Like your mistakes: The beauty of confusing words
This essay is a meditation on the paradoxes of language as a system. Being fluent in more languages can be a poetic experience. - written as graduation thesis in 2009
They ____ a temper, some of them __ particularly verbs, they ___ the proudest -- adjectives you ___ anything with, but not verbs however, I ____ the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That __ what I __.
Redundancy - Alice in Woordenland
tune/toon, tyoon/ –noun
Tune for Fortune - Alice in Woordenland
- Sentence first, verdict afterwards
We feel alone too
We feel too alone
Two - Alice in Woordenland
Love who you do
Do who you love
Who do you love
Do you love who?
What/Who? - Alice in Woordenland
Hold/Love/Wood - Alice in Woordenland
The missing link - Alice in Woordenland
generate/jen-uh-reyt/–verb (used with object)
Engeneric Generation Generate - Alice in Woordenland
overexcited; overstimulated; keyed up.
hibernate/ˈhɪbərˌneɪt/–verb (used without object), -nat⋅ed, -nat⋅ing.
To be in an inactive or dormant state or period.
hyp/bernate - Alice in Woordenland
deviating from the usual or proper course in conduct or opinion; eccentric; queer: erratic behavior.
subject to or marked by strong sexual desire.
a deviation from accuracy or correctness; a mistake, as in action or speech: His speech contained several factual errors.
Errotic - Alice in Woordenland
seeing all this - all this this - all this this here - folly for to see what - glimpse - seem to glimpse - need to seem to glimpse - afaint afar away over there what - folly for to need to seem to glimpse afaint afar away over there what - what - what is the word - what is the word
Words are beautiful. You can build and play with them. Words can create, form and reform meaning. They can also confuse and destroy meaning. Words can destroy the meanings of words. Words are a part of this bigger system, language.
As this system is invisible, most of us take language for granted.
However, it is not until there is conflict or miscommunication if you will, that the system surfaces and its fragility becomes self-evident.
"It is now agreed that the effectiveness of the acts that may convert the message into text (including speaking, writing, drawing and physical movements) depends upon the knowledge of the sender. If the sender is not familiar with the current language, its codes and its culture then he or she will not be able to say anything at all..."*
The questions which arise then, are the following: How simple is language really?; How effective are words?; What happens if you use another word in place of the one that seems most logical?; How does the wrong word affect the whole sentence?; Is it then considered a mistake?; Has it done damage?; If language is your tool for communication, is it the ultimate tool?
Miscommunication happens often as a result of misused words.
"Inevitably and necessarily, the culture that produces language also confines it. Left to its own devices, it can quickly break through boundaries meant to hold it in. Inherently promiscuous, language is divided by a fragile barrier separating carefully contained expression from the perverse screams of a madman. Belonging to another language and another culture, it is this delicate boundary that the non-native student is not in a position to fear nor respect."
Shaping the abstract
Limiting, limited, limits
Consider words as these vehicles of "the abstract". We are giving abstraction a recognizable shape, a word, to get a certain message across. Let us add "articulation" into this process. All of this is a continuous movement, a flow, that leads to the creation of meaning. We use words to capture and constrain ideas. We lock them down into temporary manifestations showing only aspects of our idea. This is where we realize that communication is subjective. Your associations with an idea as you stand in front of a crowd looking for the proper words to express your idea, will never be the same as the associations of your listeners. Your idea will probably, for the greatest part, come across as you intended it, but never as precisely. Each of your listeners will interpret your idea to the best of their own understanding; Within the limits of their own reference.*
"Neither the sender nor the receiver of a text has a perfect grasp of all language. Each individual's relatively small stock of knowledge is the product of personal experience and their attitude to learning. When the audience receives the message, there will always be an excess of connotative meanings available to be applied to the particular signs in their context (no matter how relatively complete or incomplete their knowledge, the cognitive process is the same)."
In this context, as aspects of a same idea, words mirror each other, link to each other, work together, correspond, correlate, combine, join and divide.
New presences in the world
"That the subject should come to recognize and to name his/her desire, that is the efficacious action of analysis. But it is not a question of recognizing something which would be entirely given. In naming it, the subject creates, brings forth, a new presence in the world."
We have reached the point where we separate from what is already a given, speaking your mother tongue. We get introduced to a new language. A whole new system which comes forth from a whole new culture. *
So we take on naming a step further, in this other language. It is now that you start perceiving language as outside of yourself. The process not automated anymore, as it doesn't come naturally. Yet, you can perform in this new language, following the new rules. This is when for you, structures surface up. Your mind becomes (as it has always been) this juggler, who now makes acute distinctions between everything that's external to you, giving it a name, placing it somewhere; In one system; Then another system. Maybe a third system as well.
