• Wheatley
    Throughout the English-speaking world speakers and writers use the same nouns, verbs, and adjectives, repetitively. For instance, the noun 'tree' is used by artists and orchid farmers, alike. When the same language is used over and over again in different areas of life, a pattern of language emerges. Children can pick up on patterns of language and learn their mother's tongue.

    What is it about language that makes it so useful? Similar words and concepts are used over and over again, in many different contexts. Could it be that language picks up on things that repeat. Does language mirror the patterns we perceive in our shared reality?

    What is it that makes language so useful?
  • DingoJones
    The ability to communicate and ideas.
  • Nils Loc
    Gwada fanna ledo foop. Cesca denudo sek sek roo, kanak dej du ankh.
  • Hermeticus
    What is it that makes language so useful?Wheatley

    Just imagine a world where Homo Sapiens doesn't invent language. We'd still be in the stone age. Other Hominin species had bipedalism, tools and fire long before us. Language set us apart from all these other species. It's the basis of every breakthrough invention ever since our emergence. From agrarian culture to computers and quantum science today.
  • Wayfarer
    Gwada fanna ledo foop.Nils Loc

    Fnno foo! ex0hejg.

    Just imagine a world where Homo Sapiens doesn't invent language. We'd still be in the stone age.Hermeticus

    Wouldn't have made it that far, I would suggest.
  • TheMadFool
    I'm reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari and he mentions a theory that language was used primarily for gossip by early humans - it served the specific purpose of letting individuals know who in the tribe were reliable, trustworthy, friendship/boyfriend material, etc. and who were not. Language, this theory implies, strengthened the social bonds; not implausible as the one and only advantage we had over other animals was to be found in our social nature and not as individuals.

    Also, just a few days ago, I watched Richard Dawkins interview Steven Pinker and another interesting theory was touched upon - language like musical inclination could be nothing more than a byproduct of something more important to survival and that language proved to be useful was simply an accident. What that something is, I have no idea; perhaps something to do with the placement and anatomy of our trachea, epiglottis, esophagus, etc. (shooting in the dark here).

    It bears mentioning that language isn't actually an exclusively human ability - ants use chemical language, poisonous rain forest frogs use light to signal their toxicity (they're colorful), birds sing to each other, dogs use scent, and so on.
  • StreetlightX
    I like Daniel Dor's thesis that language's utility (or what he calls 'functional specificity') consists in coordinating imagination. In particular, it works to bring what is not 'present to experience' (i.e. what is literally in front of people) to mind. Like, if you want to understand the specificity of language (symbolic language in particular), it's worth comparing it to other means of communication. Like, for instance, gestures (pointing, showing fists, screeching). In this latter case, the immediate environment needs to be 'part' of the communicative process: I point to that thing there, I show my fists to indicate my willingness to fight, etc. But (symbolic) language allows us to communicate about things which are not experientially available in the immediate environment. It is the difference between presentation and re-presentation. This is really damn useful.

    Dor: "In the creative activity of imagination, the listener may in principle imagine in a wide variety of ways, all of which would always follow the analogue complexities of his or her own experiential world, never that of the speaker. The code [of a language] should thus be able to instruct the listener in a process in which he or she has to create not only a more or less focused image (an object of imagination, not necessarily a visual representation)—but also a focused image that more or less corresponds to the original experience of the speaker: an image of the same type. This is a very ambitious goal. The strategy of instructive communication does this through the coordinated investment of enormous social energies in the never-ending process of careful mapping and marking of those points in experience, and those ways of speaking, which the different speakers within the community may, more or less reliably, count on in the process".
  • Gobuddygo

    Maybe because it allows us toTALK? There is a huge variety of free forms whirling around in our brains. Various meanings, images, worldviews, categories, ideas, fantasies, dreams, or take your pick. We are free thinkers, contrary to animals with their fixed clothes and thinking and their standard expressions. Language makes us understand one another while at the same time it can make us feel the loneliest creatures in the world. Language is beautifull, varied, idiosyncratic, cultural, ambivalent, and can be an expression of freedom. Language is what we yearn for to express, to belong, to stand apart, to describe or make strangers understand. Be it writen words, body gestures, or loud shouting.

    Since science rules suppreme thousands of natural languages have dissappeared, to be replaced by English (though a common language can be easy, of course: Esperanto) and the so-called language of nature: mathematics. Math is not what I hear though when I listen to nature talking (though it's a nice language, if you understand it, as I do).
  • Gobuddygo
    Just imagine a world where Homo Sapiens doesn't invent language. We'd still be in the stone age.Hermeticus

    But without hydrogen bombs or pollution and western decadence.
  • Wheatley
    I'm reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah HarariTheMadFool
    Couldn't get into that.
  • Wheatley
    Maybe because it allows us toTALK?Gobuddygo
  • TheMadFool
    Couldn't get into thatWheatley

    It's quite interesting. I've read only a handful of chapters but I've already learned quite a bit.
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