Defining the core of language

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lpdev
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by lpdev » Thu Nov 02, 2017 1:48 pm

I agree that there are words whose meaning shift in time, but i totally disagree that all words do that. Now, i have to distinguish between two cases first. I will call it "the shifting of meaning" and "the shifting of syntax". The shifting of meaning is when a word gets a new meaning, the shifting of syntax is when a meaning gets a new word. Both can happen in society and may then be adapted in the dictionary. My point is that there are exact meanings and science tries to associate those meanings to one word by using definitions. This word is meant to be timeless and non shifting in both of the above mentioned types of shifts. Such precise meanings would be motion, temperature, equality, topology etc. But there are other words not defined in science that can also be defined exactly, that's what i think at least. Those would be object, action, structure, intention etc..., in short, those i try to list in my first post and with more to come. Those are all words, if you take them in their most abstract meaning (i know that structure may mean a building but this, again, is a homonym), that you will find in other languages having the same exact meaning. Of course there are numerous ways to muddle the puddle. Here are some that came to mind:

Homonyms, the identical word with different meanings in different contexts.

A word with a meaning dependent on the society, this is nothing else than having different societies with different languages, only that the one reuses the word for another purpose.

Words in figure of speeches may have a different meaning than that word on it's own. I came across two of those that have the same meaning (i think) using completely different wordings: It now lays in the hands of God/The dices have been thrown. I don't include figure of speeches in the core.

Vague properties are also inexact which is why science doesn't use them, and me neither. Examples would be greenish, tall, hot, boyish etc... All those words mean different things dependent on the individual experience. But here one could make a case on replacing those kinds of words by either precise values of measurement or intervals.

Sometimes words are also meant in an associative way. I already mentioned the example of "He was gunned down". Replace it with "He was killed with a gun" and that associative meaning of "gun" isn't needed.

As i see it, every time a word is used and the meaning is not clear, like in "brick", you have to include specifiers or specify the exact context in which the word is used or simply invent a new word. Now, i perfectly understand that many words, especially those that mean a real object or experience, are way to complex to describe. Like the word "tree". To define exactly what constitutes a tree and what not (i personally would rather talk about degree of resemblance towards the default/ideal form of a tree, which would have to be defined objectively), would be a task way beyond difficult, with so many factors to be accounted for. But that's why there are no such words in my list. I would not consider real objects that we can experience by seeing and touching as necessary to be included into a core of a language. They constitute vocabulary that is learned not the abstract "kit" that holds everything together.

As of Wittgenstein, i have heard of the attempt to find the primal components of language, but don't know on how he tried it and why he thought it impossible. I'm not even sure if it is the same as what i try to do with my definitions, i think not. But as mathematics define a lot of precise vocabulary, it's obvious that it is likely to be possible for more words.

Viveka
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Viveka » Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:39 pm

Belinda wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:06 am
Viveka wrote:
If we are to define internal state for an object, it must necessarily deal with something 'inside' of it. An electron has nothing 'inside' of it, except for maybe what we call consciousness.
Would you say then that an electron is what an electron does? I understand this is the case. We could claim that about a human individual , or a fly, that what it is is what it does for as long as it exists as an entity.

Language is something humans do and it has no inside: it is open-endedly creative. Isn't information open-ended?
Generally what an electron does would be equivalent to giving a verb to a noun,and I wouldn't consider the verb to be 'inside' the noun. The action of an electron, to me, seems to be something 'horizontal' while the 'inside' of the electron would be 'vertical'. For instance, a proton would have an 'inside' as 3 quarks of two up and one down, which would be 'vertical' in that it describes a deeper level of 'inside' while the quark's action would be the strong force, which is not necessarily 'inside' the quarks, hence 'horizontal.'