You are aware of the sphere of symbols, and the different systems where these abstract ideas belong to and perform a specific function. This is when you understand the subtlety of names. That within each system, each name is only an aspect. This is why we have more words to express the same idea, depending on the situation. Moreover, the system, determines the proper name. This is something that translators are familiar with. Looking to translate a word, they do not only look up the verbatim meaning in the dictionary, but must also consider the context in order to find the proper translation. It is by working in the Symbolic order that the analyst can produce changes in the subjective position of the analysand; these changes will produce imaginary effects since the Imaginary is structured by the Symbolic. Thus, it is the Symbolic which is determinant of subjectivity, and the Imaginary, made of images and appearances, is the effect of the Symbolic.
"Now, although the truth about desire is somehow present in discourse, discourse can never articulate the whole truth about desire: whenever discourse attempts to articulate desire, there is always a leftover, a surplus."
Words, works, worlds
Cracking the communication code
"In any communication system the receiver must be able to decode something of what the transmitter coded or no information gets to the destination at all. If you speak Chinese to me, I must know Chinese to understand your words."
Wittgenstein: Red is independent of it's color
"To imagine a language is to imagine a form of life"
"Language isn't a picture at all. It's a tool; an instrument. There isn't just one picture of the world. There are lots of different language games. Different forms of life. Different ways of doing things with words. They don't all hang together."
"These words, it seems to me, give us a particular picture of the essence of human language. It is this: the individual words in language name objects--sentences are combinations of such names.--In this picture of language we find the roots of the following idea: Every word has a meaning. The meaning is correlated with the word. It is the object for which the word stands."
"Now think of the following use of language: I send someone shopping. I give him a slip marked 'five red apples'. He takes the slip to the shopkeeper, who opens the drawer marked 'apples', then he looks up the word 'red' in a table and finds a color sample opposite it; then he says the series of cardinal numbers--I assume that he knows them by heart--up to the word 'five' and for each number he takes an apple of the same color as the sample out of the drawer.--It is in this and similar ways that one operates with words--"But how does he know where and how he is to look up the word 'red' and what he is to do with the word 'five'?" ---Well, I assume that he 'acts' as I have described. Explanations come to an end somewhere.--But what is the meaning of the word 'five'? --No such thing was in question here, only how the word 'five' is used."*
"We learn to use words because we belong to a culture; a form of life; a practical way of doing things. In the end, we speak as we do, because of what we do. And all of this is a populi public affair."
The international code
Outside of one system there lies another, greater system
"Every language is a conventional code system. It is not like the one used in diplomacy, which often changes according to the situation. Instead, a language resembles the traffic code, which is permanent and easy to understand. Red commands us to stop in all regions of the world. Green tells us to proceed. Arrows show the direction of traffic. Languages, too, have their international codes: punctuation marks."*
"For example, “to turn” is a verb whose basic meaning changes completely when certain adverbs are added to it. These combinations of verbs and adverbs, called phrasal verbs, need to be remembered one by one, as new words.
Here are just a few examples:
I turned down (I rejected)
you turned up (you appeared)
he turned in (he went to bed)
we turned over (we sold)
you turned out (you produced)
they turned on (they switched on)"*
"In a hundred years, 'drizzle' might be pronounced 'dritszel', but that will be of no importance as long as the place occupied by the consonant in the middle of the word is filled by something that allows us to continue to differentiate the word from other similar words in the English language, such as 'dribble'."
Caught in between somewhere this and that
I was studying in room. I was using dictionary to look up word meaning. Suddenly, word disappeared. I was surprised and I turned over two or three pages. All page's word disappeared. Then, red spot appeared in the white pages. It became bigger and bigger. At that time I woke up. And I searched for my dictionary. I found the last page was stained with red spot. And I took the other book and turned over the pages. All page's word disappeared. Then I looked at myself in the mirror. All the word sticked in my face. I shouted and I went down the stairs in a hurry. I went to my parent's bedroom. I shouted again. My parent's face was pitch-black.*
"Language is arrogantly assumed to be a tool that one controls towards some kind of precise description of a delicate inner event. Perhaps it is just as much the contrary that is true: We are the tool and language is in control of us. And besides, language probably has more to say than we ever could. We get in the way of allowing language to speak!"
"[...] the result of three ‘future’ folds [...] and the folding of language - or the uncovering of a ‘strange language within language’, an atypical and signifying form of expression that exists at the limits of language."
"A complicated structure? Undoubtedly. But after all, the cathedral of Milan is complicated too, and you still look at it with awe." You got to know the rules in order to break them. Furthermore, you got to know the rules in order to know you are breaking them and to realize that breaking the rules (of language) is actually fun. It's what sets language in movement. It's what gives it rhythm. It's poetry!*
'When _I_ use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less.' 'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you CAN make words mean so many different things.' 'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master--that's all.'
As absurd as it sounds, in essence, only you know what you really mean. And you do your best to make it clear to your listeners. Therefore, is communication not absolute. It is relative and "The meaning of a word is just the way it is used in a particular language game."
--Sleep...no further...no more searching...to find him...in the dark...to see him...to say him...for whom...that's it...no matter...never him...never right...start again...in the dark...done with that...this time...it's the right one...we're there...nearly...finish--