Defining the core of language

What did you say? And what did you mean by it?

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Belinda
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Belinda » Wed Nov 08, 2017 9:24 pm

ipdev wrote:
“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.
What the child would be learning would be something like "Here comes that funny man " or maybe "I like this lady's white jeans " and so on. Or some such learning that you didn't intend at all.Young children learn from social situations. I mean that the young child learns from others what is appropriate to say in each social situation encountered, not ostensively or by reference to things that are aren't there, but through imitation and play. So "That tea's hot!" is said with some urgency and maybe alarm , shouting or abruptly, on the part of the speaker in the presence of an actually threatening cup of tea.

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lpdev
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by lpdev » Thu Nov 09, 2017 12:21 am

Belinda wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 9:24 pm
ipdev wrote:
“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.
What the child would be learning would be something like "Here comes that funny man " or maybe "I like this lady's white jeans " and so on. Or some such learning that you didn't intend at all.Young children learn from social situations. I mean that the young child learns from others what is appropriate to say in each social situation encountered, not ostensively or by reference to things that are aren't there, but through imitation and play. So "That tea's hot!" is said with some urgency and maybe alarm , shouting or abruptly, on the part of the speaker in the presence of an actually threatening cup of tea.
I'm not talking about social or dangerous situations, i wrote about the act of learning what word is associated to which experience. There is a saying in science that you only truly have understood a topic when you are able to explain it to a five year old, which is like saying that you have to boil it down to the most simple terms possible. If there is a core to language, i would expect to find most of those simple terms in it.

When i talked about temperature it was an example of a word that is learned way sooner, when the child is still a baby. I'm observing a fact: the child learned the words "hot" and "cold" not from an explanation of the word, but from it's parents as they said the term while it experienced those temperatures. How else could it have learned these words?

An examination of the learning experience of children in general is not needed in my argumentation. And while it is true that children learn from social encounters, you probably would have difficulties finding any experience a child does NOT learn from. As i said in my previous post, merely the act of looking is an act of learning for babies as they learn to recognize shapes.

Belinda
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Belinda » Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:03 am

Ipdev wrote:
I'm not talking about social or dangerous situations,
Me neither. I tried to explain to you how young children always live and learn. They learn by play and by imitation, not by ostensive definitions however well expressed.

Belinda
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Belinda » Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:03 am

Ipdev wrote:
I'm not talking about social or dangerous situations,
Me neither. I tried to explain to you how young children always live and learn. They learn by play and by imitation, not by ostensive definitions however well expressed.

Londoner
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Londoner » Thu Nov 09, 2017 12:43 pm

lpdev wrote:
Thu Nov 09, 2017 12:21 am
What the child would be learning would be something like "Here comes that funny man " or maybe "I like this lady's white jeans " and so on. Or some such learning that you didn't intend at all.Young children learn from social situations. I mean that the young child learns from others what is appropriate to say in each social situation encountered, not ostensively or by reference to things that are aren't there, but through imitation and play. So "That tea's hot!" is said with some urgency and maybe alarm , shouting or abruptly, on the part of the speaker in the presence of an actually threatening cup of tea.

I'm not talking about social or dangerous situations, i wrote about the act of learning what word is associated to which experience. There is a saying in science that you only truly have understood a topic when you are able to explain it to a five year old, which is like saying that you have to boil it down to the most simple terms possible. If there is a core to language, i would expect to find most of those simple terms in it.

When i talked about temperature it was an example of a word that is learned way sooner, when the child is still a baby. I'm observing a fact: the child learned the words "hot" and "cold" not from an explanation of the word, but from it's parents as they said the term while it experienced those temperatures. How else could it have learned these words?
There are two slightly contradictory accounts there. In the first paragraph, the child learns the meaning of 'hot' by seeing the situations in which other people use it. But in the second, the child learns it as being the label for an experience. I think the first is correct, because the way we use a word like 'hot' is not tied to the experience of any specific temperature. Whether something is 'hot' or not, and the way we would react to being told something is 'hot', depends on context. For example, 'the soup is hot' might be a warning that it could scald you, but it might equally be telling you the soup is now ready to drink.