Londoner
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Londoner » Fri Nov 03, 2017 11:21 am

lpdev wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 1:48 pm
I agree that there are words whose meaning shift in time, but i totally disagree that all words do that. Now, i have to distinguish between two cases first. I will call it "the shifting of meaning" and "the shifting of syntax". The shifting of meaning is when a word gets a new meaning, the shifting of syntax is when a meaning gets a new word. Both can happen in society and may then be adapted in the dictionary. My point is that there are exact meanings and science tries to associate those meanings to one word by using definitions. This word is meant to be timeless and non shifting in both of the above mentioned types of shifts. Such precise meanings would be motion, temperature, equality, topology etc. But there are other words not defined in science that can also be defined exactly, that's what i think at least. Those would be object, action, structure, intention etc..., in short, those i try to list in my first post and with more to come. Those are all words, if you take them in their most abstract meaning (i know that structure may mean a building but this, again, is a homonym), that you will find in other languages having the same exact meaning. Of course there are numerous ways to muddle the puddle.
The examples you give of words with precise meanings are not as clear cut as you suggest. For example, 'temperature' is a description of a feeling, in which case it is a subjective perception that differs from person to person.

If we tried to avoid that by saying that the meaning of 'temperature' was 'the reading shown by a thermometer' then our definition becomes circular, 'temperature' is simply a synonym for some other words, it has nothing to do with any physical state.

Or, if we wanted to give a meaning to 'temperature' by explaining the significance of 'the reading shown by a thermometer' then we would have to link what happens to a thermometer with our general understanding of physics. Thus the meaning of that one word: 'temperature' ends up hanging on all science as a system (which system is of course is under constant revision).
As i see it, every time a word is used and the meaning is not clear, like in "brick", you have to include specifiers or specify the exact context in which the word is used or simply invent a new word.
I do not think you can specify in that way. All the words you used in your specification would also need to be pinned down, and what are you pinning them to? Yet more words. You can only get out of the circularity if you can attach the meaning of a word to something which is not a word, for example an empirical experience. But then the problem is that your experience is personal to you.

And if you invent a new word, one that exactly fits your empirical experience, then you cannot communicate it. How could you teach anybody else what you meant by that new word, since it describes something that they can have no access to?
I would not consider real objects that we can experience by seeing and touching as necessary to be included into a core of a language. They constitute vocabulary that is learned not the abstract "kit" that holds everything together.
If we leave out words that refer to sensations, what are the remaining words referring to? It can only be to each other, in which case we are back with circularity.

It is as if we decided to separate number from the idea of quantity. One could do that, but then maths is nothing but a tautology. We could define the meaning of one number against the meaning of another number, but the way we did so would be arbitrary. For example, in my system I could say '2+2 means 4, except on Wednesdays, when it means 6'. Since numbers would not refer to anything outside the system, any system would be as good as any other.

So certainly we could define non-referring words against each other, but then our definitions would be arbitrary. No definition would be true.
As of Wittgenstein, i have heard of the attempt to find the primal components of language, but don't know on how he tried it and why he thought it impossible. I'm not even sure if it is the same as what i try to do with my definitions, i think not. But as mathematics define a lot of precise vocabulary, it's obvious that it is likely to be possible for more words.
Wittgenstein attempted to distinguish between the parts of language that refer, i.e. names, and the parts that relate such references to each other. The hope was that it would resemble maths, where you can distinguish the numbers from the connectives like +, = etc. And a statement would be true if it described a state of affairs, i.e. some thing existed that corresponded to each name, and the thing was related to other things in the way described by the connective.

The problem is with the names; they cannot be made to correspond to things in that simple way.

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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Belinda » Fri Nov 03, 2017 11:26 am

Viveca wrote:
Generally what an electron does would be equivalent to giving a verb to a noun,and I wouldn't consider the verb to be 'inside' the noun. The action of an electron, to me, seems to be something 'horizontal' while the 'inside' of the electron would be 'vertical'. For instance, a proton would have an 'inside' as 3 quarks of two up and one down, which would be 'vertical' in that it describes a deeper level of 'inside' while the quark's action would be the strong force, which is not necessarily 'inside' the quarks, hence 'horizontal.'
Thanks for your description . I don't know physics. But I can understand what you are saying about the nature of electrons.

I also like your metaphor of horizontal and vertical, although I am not sure that protons are substantially equivalent to electrons .

I have a question though, regarding what you say about the proton , a question which I understand also applies to the nature of electrons.

Is " a proton would have an 'inside' as 3 quarks of two up and one down," nothing more than a mathematical model of reality, and not reality itself? By "reality itself" I mean stuff that you or I can touch, smell, see, hear, and so on. By contrast with this "stuff" I am very vague as to electrons' and protons' existing as "stuff".

