September 20, 2006

Language, Linguistics, Lightning Round

[An argument I was having over whether the English language was precise because it had many words and definitions or whether all those definitions and words created ambiguity instead of precision] I favor the former, Kevin favors the latter.]

No, it means the same thing, modified by the shades of meaning. It does not mean different things in different situations. Difference logically derives from different logical premises, and different logical premises results in different meanings for words. The meaning for a key and a keystone and the various other 80% of the usages on dictionary.com, is of course, based upon the same logical premise. The same abstract imaginary coordinate in space. Words mean different things when their meanings are not related abstractedly at all.

It’s simple analogy, kevin. You don’t know what a keystone is, you don’t know that the “key” means important? You have problems correlating this

As to the issue that began this thread, I have to agree with DQ on this one–why sweat the small stuff?

with this

A keystone is small, kevin, but it doesn’t mean it should be ignored.

?

Okay. If you have problems, that’s fine. I can spell it out.

Some of the keystones of a language, that which holds everything together, is its structure, the rules, and the meaning of words. So, even though these things look small, their importance is comparable to the importance a keystone holds for an architectural structure. Small, but if you ignore it or break it, it will cause a systematic crash. Do you understand the answer to your question “why sweat the small stuff” now?

Here’s how you, Kevin, differ with me. I believe that words have meaning, irrespective of how you massage the sentence and the context. You believe words have meaning because you get it from context alone. Your words, not mine. You said it comes down to context. It comes down to context in Chinese, and perhaps intonation of the syllables in spoken form. But not in English.

Context, is also known as the reality part of meaning in language. I am refering, of course, to phasor mathematics. Converting from rectangular to polar, polar to rectangular. The English language is setup so that it has two components. A real, and an imaginary. The imaginary component is the abstract, it is how our thoughts are organized, it does not come from what we see or feel in the world. Mathematics is abstract, but just because it is abstract, does not mean it cannot affect the real world. Thus x and y. i and j for imaginary y, and x for the real x axis. 5 + 5i instead of x,y.

Context is the x coordinate, horizontal axis. The abstract component is the y part, i or j. You believe the meaning of words come from context, without context the meaning of words are confused. There’s two practical applications, one for you, one for me.

You could go with the context model, which Clinton also used when he said “it depends upon what the meaning of is is”. It depends upon the context in which a word is used, to decipher the imaginary portion of that word, its abstract meaning.

Or you could go with my model, in which the real part, context, and the imaginary abstract part, the i, are independent of each other. Only when you convert them to polar form, do they affect each other.

The reason my model is more precise, as an application of the English language, is because I have two independent axis from which to choose variables from. You only have one, context. Words have meaning based upon context, all other methods produce confusion.

My model doesn’t produce confusion, because it allows for the existence of the abstract part independent of the real existing or not. Meaning, words have abstract meanings regardless of how they exist in a sentence, independent of the context even. So instead of the real dictating what the abstract means, the abstract dictates to the real what it is. And vice a versa. My model can do it both either ways. yours is sort of a one way street.

This allows more variables, more precision, and more shades of meaning, without losing the “definition” of a word by changing it into something it is not.

Instead of saying “let’s talk about what the definition of is, is”, I say, let’s talk about combining the abstract definition of is with the context of what situation you wish to use it in conjunction with.

I bolded the word “different” for a reason, you know. It’s more different than just “different”. The previous example is of using the same word in different real locations, with different abstract meanings. This is an example of where the abstract is modified by the real context, creating ambiguous meanings when one word is used many times in different contexts and for different abstract meanings.

If that doesn’t make sense, let’s just say that the sentence I used “different than just different” is what kevin was talking about in terms of the word key. Not the same thing, I think. Can you use context to figure out what I was talking about? Yes you can. But you lack something, and that something is called “precision”. If you can’t tell which part is from which manufacturer, if you can’t tell which part is part of which generation, then you will lack precision in your design work.

The way key is used, refering to kevin’s complaint about the number of variations in the dictionary, is this way.


1. a small metal instrument specially cut to fit into a lock and move its bolt.

9. the system, method, pattern, etc., used to decode or decipher a cryptogram, as a code book, machine setting, or key word.

12. Music.
a. (in a keyboard instrument) one of the levers that when depressed by the performer sets in motion the playing mechanism.
b. (on a woodwind instrument) a metal lever that opens and closes a vent.
c. the relationship perceived between all tones in a given unit of music and a single tone or a keynote; tonality.
d. the principal tonality of a composition: a symphony in the key of C minor.
e. the keynote or tonic of a scale.