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lpdev
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by lpdev » Thu Nov 09, 2017 4:29 pm

Belinda wrote:
Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:03 am
Ipdev wrote:
I'm not talking about social or dangerous situations,
Me neither. I tried to explain to you how young children always live and learn. They learn by play and by imitation, not by ostensive definitions however well expressed.
We agree then that they do not learn by definitions thus it has to be experience as only alternative. :)

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lpdev
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by lpdev » Thu Nov 09, 2017 7:38 pm

Londoner wrote:
Thu Nov 09, 2017 12:43 pm
lpdev wrote:
Thu Nov 09, 2017 12:21 am
Belinda wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 9:24 pm
What the child would be learning would be something like "Here comes that funny man " or maybe "I like this lady's white jeans " and so on. Or some such learning that you didn't intend at all.Young children learn from social situations. I mean that the young child learns from others what is appropriate to say in each social situation encountered, not ostensively or by reference to things that are aren't there, but through imitation and play. So "That tea's hot!" is said with some urgency and maybe alarm , shouting or abruptly, on the part of the speaker in the presence of an actually threatening cup of tea.
I'm not talking about social or dangerous situations, i wrote about the act of learning what word is associated to which experience. There is a saying in science that you only truly have understood a topic when you are able to explain it to a five year old, which is like saying that you have to boil it down to the most simple terms possible. If there is a core to language, i would expect to find most of those simple terms in it.

When i talked about temperature it was an example of a word that is learned way sooner, when the child is still a baby. I'm observing a fact: the child learned the words "hot" and "cold" not from an explanation of the word, but from it's parents as they said the term while it experienced those temperatures. How else could it have learned these words?
There are two slightly contradictory accounts there. In the first paragraph, the child learns the meaning of 'hot' by seeing the situations in which other people use it. But in the second, the child learns it as being the label for an experience. I think the first is correct, because the way we use a word like 'hot' is not tied to the experience of any specific temperature. Whether something is 'hot' or not, and the way we would react to being told something is 'hot', depends on context. For example, 'the soup is hot' might be a warning that it could scald you, but it might equally be telling you the soup is now ready to drink.
Be aware that the first paragraph is a quote by Belinda.

But there is no contradiction here, just a bit of confusion, perhaps because i used the word "hot". I'll replace the word "hot" with the word "warm", that might help. The problem here is that in some of the described situations the child learns something different than simply to connect a word to a certain aspect of reality. In these fictitious situations the only people present are the child and let's say one or two parents. The situation i am describing is the necessary first instance where the child learns something about the vocabulary of temperature. It is the very first thing a child will have to learn in relation to the labels "warm" and "cold" and that is that it is connected with the feeling of temperature (not a specific temperature), learned in a situation where it might touch a warm cup of tea, a warm pancake or anything warm and physically experience it. In this situation another person has to be present in order for it to hear the word "warm", so, yes, it is automatically a social situation. Both the physical experience and the utterance of the word "warm" at roughly the same time are necessary for the child's mind to make the connection. Without the utterance the child wouldn't know what to call the sensation and without the sensation the word "warm" would stay an abstract concept that could as well stand for the sensation of weight.

Now, you could argue that the repetition of that situation with different temperatures is necessary in order for the child to understand that the word "warm" is not connected to a certain specific temperature, to weight, to danger(in the case of "hot"), to edibility or to any other property. Also, in my described situation the terms apply to what is hot, warm and cold specifically for people but of course there are other cases where the word hot is used. And there is the case where "hot" is synonym to "spicy" but that only means that the word has more than one meaning and that there has to be a context in order to understand the meaning. All these cases are beside the only point that i try to make. The point is that the experience of sensing temperatures is necessary to start to comprehend the meaning of the vocabulary about temperatures (which would include the word "temperature" itself). These concepts are not teachable with words alone if you do not refer to situations where you might have experienced them.

Londoner
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Londoner » Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:27 am

lpdev wrote:
Thu Nov 09, 2017 7:38 pm
Both the physical experience and the utterance of the word "warm" at roughly the same time are necessary for the child's mind to make the connection. Without the utterance the child wouldn't know what to call the sensation and without the sensation the word "warm" would stay an abstract concept that could as well stand for the sensation of weight.
How does the child know that 'warm' is a description of the temperature? If I am told the cup is 'warm' I cannot know whether that word might describe the weight of the cup, the taste of the contents, that it might spill, or anything else. I would only learn the correct use of 'warm' by using the word; if I use it inappropriately I will be corrected.