As I said I am no physicist. However I can see a connection with the nature of human language, that , unlike what you say is the case with protons, human social language lacks any "inside" or "vertical" quality.

Viveka
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Viveka » Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:29 pm

Belinda wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 11:26 am
Viveca wrote:
Generally what an electron does would be equivalent to giving a verb to a noun,and I wouldn't consider the verb to be 'inside' the noun. The action of an electron, to me, seems to be something 'horizontal' while the 'inside' of the electron would be 'vertical'. For instance, a proton would have an 'inside' as 3 quarks of two up and one down, which would be 'vertical' in that it describes a deeper level of 'inside' while the quark's action would be the strong force, which is not necessarily 'inside' the quarks, hence 'horizontal.'
Thanks for your description . I don't know physics. But I can understand what you are saying about the nature of electrons.

I also like your metaphor of horizontal and vertical, although I am not sure that protons are substantially equivalent to electrons .

I have a question though, regarding what you say about the proton , a question which I understand also applies to the nature of electrons.

Is " a proton would have an 'inside' as 3 quarks of two up and one down," nothing more than a mathematical model of reality, and not reality itself? By "reality itself" I mean stuff that you or I can touch, smell, see, hear, and so on. By contrast with this "stuff" I am very vague as to electrons' and protons' existing as "stuff".

As I said I am no physicist. However I can see a connection with the nature of human language, that , unlike what you say is the case with protons, human social language lacks any "inside" or "vertical" quality.
Supposedly quarks have been discovered to have certain properties due to mathematical constructions that match up with a particle accelerator's empirical observations. I don't know much about this, though. Human language has a vertical quality in that it can refer to certain vertical existences. Organs are made of tissues. The very definition of Organ requires Tissue, much like the real Organ and Tissue. While Organ may refer to various organs, this is its 'universal-hood' or Platonic Form-hood. Universals are constructs of language that are 'horizontal' and 'vertical' as they define all exsitence's 'kinds' of a single linguistic/conceptual 'form'. Universals are defined by 'smaller' universals, which could be a 'vertical' quality. For instance, a vehicle would be defined as a 'conveyor'. A vehicle is always a conveyor, but a conveyor is not always a vehicle. For instance, a 'conveyor belt.' It appears that language itself can have unidirecitonality! Unidirectionality is interesting because it sets limits on what is defined. Unidirectionality ensures that there is only 'vertical' or 'horizontal' but only 'up' or 'down' or only 'left' or 'right'. Therefore, for instance, the vehicle being the conveyor would be a downwards, but the conveyor not being the vehicle would be a lack of upwards. I hope this makes sense to you and IPDev.

Viveka
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Viveka » Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:48 pm

Londoner wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 11:21 am
lpdev wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 1:48 pm
I agree that there are words whose meaning shift in time, but i totally disagree that all words do that. Now, i have to distinguish between two cases first. I will call it "the shifting of meaning" and "the shifting of syntax". The shifting of meaning is when a word gets a new meaning, the shifting of syntax is when a meaning gets a new word. Both can happen in society and may then be adapted in the dictionary. My point is that there are exact meanings and science tries to associate those meanings to one word by using definitions. This word is meant to be timeless and non shifting in both of the above mentioned types of shifts. Such precise meanings would be motion, temperature, equality, topology etc. But there are other words not defined in science that can also be defined exactly, that's what i think at least. Those would be object, action, structure, intention etc..., in short, those i try to list in my first post and with more to come. Those are all words, if you take them in their most abstract meaning (i know that structure may mean a building but this, again, is a homonym), that you will find in other languages having the same exact meaning. Of course there are numerous ways to muddle the puddle.
The examples you give of words with precise meanings are not as clear cut as you suggest. For example, 'temperature' is a description of a feeling, in which case it is a subjective perception that differs from person to person.

If we tried to avoid that by saying that the meaning of 'temperature' was 'the reading shown by a thermometer' then our definition becomes circular, 'temperature' is simply a synonym for some other words, it has nothing to do with any physical state.