Here are the synonymns and antonymns of the word key

Synonyms: basic, chief, crucial, decisive, fundamental, important, indispensable, leading, main, major, material, pivotal, primary, principal, vital
Antonyms: peripheral, secondary

Key=principal object I use to open the lock on my primary structure of residence.

To wrap it all up. Let’s just say that there are 3 components to the meaning of a word. Its contextual real part, its abstract imaginary part, and its polar hybrid part which is both its real part and abstract part combined.

The definitions for key you see here all have the same abstract component. The abstract component of “primary”, “necessary”, that which revolves in your head when you think about what you NEED. That thought, that’s the abstract thought I’m refering to. The “meaning” derives when you have the context. If you are talking about musical instruments, the “key” then becomes that which relates to the context of musical instruments and other similar situations. Context plus abstract, equals polar hybrid.

So, what does this all mean you might be thinking. What does this have to do with what I or Kevin were talking about? It can be wrapped up in a short description, so be not afraid.

“When people choose to use fewer words, and keep using the same words in their vocabulary to mean DIFFERENT things in different situations, then that is imprecision.”

And the single word key means many different things in different situtations–it comes down to the context in which it is used and can lead to confusion, so what again is your point?

Comment by kevin | September 19, 2006

Words that mean different things are words with different polar hybrids. Different situations means different abstract parts of the rectangular coordinate, real with imaginary.

So, how are you able to use the “same” word, to mean different things, in different situations? You can and the Democrats do. Torture is beneath our dignity and the dignity of humanity, therefore torture should be illegal. The CIA torturing someone then, is wrong.

You have one word, torture, with the same abstract coordinate, to inflict pain purposefully, combined with 3 different contextual real coordinates. To inflict pain combined with beneath our dignity, a moral result and meaning. To inflict pain combined with law, making it illegal to inflict pain purposefully. Then finally you have to inflict pain combined with the ethical judgement, that it is wrong, that it should not be done in any situation.

Used in an argument that appears to be logical, and what you have is one method of creating a circular argument using ambiguous semantics, words, and meanings.

Greater precision would automatically expose the illogic, only greater ambiguity can cover up gross deficiencies like the incident I’ve described.

But what does this have to do with the word key? Because the definitions listed for key are for different meanings. Different meanings, of different words, in different contexts. Kevin assumed that all the definitions listed for key were talking about meant that you were going to get a lot of confusion when you use the word multiple words of “key” in the same sentence.

I think that would be correct, but that is why I specified “fewer words”. More words, mean more precision. More variations of that one word, means if you do have two of them, you don’t have to figure out based upon the context what the meaning of the word “key” means. You can actually figure out the context from the meaning of a word, if you lack the context. Or you can figure out the meaning of the word key, from its context. But that is only because there are already numerous meanings for key, used in different situations. Since key has preset configurations, you just look it up.

If you had one word that meant one thing in one situation, only. What would you do if the contextual situation changed? You only have the imaginary part, how are you going to get the real part, then combine them together to get the meaning? Very hard to impossible, and still very imprecise and slow.

Practical application? the word torture.
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=torture&x=0&y=0

Not many meanings to that word. So, when I want to use torture to mean good things, for necessary things, do I use torture or do I use another word, hard interrogation methods? Is torture just too… EngSoc to include all the different shades of meaning I demand that it be capable of?

When a person says he doesn’t like torture, does he mean he doesn’t like the infliction of pain on purpose or does he mean he doesn’t like tormenting a person for revenge? How do you tell the difference by context alone? You can’t, because because they are the same word.

1. the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.

holy Christ. You have 3 meanings in one word, for one instance of a definition. I think my model is more preferable. My model, the many definitions for the word key, is more precise than kevin’s model where it says the less definitions the less confusing.

People can decide whatever they want, this was not easy to come up with.

For reference purposes, or just if you are confused. Here’s a logic whatever.

X=real=context=contextual=situation=environment used=X coordinate

y=imaginary=i=j=abstract=pure thought=abstract meaning

polar hybrid form=meaning, the kind of things it means=what you get when you take a word and combine it with the context in which that word is used= x+y. Also x+iy.

Comment by Ymarsakar | September 20, 2006

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