I cannot learn the meaning of 'warm' because I connect it to a sensation, because the sensation is entirely private. I have no idea whether what I am feeling is the same as what everyone else is feeling. This is more obviously seen if we think about colour. I know that the word 'green' describes things like grass. I have learnt to use that word correctly, but I have no idea whether other people have the same internal experience when they see grass as I do. Maybe I see red where you see green; there is no way that language could show that. We would still both point at the grass and say 'green'.
Now, you could argue that the repetition of that situation with different temperatures is necessary in order for the child to understand that the word "warm" is not connected to a certain specific temperature, to weight, to danger(in the case of "hot"), to edibility or to any other property. Also, in my described situation the terms apply to what is hot, warm and cold specifically for people but of course there are other cases where the word hot is used. And there is the case where "hot" is synonym to "spicy" but that only means that the word has more than one meaning and that there has to be a context in order to understand the meaning.
Yet those other meanings of 'hot', to mean spicy, or sexy, or very current ('a hot topic') etc. are not entirely distinct from each other. As Wittgenstein put it, there is a 'family resemblance'. If we defined 'hot' to strictly mean only one of these, we would not be describing how the word 'hot' is actually used in language. If I was to describe some goods as 'hot', even somebody who was totally unfamiliar with this being slang for 'stolen' would have some understanding of what I was telling them, because they would pick up on the idea 'not something you want to hold onto' and 'might harm you' and so on, because 'hot' includes all these ideas.

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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Belinda » Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:31 am

Londoner is great at actual illustrations in this case , if I may say so, of language as a social activity!
How does the child know that 'warm' is a description of the temperature? If I am told the cup is 'warm' I cannot know whether that word might describe the weight of the cup, the taste of the contents, that it might spill, or anything else. I would only learn the correct use of 'warm' by using the word; if I use it inappropriately I will be corrected.

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lpdev
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by lpdev » Fri Nov 10, 2017 7:14 pm

Londoner wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:27 am
How does the child know that 'warm' is a description of the temperature? If I am told the cup is 'warm' I cannot know whether that word might describe the weight of the cup, the taste of the contents, that it might spill, or anything else. I would only learn the correct use of 'warm' by using the word; if I use it inappropriately I will be corrected.
I mentioned repetition. If you only hear it in one instance, the child won't be able to know. But hear it multiple times in different situations where the only constant is the elevated temperature and it will make the connection. We all learn this way. Do you think you need to teach a child to cover it's ears when a plane is approaching? No. After one or two times it will have made the connection on it's own. Ivan Pavlov's experiments with dogs, where he sounds a bell before giving them food and they start to salivate when they hear the bell, is the classical example. The only difference here is what is learned, not how it is learned.