Or, if we wanted to give a meaning to 'temperature' by explaining the significance of 'the reading shown by a thermometer' then we would have to link what happens to a thermometer with our general understanding of physics. Thus the meaning of that one word: 'temperature' ends up hanging on all science as a system (which system is of course is under constant revision).
As i see it, every time a word is used and the meaning is not clear, like in "brick", you have to include specifiers or specify the exact context in which the word is used or simply invent a new word.
I do not think you can specify in that way. All the words you used in your specification would also need to be pinned down, and what are you pinning them to? Yet more words. You can only get out of the circularity if you can attach the meaning of a word to something which is not a word, for example an empirical experience. But then the problem is that your experience is personal to you.

And if you invent a new word, one that exactly fits your empirical experience, then you cannot communicate it. How could you teach anybody else what you meant by that new word, since it describes something that they can have no access to?
I would say that you have thereby proven that language is impossible if what you're saying were to be true. But of course, you would be using language to prove the impossibility of language.
Londoner wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 11:21 am
I would not consider real objects that we can experience by seeing and touching as necessary to be included into a core of a language. They constitute vocabulary that is learned not the abstract "kit" that holds everything together.
If we leave out words that refer to sensations, what are the remaining words referring to? It can only be to each other, in which case we are back with circularity.

It is as if we decided to separate number from the idea of quantity. One could do that, but then maths is nothing but a tautology. We could define the meaning of one number against the meaning of another number, but the way we did so would be arbitrary. For example, in my system I could say '2+2 means 4, except on Wednesdays, when it means 6'. Since numbers would not refer to anything outside the system, any system would be as good as any other.

So certainly we could define non-referring words against each other, but then our definitions would be arbitrary. No definition would be true.
The aforementioned also applies to this. All of mathematics is is a bunch of tautologies based upon certain axioms. Who's to say that we can't define reality by axioms with tautologies in language?
Londoner wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 11:21 am
As of Wittgenstein, i have heard of the attempt to find the primal components of language, but don't know on how he tried it and why he thought it impossible. I'm not even sure if it is the same as what i try to do with my definitions, i think not. But as mathematics define a lot of precise vocabulary, it's obvious that it is likely to be possible for more words.
Wittgenstein attempted to distinguish between the parts of language that refer, i.e. names, and the parts that relate such references to each other. The hope was that it would resemble maths, where you can distinguish the numbers from the connectives like +, = etc. And a statement would be true if it described a state of affairs, i.e. some thing existed that corresponded to each name, and the thing was related to other things in the way described by the connective.

The problem is with the names; they cannot be made to correspond to things in that simple way.
Names as in Nouns? Or Names as in Proper Nouns?

Londoner
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Londoner » Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:11 am

Viveka wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:48 pm

I would say that you have thereby proven that language is impossible if what you're saying were to be true. But of course, you would be using language to prove the impossibility of language.
I am looking at the nature of language. Language is plainly not 'impossible' but I would argue it does not work in the way you want it to.
The aforementioned also applies to this. All of mathematics is is a bunch of tautologies based upon certain axioms. Who's to say that we can't define reality by axioms with tautologies in language?
Because if you are trying to define 'reality' then at some point you have to link the meaning of words to something apart from another word. Just as in the case of numbers, you have to link them to quantities i.e. a physical description.

As I say, you would think this ought to be easy, just a matter of clarification. But it is a problem of philosophy that we can't.
Me: The problem is with the names; they cannot be made to correspond to things in that simple way.

Names as in Nouns? Or Names as in Proper Nouns?
'Names' would be whatever part of language you think corresponds to something in 'reality'. It might be a noun, but there are obvious problems with the way nouns refer to generalised concepts. So the way the discussion went was that if we are going to link 'reality' with empirical experience, the names could refer to very simple experiences, immediate sensations like 'red!'. A noun would then stand for a collection of these simple experiences, e.g. 'snow' would be understood as shorthand for the experiences 'white!' + 'cold!' + 'soft!' etc.

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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Belinda » Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:59 am

Viveka wrote:
Organs are made of tissues. The very definition of Organ requires Tissue, much like the real Organ and Tissue. While Organ may refer to various organs, this is its 'universal-hood' or Platonic Form-hood.
Nobody would disagree with that. We could add that tissues require cells , and cells to be cells require certain properties which biologists have described, defined, and explained. And cells require chemicals, and so on.

