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A Continuum in Language—How do we communicate?

Posted by encouraged , in Linguistics 25 January 2012 · 813 views

There are things that can be a p[art of a debate that should not be. As we all know, verbiage can be used to mislead people.

I can say, "The color of the cow's leaves was blue." And thereby imply and/or reveal:
. a cow grows leaves
. the leaves a cow grows are blue
. something is wrong with my grasp on reality
. nobody should ever believe anything I say
Saying something by no means makes it true, even when it is well crafted and decorated with lovely prose.

Communication takes place along a continuum composed of degrees of accuracy/vagueness. Different languages reside at different locations along that continuum. In my experience, the end points of the continuum would be:
1. the Boolean nine volume proof of 1 + 1 = 2 --extreem of precision
2. the youTube twin-baby-talk verbal exchange --extreem of vagueness

Both illustrate how we are capable of communicating all day without saying anything (1) like many debates on UM, and (2) (my friend) Dr. Kenneth Pike's oratory on how speechless he is from receiving the honor a person bestowed on him. (I wish that were on YouTube!) And that joint illustration illustrates the need for a given language to reside at just the right point on the continuum in order for it to be capable of meaningful, extraneous, extramural, and legislative abilities for all the needs of a society's communications.

Some people like to use those properties to win arguments--in one debate they are on the side of black, the next time the debate comes up, they are on the side of white--arguments of most any kind because of the blessing, or perhaps the curse, of having a golden tongue, which can be used to take advantage of those not so well gifted of tongue. Thus, the reason for:
. rules in a debate
. predicate calculus
. why John Q. Public innately hates politicians and lawyers!

I offer an example: "Because I have the ability to interpolate [logarithmic scales--meaning 3] is why I can prove my point [meaning 1 or 2] so well in conversations."

IN-TER-PO-LATE 1 : to change (as a text) by inserting new or foreign matter 2 : to insert (as words) into a text or into a conversation 3 : to estimate values of (a function) between two known values.

Immediately above is a word that has three senses of meaning (three meanings). In the sentence above that definition is an example of how some win an argument with the misuse of their gifted golden tongue, when a vague construction of a sentence is not available for the purpose of "turning" the meaning in midstream of the debate. (It isn't a good example because I don't use that form of debate, but truth, and thereby am poor at finding a good example.)

He states his extraordinary ability to be accurate in a procedure engineers have to master, which is the third sense of the word. Then in the same sentence--usually it comes later, so the meaning of the pivotal word is no longer fresh in the mind of his opponent--he uses the same word but not the same meaning of the word, having changed to the first or second dictionary sense of the word. (We often do this inside of jokes.) The result is a "turn" in what is supposed to be a clear, smooth, logical--stepping stone by stepping stone--explanation of his side of the argument. But he tries to slip in a kink, thereby interpolating the matter in mid-sentence.

And when he is finished his ego is stroked, the shot in self-esteem is delivered, and his score in the golden tongue debating awards reaches the level of "bragging rights" among his friends.

I prefer to get my juice by using the truth of what I see to unmask people who have the appearance of good will, but the web of a deadly spider, ready to deploy in a debate. If you know what I mean.

Jan 26 2012 01:45 AM
Nicely said, Mr.e. I enjoyed reading this.
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