If a child could only learn the correct use of a word by using it falsely without any inclination on where it might be right time to use it, it would have to try it, in a language with a basic vocabulary of lets say 600 words, around 300 times on average. Ever heard of a child using a word wrongly that often? I certainly didn't. There is a personal anecdote that makes me certain that children learn words way before they start to use it. I was driving with a friend of mine and his young children. I sat beside the boy and asked his parents if he has started to speak yet while looking at him. He looked at me and sadly shook his head (i had to laugh at that it was so cute). He perfectly understood what i was asking and answered my question with this gesture without ever having uttered a word before.
Londoner wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:27 am
I cannot learn the meaning of 'warm' because I connect it to a sensation, because the sensation is entirely private. I have no idea whether what I am feeling is the same as what everyone else is feeling. This is more obviously seen if we think about colour. I know that the word 'green' describes things like grass. I have learnt to use that word correctly, but I have no idea whether other people have the same internal experience when they see grass as I do. Maybe I see red where you see green; there is no way that language could show that. We would still both point at the grass and say 'green'.
That philosophical question on whether we privately see the colors the same way or not has no relevancy here. Even if what i see as green looks red to you, we still see all trees as having the same color. I call the color is see green and you call the color you see green. Even when our personal experience differ, we both call a green car green, because we both associate the word green to that color, whatever it might look like in private. The essential point stays the same: the child's mind receives two signals and automatically creates a connection, between those two signals. In the situations we are talking about, it's mind will, of course, make a lot of other connections too, but the relevant fact stays that a connection between the sensation of warmth and the sound of the word "warm" is made.
Londoner wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:27 am
Yet those other meanings of 'hot', to mean spicy, or sexy, or very current ('a hot topic') etc. are not entirely distinct from each other. As Wittgenstein put it, there is a 'family resemblance'. If we defined 'hot' to strictly mean only one of these, we would not be describing how the word 'hot' is actually used in language. If I was to describe some goods as 'hot', even somebody who was totally unfamiliar with this being slang for 'stolen' would have some understanding of what I was telling them, because they would pick up on the idea 'not something you want to hold onto' and 'might harm you' and so on, because 'hot' includes all these ideas.
If the word hot has multiple uses in different contexts there are two possible ways to handle that. Either we create multiple definitions of the word and add a description of the context needed for that definition to apply or we simply use different words for each different meaning. The multiple meanings of hot being not entirely distinct is not a problem. The french don't use the word "hot", "chaud", for spicy but one of the words used are "fort", which means "strong". They still are able to communicate just fine. Differing words with similar meaning are not unusual. "Purple", "pink" and "magenta" have very similar meanings and yet they are completely different. Words are just labels and we can choose whatever label we like.

But the usage of unrelated words to describe something else is something i do understand. Here we are back to the properties of words, in this case the word "hot". The property of something hot being "not something you want to hold onto" is a consequence of the basic meaning of hot. Let me give an example on how i roughly think the brain handles such cases of "misappropriation" of other words. Lets suppose someone says "This sand sculpture is like a car". Now what properties does a sand sculpture have in common with a car? Is it speed? Nope, one moves, the other does not. Is it the material? No. The sound? No. The shape? Well both have a shape and sand sculptures are defined as having many possible shapes. The shape of a car on the other hand (the default one i mentioned before) has a limited range of possibilities compared to the possibility of all shapes. To describe the shape of something of unknown shape by mentioning something with known shape makes perfect sense. As the concepts of the car and the sand sculpture are connected indirectly by the concept of shape the brain is able to make that connection.

Belinda
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Belinda » Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:04 pm

Ipdev wrote:
I mentioned repetition. If you only hear it in one instance, the child won't be able to know. But hear it multiple times in different situations where the only constant is the elevated temperature and it will make the connection.
But within the same language community the meanings are shared, intersubjective. So the child hears the same meaning, give or take a little for individuals' eccentricities. There does not have to be a physical constant. The social situation may itself be what the utterances are about. E.g. "See you later."

Viveka
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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Viveka » Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:06 pm

Londoner wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:27 am
lpdev wrote:
Thu Nov 09, 2017 7:38 pm
Both the physical experience and the utterance of the word "warm" at roughly the same time are necessary for the child's mind to make the connection. Without the utterance the child wouldn't know what to call the sensation and without the sensation the word "warm" would stay an abstract concept that could as well stand for the sensation of weight.
How does the child know that 'warm' is a description of the temperature? If I am told the cup is 'warm' I cannot know whether that word might describe the weight of the cup, the taste of the contents, that it might spill, or anything else. I would only learn the correct use of 'warm' by using the word; if I use it inappropriately I will be corrected.