We could say similarly about metallurgy, or botany, or law, that the special lexicons of those disciplines are internally coherent. Special lexicons are arbitrarily fixed by the specialists concerned, but natural everyday social language is not arbitrary. Everyday, social language is infinitely creative , whereas specialists' lexicons are fixed. One example of everyday, social language is slang, another is poetry.

Viveka
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Viveka » Sun Nov 05, 2017 1:46 am

Belinda wrote:
Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:59 am
Viveka wrote:
Organs are made of tissues. The very definition of Organ requires Tissue, much like the real Organ and Tissue. While Organ may refer to various organs, this is its 'universal-hood' or Platonic Form-hood.
Nobody would disagree with that. We could add that tissues require cells , and cells to be cells require certain properties which biologists have described, defined, and explained. And cells require chemicals, and so on.

We could say similarly about metallurgy, or botany, or law, that the special lexicons of those disciplines are internally coherent. Special lexicons are arbitrarily fixed by the specialists concerned, but natural everyday social language is not arbitrary. Everyday, social language is infinitely creative , whereas specialists' lexicons are fixed. One example of everyday, social language is slang, another is poetry.
I wouldn't say infinitely creative. Each new word or synonym is a small change on a larger rather axiomatic basis. For instance, 'the' is a word that is an axiom. The only complement to 'the' would be 'life-force-itself,' as in life as in how reality presents itself to us in parts and parcels of 'real' things, except that the latter of 'life-force-itself' contains the former of 'the'. Another axiom would be 'and' and 'by, in, or with,' except that the latter contains the former. I have used these to define the Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics and their derivation from Ancient Hebrew, as the Bible records as history.

By the way, do you think that my horizontal and vertical, and up or down and left or right makes any sense? I think it may be a novel way of viewing language and thus may be of import.

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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Belinda » Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:46 am

Viveka wrote:
By the way, do you think that my horizontal and vertical, and up or down and left or right makes any sense? I think it may be a novel way of viewing language and thus may be of import.
I think that "horizontal and vertical" makes sense to me so that "horizontal" is how I perceive everyday social language whereas "vertical" is how I might perceive arbitrary terminology in some descriptive science like physiology in your own example . However "vertical" doesn't adequately describe experimental methods which require lateral thinking.

"Left or right" are so imbued with political connotations that I wouldn't think of those terms as applicable to a general theory of language.

I believe in Wittgenstein's social theory of language as summed up by "the meaning of a word is its use" .

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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Viveka » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:55 am

Belinda wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:46 am
Viveka wrote:
By the way, do you think that my horizontal and vertical, and up or down and left or right makes any sense? I think it may be a novel way of viewing language and thus may be of import.
I think that "horizontal and vertical" makes sense to me so that "horizontal" is how I perceive everyday social language whereas "vertical" is how I might perceive arbitrary terminology in some descriptive science like physiology in your own example . However "vertical" doesn't adequately describe experimental methods which require lateral thinking.

"Left or right" are so imbued with political connotations that I wouldn't think of those terms as applicable to a general theory of language.

I believe in Wittgenstein's social theory of language as summed up by "the meaning of a word is its use" .
What exactly do you mean by lateral thinking in the instance of experimental methods?

Also, left and right would have no true meaning in politics as I mean it.

I would say the meaning of a word is its descriptive power. The fewer the words, the more descriptive power due to less possibilities of variance, in a sense.

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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Belinda » Mon Nov 06, 2017 11:11 am

Viveka, I'm not going to try to answer your questions any more because I 'm not the best person to educate or lecture to you on Wittgenstein's social theory of language. It would be better for you to buy or borrow some beginners' guide to Wittgenstein.

Viveka
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Viveka » Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:18 am

Belinda wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 11:11 am
Viveka, I'm not going to try to answer your questions any more because I 'm not the best person to educate or lecture to you on Wittgenstein's social theory of language. It would be better for you to buy or borrow some beginners' guide to Wittgenstein.
I have too many books in line for me to read than to buy another one.

