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Vocabulary and Nuances and the Education Thereof

 
 
Khethil
 
Reply Fri 25 Sep, 2009 01:58 pm
I can't help but wonder if much of the communicative difficulties we encounter - day to day - might yet be a result of our inability to communicate accurately. In this time, when plain-speak seems to only deserve our praise, I can't help but notice that the art of communicating subtleties may have passed us by, relegating our communications to a never-ending chain of blacks and whites.

We can't lose those greys lest our combined view devolve into generation after generation of two-dimensional thinkers. Who here thinks it makes no difference: mauve or purple?

Translate this into the realm of philosophical communication and its import should come clear: An appreciation of the art of letters is paramount to our ability to grasp our collective, inescapable truth: Life is complex and full of nuance. If such is not taught nor appreciated, might we end up polarized, perpetually in dispute? Arguing where no real disagreement might, in fact, exist...

Just a thought... comment is invited.
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The Dude phil phil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 05:15 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil;93605 wrote:
relegating our communications to a never-ending chain of blacks and whites.


Doubleplusungood, comrade.

Big Brother will know of your treachery.

Razz


This nuance you're talking about is still very present in human speech. Perhaps you've only been exposed to rather uneducated people (sorry if I seem at all snobbish saying this) who don't possess as expansive a vocabulary as you.

Most people always have, and probably always will want life handed to them in a straightforward fashion. This is bad. This is good. This is boring. This is exciting. This is barbaric. This is civil.

People don't like to think. That's why society manages to be as uniform as it is.
Rubix Cube
 
  1  
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 07:15 pm
@The Dude phil phil,
The_Dude;96397 wrote:
Perhaps you've only been exposed to rather uneducated people (sorry if I seem at all snobbish saying this) who don't possess as expansive a vocabulary as you.


Actually it seems that the younger generations (my generation included) are becoming progressively less intelligent as time advances. With the advent of the internet and the instant messaging/face book phenomenon, the size of our vocabulary and our ability to convey ideas has diminished. The generation under me is already plagued with the inability to properly wright in the English language and defers to internet "chat speak" (see definition here Urban Dictionary: Chat speak ) when writing and occasionally when speaking. As such it's no surprise that a person could go their entire lives without meeting very many literate people... And I can only imagine what form of English the next generation will adopt as they grow up.

James (Rubix Cube)
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 08:47 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil;93605 wrote:
I can't help but wonder if much of the communicative difficulties we encounter - day to day - might yet be a result of our inability to communicate accurately. In this time, when plain-speak seems to only deserve our praise, I can't help but notice that the art of communicating subtleties may have passed us by, relegating our communications to a never-ending chain of blacks and whites.

We can't lose those greys lest our combined view devolve into generation after generation of two-dimensional thinkers. Who here thinks it makes no difference: mauve or purple?

Translate this into the realm of philosophical communication and its import should come clear: An appreciation of the art of letters is paramount to our ability to grasp our collective, inescapable truth: Life is complex and full of nuance. If such is not taught nor appreciated, might we end up polarized, perpetually in dispute? Arguing where no real disagreement might, in fact, exist...

Just a thought... comment is invited.



When philosophers make linguistic distinctions to communicate subtleties, people tend to disparage it by calling it, "semantics" or, "playing with words".
0 Replies
 
The Dude phil phil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 04:35 pm
@Rubix Cube,
Rubix Cube;96418 wrote:
Actually it seems that the younger generations (my generation included) are becoming progressively less intelligent as time advances. With the advent of the internet and the instant messaging/face book phenomenon, the size of our vocabulary and our ability to convey ideas has diminished. The generation under me is already plagued with the inability to properly wright in the English language and defers to internet "chat speak" (see definition here Urban Dictionary: Chat speak ) when writing and occasionally when speaking. As such it's no surprise that a person could go their entire lives without meeting very many literate people... And I can only imagine what form of English the next generation will adopt as they grow up.

James (Rubix Cube)


The people you see resorting to using chat speak in academic essays are the illiterate majority that have always existed around us. They usually grow up to live average lives and working in simple office jobs and manual labor.

Jobs that will be replaced by artificial intelligence as time goes on, increasing the need for creative and scientific minds over brawny bodies.

Stupidity is often largest and loudest in a given population.

Talk to the kids who are quiet and reserved. They often, not always, keep their mouths shut because they're too busy thinking and learning to cast their pearls before the swine.

I honestly think the internet is increasing literacy for some people.

I know I wouldn't be half as well-spoken as I am now if I weren't exposed to intellectual online communities like this and wonderful little resources like online thesauri to aid me in my writing.

