Language

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

Moderators: AMod, iMod

Wootah
Posts: 223
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:43 am

Language

Post by Wootah »

As a programmer I am quite a bit frustrated having to learn new languages all the time that all do basically the same thing.

Now I am aware that new features do occur and sometimes it is better to rewrite the language for efficiency improvements and yet it all seems like same old same old - loops, logical structures, functions blah blah.

Now here is the question:

Are all languages that exist today sufficient for describing reality? Are we missing anything from English that another language has?

I sometimes wonder that if we don't have a word for something then we can't see it. Do you agree?

Anything you want to add?
Impenitent
Posts: 3189
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:04 pm

Re: Language

Post by Impenitent »

writeln('Not being able to describe an event does not necessarily negate its existence...')

-Imp
Wootah
Posts: 223
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:43 am

Re: Language

Post by Wootah »

Impenitent wrote:writeln('Not being able to describe an event does not necessarily negate its existence...')

-Imp
Of course. But can we see it if we don't have the language for it?
Impenitent
Posts: 3189
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:04 pm

Re: Language

Post by Impenitent »

Wootah wrote:
Impenitent wrote:writeln('Not being able to describe an event does not necessarily negate its existence...')

-Imp
Of course. But can we see it if we don't have the language for it?
is language required for sight?

to relate that which was seen to another, one requires language of some sort

sensory impressions are extralinguistic...

-Imp
Wootah
Posts: 223
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:43 am

Re: Language

Post by Wootah »

I think a person that cannot read and does not know what a book is can look at a page of a book and see the words but see nothing.

When you look at an ink blot why is it that the psychiatrist is able to ask what do you see?
Impenitent
Posts: 3189
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:04 pm

Re: Language

Post by Impenitent »

see words? your description belies your linguistic prejudice...

the marks are seen, the interpretation of the marks is external to seeing the marks...

the same holds for the Rorschach test... the question itself is a linguistic exercise...

-Imp
User avatar
SpheresOfBalance
Posts: 5569
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2011 4:27 pm
Location: On a Star Dust Metamorphosis

Re: Language

Post by SpheresOfBalance »

Wootah wrote:As a programmer I am quite a bit frustrated having to learn new languages all the time that all do basically the same thing.

Now I am aware that new features do occur and sometimes it is better to rewrite the language for efficiency improvements and yet it all seems like same old same old - loops, logical structures, functions blah blah.

Now here is the question:

Are all languages that exist today sufficient for describing reality? Are we missing anything from English that another language has?

I sometimes wonder that if we don't have a word for something then we can't see it. Do you agree?

Anything you want to add?
It's the other way around. The seeing comes first the speaking comes after. If the seeing has no speaking, the first to see, is the first to speak, thus if you are the first to see, it becomes the "Wootah-Thing-A-Ma-Bob," or the "Wootah-What-You-May-Call-It."
simonj28
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun May 06, 2012 10:22 pm
Location: UK

Re: Language

Post by simonj28 »

The purpose of language is to communicate. As Imp says existence isn't dependent on language.

The purpose of programming languages is to convey instructions to machines. If you don't say the right things in the right way you won't get the result you were seeking.

We use language to communicate to other people. Unlike machines often you could communicate something to someone and they may say they have understood but may have misinterpreted your message. In philosophy this becomes even more challenging as often the philosophers is trying to communicate new ideas; I hope I haven't failed to communicate mine :roll:
Wootah
Posts: 223
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:43 am

Re: Language

Post by Wootah »

It was a musing and your answers seem the practical ones.

My suggestion is that as our vocabulary grows so to does our ability to see the universe.

I once read that we see snow an Eskimo sees 50+ colours of white.

I see a human body, what does a doctor see.

Someone else sees a blur of code but Neo sees the Matrix.

In medicine again it is considered a breakthrough to identify the disease, to name it.

What do you guys think on the first question? Are all languages that exist today sufficient for describing reality? Are we missing anything from English that another language has?
User avatar
Resha Caner
Posts: 122
Joined: Tue May 08, 2012 4:44 pm
Location: U.S.

Re: Language

Post by Resha Caner »

Wootah wrote:As a programmer I am quite a bit frustrated having to learn new languages all the time that all do basically the same thing.
I understand your frustration, but isn't it interesting that we technical people are multi-lingual?

I sometimes despair that I am so bound by English. I can survive German if required, and I know a little Spanish. But all-in-all I'm monolingual ... except, maybe not. When I talk about work, people tell me I'm speaking a foreign language. It is typical to use the pejorative "jargon" to describe technical languages, but as time goes on I agree with that less and less.
Ginkgo
Posts: 2636
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:47 pm

Re: Language

Post by Ginkgo »

Wootah wrote:As a programmer I am quite a bit frustrated having to learn new languages all the time that all do basically the same thing.

Now I am aware that new features do occur and sometimes it is better to rewrite the language for efficiency improvements and yet it all seems like same old same old - loops, logical structures, functions blah blah.

Now here is the question:

Are all languages that exist today sufficient for describing reality? Are we missing anything from English that another language has?

I sometimes wonder that if we don't have a word for something then we can't see it. Do you agree?

Anything you want to add?

I don't think we have to go much further than Wittgenstein to answer your question. Wittgenstein came to realize in his earlier writing that he was wrong. The possibility of a perfect language which accurately mirrors the world in not attainable.

In his later writings Wittgenstein claims that language cannot be reduced to a simple essence. Reductionism works well for science;with language we discover no new facts. Language is a complicated activity learned in many ways and any search for 'real' meaning behind experience is a waste of time. On that basis I would say English is no better or worse than any other language. All languages attempt to give an account of the world that is meaningful to that particular individual.
User avatar
The Voice of Time
Posts: 2234
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:18 pm
Location: Norway

Re: Language

Post by The Voice of Time »

Wootah wrote:
I sometimes wonder that if we don't have a word for something then we can't see it. Do you agree?
If you dont have word for it you may not notice its existence. But youll see it
User avatar
Arising_uk
Posts: 12314
Joined: Wed Oct 17, 2007 2:31 am

Re: Language

Post by Arising_uk »

The Voice of Time wrote:If you dont have word for it you may not notice its existence. But youll see it
I agree.
Wootah
Posts: 223
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:43 am

Re: Language

Post by Wootah »

The Voice of Time wrote:
Wootah wrote:
I sometimes wonder that if we don't have a word for something then we can't see it. Do you agree?
If you dont have word for it you may not notice its existence. But youll see it
I tentatively suggest that seems to me to be begging the question.
Mike Strand
Posts: 406
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 6:54 am
Location: USA

Re: Language

Post by Mike Strand »

Good topic, Wootah!

This may help the discussion along: I think the Eskimos have many different concepts, and words, for "snow", to describe the different types of snow. I've seen a fair amount of snow and have described it in a few various ways; e.g., (1) heavy, sticky and wet, and (2) dry, light, powdery. But apparently some Eskimo peoples have a lot larger vocabulary, and even separate nouns, for many varieties of snow.

This may suggest that we can see or experience things, and even different types of a thing, and deal with or interact with these things and their variations, before making up words for them.
Post Reply