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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Belinda » Tue Nov 07, 2017 1:18 am

Viveka wrote:
I have too many books in line for me to read than to buy another one.
How well I understand. It's nice to be never bored though isn't it :)

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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by lpdev » Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:23 pm

While trying to understand what a core of language might be, i try to orient myself with the rhetorical question “What would I tell a 5 year old child?”. Some words come down to experience. For example, you could explain time using the physical knowledge available, but very few 5 year old would probably understand that. But based on experience a child can understand what we mean with temperature by giving examples, “The cup of tea is hot”, “The ice is cold”. That doesn't mean the child understands temperature, but it connects it's experience with the words. And it understands that it's one-dimensional, cold up to hot. The same is the case with words like time, space and weight for physical experiences. Colors are also one-dimensional but we see it as three dimensional due to a trick of nature, but that doesn't matter, we have terms for both cases. We need knowledge in physics to understand temperature, we don't it in order to talk about it.

Experiences also give us numbers, sets, lines, surfaces, inside, outside and order for mathematical ones. We do not need an explanation of what those are because we know them even before we start to comprehend language. Lines for example are learned through a self teaching neural process, probably located in the visual cortex. These words are clear cut because albeit they might subjectively have a different feel, they all have the same fundamental properties.

Now, I don't mean words like “hot” and “cold”. Those are subjective. But “hottest” and “coldest” are not. People may disagree what day in a year was the hottest, but at least one of them has to be wrong which in this case is an error of measurement (bad or imprecise instrument). What is clear cut are their number of dimensions, if and how they are ordered and if they have a direction. An example for non-ordered concepts that I consider to be part of the core would be “objects” and “material”.

Now, for classification, universals and categorization the definitions here can be either rigorous or more or less vague. First of, categorization relates sets with subsets, something Informatics deals a lot with in Object Oriented Programming. The universal term always stands for the greater set than the more specific one. Each term has properties and the more specific the more properties describe it while retaining the properties of the universal term. The set-subset inclusion is a direct result of this. A rigorous example would be that circles are ellipses but not the other way around. The example of the brick is vague, but why is it? One reason it can be seen as vague is because we learn terms by experience and tend to associate all common properties we have been shown to that term. But everyone has a different experience so everyone has another definition of “brick” which will include different sets of properties and different values for those properties. And that is the problem. In fact, in this case everyone speaks a slightly different language.

A second reason for that vagueness comes from the fact that many properties are not binary but a continuum allowing for small changes. The “brick” could be defined a having a cuboid (math for “brick formed”) form. But what about bricks that are slightly misshapen? That's when what I call defaults and modifiers come in. The default would be what comes to mind when the term “brick” is used. In this example the modifier would be the word “misshapen”. So you could define a brick with two properties: A brick has to be cuboid and a brick has to have a weight. Mind that none of the words cuboid and weight have any modifiers and that this is far from the definition of that which is usually called a “brick” where I would also include size, function and more. So, with “brick” defined like this we can use diverse modifiers to construct terms for concepts that have no associated term for themselves. The Lego brick comes to mind where Lego would be the modifier. Now, if a brick would be anything else in form than cuboid we would have to add the above mentioned misshapen modifier in order to be precise. But in the real world the term “brick” includes slightly misshapen ones (and depending again on subjective experience of the talker of what he constitutes as “misshapen”). But such differences can also be mathematically defined if one so wishes. Construction planners probably even already did that, a norm so to speak.

As I see it, vague terms are vague because of many different reasons but I can't remember encountering one that was impossible to define exactly. There are more ways a language can be vague, but I can't recall them right now. So, i don't say language is not vague, I would simply call it a holy mess, but it does not have to be.

About the core of language, i think that the question comes down to the question about how to distinguish between the core terms and the other ones. But I know that it may well be that it's not a binary question but rather one of order (not total order mind you), where every term might have a place in that order. I do not exclude circular definitions either, but I think it would need to have a foundation in experience somewhere. My current approach would be to start with excluding every term that can be defined using other ones without the need to be based on experience. The circle would be such an example. You could define a circle as an ellipse where the two focal points are one and the same and therefore exclude the word circle from the core.

Where it gets tricky is when there also is a possible definition the other way around, one that defines an ellipse as a deformed circle for example. In this example this is easy, we still exclude the circle because ellipses are the more universal concept. I'm looking for a case where the solution isn't that easy in order to see what other problems exist.

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