Yes, libraries have served the same function as the internet for centuries, albeit less efficiently. I can see myself as more of a bookworm had I been born three or four decades earlier, but I wouldn't have learned as much because I'm lazy and because something like a laptop has the potential to provide more information than an entire encyclopedia collection could- and it can fit in a portable bag. :whistling:


Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 06:54 am
@The Dude phil phil,
Rubix Cube;96418 wrote:
The generation under me is already plagued with the inability to properly wright in the English language


You mean "write in the English language", I think.

Sorry, I had to point it out - mostly because everything you say is correct making the typo ironic.

I think the problem goes back to the advent of television. I'm too afraid to even look into the average grade-level vocabulary of television shows today.

Now, kids spend their time glued to the television, only glancing away long enough to hammer out a quick text message, "Lolz 4 reel" "sup playa" "u 2" and so on. Practice makes perfect, and imperfect practice... well, you guys get it.
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 06:56 am
@Khethil,
Are you saying that the quality of our thoughts can only be as great as the quality of our language?

---------- Post added 10-13-2009 at 09:22 AM ----------

First of all, to the above posts, I don't think we're considering all of the ways technology is improving, not devolving or diminishing, the language of our youth. And not just our youth, but every one in the world. Though this sounds awefully cliche, we do have access to more information now than ever before. People can research virtually anything, and find out anything about language they desire. I'm fairly certain that without my exposure to sites like these, my vocabulary and ability to communicate would be less mature.

As for the claim that humans are progressively becoming less and less intelligent, I'm going to need more proof than the advent of chat-speak.

Khethil, I'm not sure you were even referring to technology, though. What is making you think that people, these days, are ignoring the greys, the subtleties?
0 Replies
 
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 07:23 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;97150 wrote:
I think the problem goes back to the advent of television. I'm too afraid to even look into the average grade-level vocabulary of television shows today.

Now, kids spend their time glued to the television, only glancing away long enough to hammer out a quick text message, "Lolz 4 reel" "sup playa" "u 2" and so on. Practice makes perfect, and imperfect practice... well, you guys get it.


I think you're right (and if blame should be placed, I'd damn text-messaging more than the boob-tube); but this actually reminds me of another factor that really has a bearing here.[INDENT] It's always bothered me - on some immature level - that most published dictionaries add new words and definitions all the time based on what's being used. I'm not sure this is a problem, per say, but it does mean that every trendy-grunt or pronounced acronym has a chance of becoming legitimized. And for definitions, for example, if enough people think "Shirt" means "Condom": Ta da! It stands a good chance at being added as Definition 300 for that word. Haven't we enough confusion?

In other words, should the tail wag the dog or vice-versa?

With no 'authority' in what is a legitimate word; and that society at-large drives what's legitimized, our language pretty much goes anyway it wants. I suppose this could be looked at as an ongoing vocal-emancipation of sorts, even so, I fear the lines blur far too much - and not everything added to established dictionaries ought to be added.
[/INDENT]But language is one of those dynamics that has a give-and-take side. We translate thought into word-representations, yet our definitions cause thought to 'spawn' and change thought based on what we believe they mean (both in the communicative "In" box as well as what we put out). It's almost a feedback loop.

But back to the point: My perception is that having a broad vocabulary is not only not 'desired', to many it's looked down upon (memories of Idiocracy). If this is at all accurate, the spiral-down accelerates; dumbing us down more and more. Also: It's my belief that human nature seeks the easiest, quickest and shortest route to it's tasks across the spectrum. Again, to the extent that this holds true, it naturally follows that we'll become less wordy (which might be desirable for many applications). Even so, this polarizes our language, increases misunderstanding and conflict due to simple, avoidable, mis-communication.

Thanks
0 Replies
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 07:34 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:

But back to the point: My perception is that having a broad vocabulary is not only not 'desired', to many it's looked down upon (memories of Idiocracy). If this is at all accurate, the spiral-down accelerates; dumbing us down more and more. Also: It's my belief that human nature seeks the easiest, quickest and shortest route to it's tasks across the spectrum. Again, to the extent that this holds true, it naturally follows that we'll become less wordy (which might be desirable for many applications). Even so, this polarizes our language, increases misunderstanding and conflict due to simple, avoidable, mis-communication.



Khethil, I'm curious: When do you believe our highest point in terms of communicative ability was, as a species?

Are you sure this "spiral-down" is unique to our period in time? Couldn't we name many periods in human history, especially during the Dark Ages, where many people were uneducated and didn't value the complexity in language? If we're speaking of misunderstanding and conflict, there's been misunderstanding and conflict since the dawn of our species, regardless how sophisticated or wordy our communication has been.

