.
Subjectivity is not absolute imho, there are nearly always derivatives [memory repetitions etc,] and so connections can be made accordingly. I think I can agree that language itself is not subjective, however that is dependent upon the content, where the meanings are simple they can be correlated with absolute clarity, but where the meanings are more abstract, metaphoric or poetic, then language itself gains subjectivity, no?

Now here again if we begin with say a common religious notion like femininity as ‘mother earth’, one culture will keep that as it is while another will evolve the meaning e.g. Celts changed it to the ‘triple goddess’, denoting femininity as; the maiden [virgin], the bride [mother] and crone [old hag]. If a celt met a mongol or hun [whatever they were back then {xiong-nu perhaps}] and described a mongol child using a term which means mother/feminine, the mongol may become suitably confused.
That is not the best example of course, but it shows abstract meanings or otherwise interpreted ones make language subjective. …?
.
EDIT: Can't believe I didn't think about this yesterday. If ignorance really played a primary part in the formation of languages, and if languages were really subjectively constructed, the chances of tracing the history of a given language would be slim.


There are instances where a term from one language has to be used loosely, which suggests subjectivity. however in the main language between peoples has had to be concise and specific for trading purposes and diplomacy etc. therefore one can assume that subjectivity is ironed out to the best degree possible.
This applies to alphabets too, the Chinese symbol for ‘world’ means ‘circles within circles’, ‘house’ combines ‘container’ with ‘inhabited’ [if I remember correctly], and so even the basic level is often interpreted when being explained from one party to the next.

‘Common use’ occurs when you take steps to strip out miscommunications and therefore subjectivity.
The point is that when you have ‘have misconceptions about words and phrases’ they can be re-interpreted correctly or they can become ‘organic’ - let us say, and other terms may evolve from that other kind of ignorance. Naturally efforts will always be made to bring such occurrences back into the fold, and as they mostly will be simple describing worldly objects or common meanings, then when explained to a foreigner one will always find similes.
.
Munich is not so much a misconception as it is the most common attempt at reproducing a foreign word in one's native tongue.


I take your point but ‘munching’ is similar in English to München. Maybe it’s a misinterpretation from text, to look at the word one may well think the h is silent, or that muni‘k’ derived from Muni‘ch’. I notice that many irish people say the term ‘anything’ using the ‘a’ sound structure, where usually an ‘e’ is pronounced. Perhaps this came from them being taught English from a book!

Thought provoking indeed! :)
.
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Re: [...] versus (...)

Postby Amorphos » Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:17 pm

A question to quetzalquatl: What do you mean by "~"? Forgot to ask earlier. You said you used it for conciseness, so I've been interpreting it as meaning 'approximately' or something like that. Then again, you seem to use it where I would have put "--", that is, for emphasis. Which is it?


I use it where an over explanation would otherwise occur, to cut things short ~ I see the shape as ‘taking one to this and moving on’ - if that makes any sense [-is different/supplimental where ~ is jumping to a different part of the sentence for shortness ~ expecting one to know what’s in-between or otherwise meant].
Sometimes I am using [] in a demi-mathematical sense too ~ its all about summarising and directness for me.
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Re: [...] versus (...)

Postby Skymning » Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:36 pm

quetzalcoatl wrote:
A question to quetzalquatl: What do you mean by "~"? Forgot to ask earlier. You said you used it for conciseness, so I've been interpreting it as meaning 'approximately' or something like that. Then again, you seem to use it where I would have put "--", that is, for emphasis. Which is it?


I use it where an over explanation would otherwise occur, to cut things short ~ I see the shape as ‘taking one to this and moving on’ - if that makes any sense [-is different/supplimental where ~ is jumping to a different part of the sentence for shortness ~ expecting one to know what’s in-between or otherwise meant].
Sometimes I am using [] in a demi-mathematical sense too ~ its all about summarising and directness for me.


Right. It makes sense, but not grammatically. Or, it makes grammatical sense given the definition you just gave. But it's quite esoteric. What do brackets mean, demi-mathematically?

EDIT: Looked it up. "Calculate expression inside first". So let me rephrase: how does that work in written conversation? Are we to interpret the rest of the sentence in the light of what is bracketed? If so, how does that differ from emphatic expressions?
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Re: [...] versus (...)

Postby Skymning » Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:45 pm

quetzalcoatl wrote: [Lots of very interesting stuff]


I haven't the time to answer this in full right now. If you feel I've missed something important below, please point it out and I'll get back later on.

Communication is never, ever, perfect communication of meaning. Common use is always comparatively superficial, in terms of meaning at any rate, because understanding is always interpretation. The They is not particularly fond of reasoning, so to speak. In order to communicate successfully we therefore have to interpret the language we use (and the received correct or good use, which, as said, is always to a vast degree determined communally) differently, that is, based on our current and perhaps situational needs. One might say we, when we want to analyse language, have to reinvent it by way of subjectivising it, by interpreting it in a comparatively deep fashion.

Then, when we want to communicate what we mean, we must find a way to express our several meanings intersubjectively. This is in part always already "done" or "allowed for", given the intersubjective -- because communal -- nature of language: we may use largely the same vocabulary with relative ease. We know the superficial, that is common, meaning of the words because we know the language, for instance by having grown up within it. But if we use some words "subjectively", being very specific about meaning (which may differ considerably from common use), we must approximate these meanings with an insufficient means to do so -- namely, received vocabulary --, relying very much on context and composition to get our point across. Or, and this is the hard way to do it, we may redefine words explicitly, come up with a suitable metalanguage (such as formal logic with specialised variables), introduce neologisms, and so on.

It seems, and correct me if I'm wrong, that you've skipped the first step in favour of the second.* That way, language would indeed seem to be subjective. In many ways it has become subjectivised, or "gained subjectivity" like you say, but that doesn't affect the language as such unless the specialised use becomes common use, either fully or in part, either for the whole of the speakers of a given language, or for a subgroup. This is the case for all disciplines with a technical vocabulary. Kuhn makes a great point about that in his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. (Excellent book, if you haven't already read it I strongly recommend it. Make sure you get the third and final edition, though.)

* Conversely, I have intentionally focused on the first step as that is how language primarily and for the most part presents itself. What I meant earlier was that natural languages are not subjective originally, which indeed would be impossible if a (not the) condition of 'language' is that it is something that can, more or less successfully, be used to communicate with another person. "Success" means that it would be reasonable to expect some level of understanding on the part of the other.

That said, language is not my speciality either. It is a great interest though, and one which we seem to share to some extent. Quite naturally, we seem to go about the problems from our resp. strongest sides. If yours is mathematics (I gather as much from your use of symbols), mine is ontology. Specifically Heideggerian (or phenomenological) ontology, hence the references to the They.
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Re: [...] versus (...)

Postby Amorphos » Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:54 am

If I may I’d like to consider this further, it seams your thinking is linear and derivative, which is probably the best way to understand linguistic connections. Whereas I am focusing on the disparate nature where there are no or limited connections.

Fascinating stuff!

It would help if you replied in quotes to specific points so I could follow your objections, though I like your refusal to do so. :)
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