I cannot learn the meaning of 'warm' because I connect it to a sensation, because the sensation is entirely private. I have no idea whether what I am feeling is the same as what everyone else is feeling. This is more obviously seen if we think about colour. I know that the word 'green' describes things like grass. I have learnt to use that word correctly, but I have no idea whether other people have the same internal experience when they see grass as I do. Maybe I see red where you see green; there is no way that language could show that. We would still both point at the grass and say 'green'.
Yet again you are trying to disprove the effectievness of language with language.
Londoner wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:27 am
Now, you could argue that the repetition of that situation with different temperatures is necessary in order for the child to understand that the word "warm" is not connected to a certain specific temperature, to weight, to danger(in the case of "hot"), to edibility or to any other property. Also, in my described situation the terms apply to what is hot, warm and cold specifically for people but of course there are other cases where the word hot is used. And there is the case where "hot" is synonym to "spicy" but that only means that the word has more than one meaning and that there has to be a context in order to understand the meaning.
Yet those other meanings of 'hot', to mean spicy, or sexy, or very current ('a hot topic') etc. are not entirely distinct from each other. As Wittgenstein put it, there is a 'family resemblance'. If we defined 'hot' to strictly mean only one of these, we would not be describing how the word 'hot' is actually used in language. If I was to describe some goods as 'hot', even somebody who was totally unfamiliar with this being slang for 'stolen' would have some understanding of what I was telling them, because they would pick up on the idea 'not something you want to hold onto' and 'might harm you' and so on, because 'hot' includes all these ideas.
Yes. This simply means we are not being exact enough with our words and their definition in descriptive power. Once a chlid understands that Temperature of touch, light, eyesight, and all depend upon kinetic energy and radiation, they can accurately describe a 'hotness' as a 'such and such Kelvin temperature' and while touch may not directly correspond to this, it is an approximation of what is called 'heat' in the scientific sense, and the subjective correlation of tactile 'heat'. While tactile 'heat' is the qualitative view of 'heat', it can indeed be correlated with quantitative 'heat' in the scientific sense once understood correctly. In fact, 'heat' itself can be 'grokked' mentally by mentally fabricating 'heat' on one's own hands or body, and this generally results in an increase in temperature of wherever it is mentally fabricated, such as upon the hands.

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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Eodnhoj7 » Fri Nov 10, 2017 9:26 pm

Viveka wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:06 pm
Londoner wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:27 am
lpdev wrote:
Thu Nov 09, 2017 7:38 pm
Both the physical experience and the utterance of the word "warm" at roughly the same time are necessary for the child's mind to make the connection. Without the utterance the child wouldn't know what to call the sensation and without the sensation the word "warm" would stay an abstract concept that could as well stand for the sensation of weight.
How does the child know that 'warm' is a description of the temperature? If I am told the cup is 'warm' I cannot know whether that word might describe the weight of the cup, the taste of the contents, that it might spill, or anything else. I would only learn the correct use of 'warm' by using the word; if I use it inappropriately I will be corrected.

I cannot learn the meaning of 'warm' because I connect it to a sensation, because the sensation is entirely private. I have no idea whether what I am feeling is the same as what everyone else is feeling. This is more obviously seen if we think about colour. I know that the word 'green' describes things like grass. I have learnt to use that word correctly, but I have no idea whether other people have the same internal experience when they see grass as I do. Maybe I see red where you see green; there is no way that language could show that. We would still both point at the grass and say 'green'.
Yet again you are trying to disprove the effectievness of language with language.
Londoner wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:27 am
Now, you could argue that the repetition of that situation with different temperatures is necessary in order for the child to understand that the word "warm" is not connected to a certain specific temperature, to weight, to danger(in the case of "hot"), to edibility or to any other property. Also, in my described situation the terms apply to what is hot, warm and cold specifically for people but of course there are other cases where the word hot is used. And there is the case where "hot" is synonym to "spicy" but that only means that the word has more than one meaning and that there has to be a context in order to understand the meaning.
Yet those other meanings of 'hot', to mean spicy, or sexy, or very current ('a hot topic') etc. are not entirely distinct from each other. As Wittgenstein put it, there is a 'family resemblance'. If we defined 'hot' to strictly mean only one of these, we would not be describing how the word 'hot' is actually used in language. If I was to describe some goods as 'hot', even somebody who was totally unfamiliar with this being slang for 'stolen' would have some understanding of what I was telling them, because they would pick up on the idea 'not something you want to hold onto' and 'might harm you' and so on, because 'hot' includes all these ideas.
Yes. This simply means we are not being exact enough with our words and their definition in descriptive power. Once a chlid understands that Temperature of touch, light, eyesight, and all depend upon kinetic energy and radiation, they can accurately describe a 'hotness' as a 'such and such Kelvin temperature' and while touch may not directly correspond to this, it is an approximation of what is called 'heat' in the scientific sense, and the subjective correlation of tactile 'heat'. While tactile 'heat' is the qualitative view of 'heat', it can indeed be correlated with quantitative 'heat' in the scientific sense once understood correctly. In fact, 'heat' itself can be 'grokked' mentally by mentally fabricating 'heat' on one's own hands or body, and this generally results in an increase in temperature of wherever it is mentally fabricated, such as upon the hands.
^^^^Everything she says.