I understand your point, but I'm not quite understanding why what you're saying is unique to our period in time. It seems we could make the argument for a great many periods in time, and we're definitely not doing that bad in comparison.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 07:55 am
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;97162 wrote:
Khethil, I'm curious: When do you believe our highest point in terms of communicative ability was, as a species?


I'm not sure. I suppose I'd have to say that various cultures have had a number of high and low points with regards to perspicuity (further, it'd depend on what one might define as higher or lower). Even then, such would also depend on one 'circle' of people communication too place with. I'm not sure one could delineate one better or worse time per say; if such was the case, I don't know it off hand.

I do know what I perceive: I perceive a great deal of what I call "Violent Agreement", wherein two or more persons are in - what appears to be - a verbal confrontation yet the essence of what each is trying to communicate is not so different than it seems; again, to the extent that this is true I'd place a high wager on it likely being a product of the inability to enunciate subtleties in meaning. Is this vocabulary? I can't honestly say with absolute certainty - it certainly seems so

Zetherin;97162 wrote:
Are you sure this "spiral-down" is unique to our period in time? Couldn't we name many periods in human history, especially during the Dark Ages, where many people were uneducated and didn't value the complexity in language?


I'm not sure it is unique. I'm not sure uniqueness plays a part in whether or not such a thing is cause for concern.

Zetherin;97162 wrote:
I understand your point, but I'm not quite understanding why what you're saying is unique to our period in time. It seems we could make the argument for a great many periods in time, and we're definitely not doing that bad in comparison.


I gotcha, and your point is well-received. However, look at any issue or problem we come up with: Might we cast off concern based on "it's happened before?" - I don't think so. But again, I think your point does indeed help place it into context; I do suggest we take care: Because something, in some way and in some place, has been an issue before, doesn't invalidate the attention it warrants in the here and now.

Nice reply, thanks.

---------- Post added 10-13-2009 at 09:11 AM ----------

Zetherin;97152 wrote:
Are you saying that the quality of our thoughts can only be as great as the quality of our language?


I'm not sure this was addressed to me, but I would like to respond.

No, not per say. But they do influence thought. My definitions that I hold are the tools with which I choose the words I speak; in so doing, they frame the message of my thought. On the other side, the words you speak, mixed with my own understood definitions, to me are the foundation by which I try and interpret your meaning. I'm not sure quality plays in here, thought the tenor, meaning and message are certainly influenced.

If we take this a step further and look into the role language influences the compartmentalization of memory it seems clear how a broader (or narrower) vocabulary might actually help free up or constrain the communicative (and yes I suppose, "thought") process. Quality though? Indirectly I suppose...

---------- Post added 10-13-2009 at 09:22 AM ----------

Zetherin;97152 wrote:
First of all, to the above posts, I don't think we're considering all of the ways technology is improving, not devolving or diminishing, the language of our youth. And not just our youth, but every one in the world. Though this sounds awefully cliche, we do have access to more information now than ever before. People can research virtually anything, and find out anything about language they desire. I'm fairly certain that without my exposure to sites like these, my vocabulary and ability to communicate would be less mature.


Surely! Access has improved a thousand-fold. But access to what? That I have the sum-total of mankind's knowledge at my fingertips doesn't mean I actually look at it. And perhaps when I do, given this boon, to what depth might I glance? I guess I'm saying: Yes, improved access is awesome - I'm all for technology - but we can't blame technology for any of these woes, not directly. We can evaluate how we've used them and the side effects of such use.

Zetherin;97152 wrote:
Khethil, I'm not sure you were even referring to technology, though. What is making you think that people, these days, are ignoring the greys, the subtleties?


Yea... as I mentioned above, we can't hang a noose around technology for our woes - it's just a tool (my hammer downstairs can built and break). I think techno only enters in this particular picture in those avenues like texting: It's more difficult/cumbersome to type with two thumbs than with ten fingers - an undeniable fact. Thus, the human animal adapts, it abbreviates. Add to this condition how often so many communicate with such abbreviation and its hard to deny that this results in a lack of breadth which which such communcation occurs. On top of this, look at the trends in how our youth communicate (increasingly with such devices than face-to-face) and the point comes clear and the question gains weight.

Again, though, I'd like to drive home two points (beat that horse!): [INDENT]1. Technology can't be blamed any more than any other tool. Only our use

2. Humans will almost always look for the best bang-for-buck when they want to do anything; this includes vocabulary, it includes communication. It's neither right nor wrong - it simply is.
[/INDENT]Thanks again
0 Replies
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 08:19 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
Because something, in some way and in some place, has been an issue before, doesn't invalidate the attention it warrants in the here and now.


