Thursday, March 31, 2005

Language is map, mind is territory.

[Draft post of Nov-29-04 - now completed.]

Mouth foaming, brush vigorously laboring at inadvertent gum destruction, face pulled under the cake of an ubtan mask, and the mind? Busy with The Da Vinci Code. Of all other places that it can wander off to during the nightly cleansing ritual, the mind chose to discover the territory of cryptology.

I was realizing with wonder how our words represent us? Several years ago, I read something by Harvard philosopher
Richard Heck. His principle interests lie in the areas of philosophy of language, logic, and mathematics. He explained how words are used to encode concepts that exist in our minds. If I am correct, he talked about sounds and the origin of language?

To summarize, language is used as a code to represent the concepts that exist in our minds. This is why some concepts - such as "mother" - have nearly universal phonetic representations: ma, mama, maan...

This is interesting. I reached the conclusuion that language is a map to the territory of mind. (Thank you anyone else who's put it this way before me. I love the meeting-of-minds thing.) I had first stumbled upon that theorem more than a decade ago in a Reader's Digest collection of essays on the human mind. An author was suprised how his mother was able to guess that one of their friends was pregnant. "Didn't you hear? Her language was all about nurturing and children and care!"

This is the best thing about the language-mind relationship: we can reverse-engineer the language to figure out what's going on in the mind. Such as when too many if's, but's, umm's, and err's are peppered in the speech, we are dealing with a confused and unsure personality. AND what's even more curious is that if we pick up a certain pattern of speech only if to imitate, it will begin changing the mind! Do not copy any iffy personality, even for fun! There were a deeper purpose behind those manner lessons.

Perhaps an addition to the topic statement is already in order.

P.S. Ok, thank you Google! I have found the link to Richard Heck's interview here.

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