"To inspire them to realize more and more of their capacities for living meaningful lives. Because there certainly is meaning to life."
-John Coltrane on Uplifting Others

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Man's Need for Labeling

This cartoon came to mind when I read d'Alembert's thoughts on Language. In the light of Saussure, d'Alembert is an idealist with linguistic signs. He sees the evolutions of language as embodying man's need to convey abstract thought with clarity.
But how clear is language? Does the word dog look like a dog, or is it an arbitrary collection of linguistic signs we have readily accepted as defining a canine?
In my postmodern American literature last year, we discussed the fallibility of language. I thought of this during my creative writing class, and reinforced the thought when reading the Preliminary Discourse.
For the record, I love language. It's the best we've got, but I think it important to question just how effective our communicative skills are, especially when facing a digital world that has multiple languages and variations of language. It would be interesting to look into the digital language that is being created to overcome these communicative hurdles. Any ideas?


  1. Well, an interesting communication hurdle is text-only conversations, like texting. I have often missed sarcasm or other tones that I would have understood in a spoken conversation in a texting conversation. I think things like Skype, which facilitate communication with body language, spoken word and text overcome that particular hurdle.

  2. One interesting development that I have noticed is the emoticons that people use. I am not a huge user of them but I have noticed that the emoticons i.e. smiley faces, sad faces, can be used to convey expression. Just a thought.