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Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Londoner » Sat Nov 11, 2017 10:46 am

lpdev wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 7:14 pm

I mentioned repetition. If you only hear it in one instance, the child won't be able to know. But hear it multiple times in different situations where the only constant is the elevated temperature and it will make the connection. We all learn this way. Do you think you need to teach a child to cover it's ears when a plane is approaching? No. After one or two times it will have made the connection on it's own. Ivan Pavlov's experiments with dogs, where he sounds a bell before giving them food and they start to salivate when they hear the bell, is the classical example. The only difference here is what is learned, not how it is learned.
But that is not what we learn when we use how to use a word. As I wrote earlier, if we learnt some precise meaning of the word 'hot' then we would only be able to use it is very specific situations, to refer to exact temperatures. That is just not how a word is used. If I say 'I am hot' it is not a claim that my body temperature is the same as a cup of coffee.
If a child could only learn the correct use of a word by using it falsely without any inclination on where it might be right time to use it, it would have to try it, in a language with a basic vocabulary of lets say 600 words, around 300 times on average. Ever heard of a child using a word wrongly that often? I certainly didn't.
They will have some inclination, because they hear a word used in a particular context, otherwise they would not use it. But the nuances of meaning can only be learnt by attempts to communicate. For example, you might have the idea that 'hot' can be used to describe people. But 'hot' when used about people says you find them sexy, as distinct from just good looking. That isn't something you can learn by listening to the sound, or observing the spelling. Nor can you learn it from particular instances; Mary might be called 'hot', but 'hot' does not mean Mary.
That philosophical question on whether we privately see the colors the same way or not has no relevancy here. Even if what i see as green looks red to you, we still see all trees as having the same color.
You cannot know that. We both know the word used to describe the colour of a tree is 'green', but I cannot know whether you are seeing it in the same way I do.
If the word hot has multiple uses in different contexts there are two possible ways to handle that. Either we create multiple definitions of the word and add a description of the context needed for that definition to apply or we simply use different words for each different meaning. The multiple meanings of hot being not entirely distinct is not a problem. The french don't use the word "hot", "chaud", for spicy but one of the words used are "fort", which means "strong". They still are able to communicate just fine. Differing words with similar meaning are not unusual. "Purple", "pink" and "magenta" have very similar meanings and yet they are completely different. Words are just labels and we can choose whatever label we like.
It would not be enough to create a listing of multiple definitions of the word, because in any given case we would not know which definition applied. We would also need to create a dictionary of human activity because to find out what is meant when somebody says 'Mary is hot' we would have to somehow look up whether they wish to communicate their sexual desire for Mary or an observation that Mary is sick.

This is in Wittgenstein, but also J.L.Austin; the observation that words are not just descriptive, they are acts.
But the usage of unrelated words to describe something else is something i do understand. Here we are back to the properties of words, in this case the word "hot". The property of something hot being "not something you want to hold onto" is a consequence of the basic meaning of hot.
And yet the stolen goods described as 'hot' are not hot in the same way that coffee is hot. So are we saying sensible temperature is not the basic meaning of 'hot'? (And if 'Mary is hot' I'm saying she is "something you want to hold onto"!)

As I wrote before, the idea is that all these uses have 'family resemblances', i.e. each of the ways we use a word like 'hot' will have some resemblance to another way we use that word, but there is not necessarily any single common feature. As in 'you have your father's nose, your father has his mother's eyes, his mother shares her sister's character' and so on, so we can trace a relationship between the way we use a word without there being any one 'basic feature' that everyone has.

Londoner
Posts: 790
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:47 am

Re: Defining the core of language

Post by Londoner » Sat Nov 11, 2017 10:48 am

Viveka wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:06 pm
Yet again you are trying to disprove the effectievness of language with language.
Language is effective in doing what it does, which is not what you think it does.

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