No, it does not. But in order to better understand the problem, we must place it in a context as expansive as the concerns we're acknowledging. The uniqueness, I think, plays a role in defining this problem. If, for sake of argument, we assume there has always been some extent of this "spiral-down", we can at least take the advent of technology out of our main concern list. We should, I think, begin looking for common denominators, particularly in social interaction, where miscommunication occurs (really, throughout human history). Your "Violent Agreement" is an excellent example of this, and I think you're on the right track.

Also, and I want to clarify something. Initially when you first posted, it seemed as though you were arguing we were degressing as a species. I think I got this impression more from those who responded than from your actual post, but nonetheless is the impression I got. So, my intial response was with that in mind - not so much that there isn't a problem or that we shouldn't address it, but rather that this problem reaches further than our period in time. Thus, when we address it, we have to take this into consideration, lest we begin placing blame via convenience (the easiest scapegoat receives the award).

Quote:

Is this vocabulary? I can't honestly say with absolute certainty - it certainly seems so


I think it's ego and personality. Two amicable minds can reach common ground and understanding despite being poorly educated with immature dictions. People often even understand they're engaging in "Violent Agreement", but they choose to continue. This has nothing to do with the expansiveness of their vocabularies, but rather how bull-headed they choose to be. Personally, I see more miscommunication and "Violent Agreement" amongst those who are very educated and well-spoken.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 08:30 am
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;97167 wrote:
No, it does not. But in order to better understand the problem, we must place it in a context as expansive as the concerns we're acknowledging. The uniqueness, I think, plays a role in defining this problem. If, for sake of argument, we assume there has always been some extent of this "spiral-down", we can at least take the advent of technology out of our main concern list. We should, I think, begin looking for common denominators, particularly in social interaction, where miscommunication occurs (really, throughout human history).


Good, valid point. I shy away from this to an extent only because I think it a difficult task in the extreme. As we were talking in the History thread, drawing lessons is fine but only as long as one is doing so that they remember much is lost, much is unknown and any correlations we make are contingent on a hundred, thousand or million minds making decisions - minds we can't know. Yes, there is worth... but with a very large "caution" flag - as such, I don't make it a part of my argument here except as a side note that you were so kind to bring up Smile


Zetherin;97167 wrote:
Also, and I want to clarify something. Initially when you first posted, it seemed as though you were arguing we were degressing as a species. I think I got this impression more from those who responded than from your actual post, but nonetheless is the impression I got. So, my intial response was with that in mind - not so much that there isn't a problem or that we shouldn't address it, but rather that this problem reaches further than our period in time. Thus, when we address it, we have to take this into consideration, lest we begin placing blame via convenience (the easiest scapegoat receives the award).


You're probably right. Re-reading, it does sound that way (so difficult this communication medium is!). The spiral down I spoke of is intended to illustrate the dynamic created between: 1) Human's tendency to go for the least effort -and- 2) Polarization of communication through vocabulary reduction - and how they play on each other; fueling and exaggerating each others' effect.

Zetherin;97167 wrote:
I think it's ego and personality. Two amicable minds can reach common ground and understanding despite being poorly educated with immature dictions. People often even understand they're engaging in "Violent Agreement", but they choose to continue. This has nothing to do with the expansiveness of their vocabularies, but rather how bull-headed they choose to be.


Agree completely that ego and personality (as well as this bullheaded aspect) play a HUGE part; but even though it describes part of the same issue (causally) it wasn't what I was addressing. To your point's credit, I couldn't agree more.

Thanks again
0 Replies
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 09:14 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:

1) Human's tendency to go for the least effort -and- 2) Polarization of communication through vocabulary reduction - and how they play on each other; fueling and exaggerating each others' effect.


Ah, so you were addressing this problem through an expansive context. I think you may have been misunderstood, Khethil. And I'm glad we clarified what you meant here - hopefully it will help others, too!

This is a very interesting topic indeed.

I'm probably going to need to understand in more detail why you feel that vocabulary reduction can promote conflicting (this is how you're using "polarization" here, right?)communication. If humans go for the least effort, does this always hamper communication? Do we need big words to articulate big thoughts? Sometimes, I think, we may, but does this mean a summarized version won't suffice?

What about the polarization of communication through vocabulary expansion? Some people feel less is more, in terms of communication. If we articulate too many greys, could the same problem occur? We must consider our audience whenever we converse, and if we converse to an audience that doesn't understand the nuances in our language, we must understand we may be the ones making the error. A great communicator finds common ground, even if that means reducing language to a more understandable tidbit.

I fear I could still be slightly misunderstanding you. So, please, correct where I've gone astray (if I have!).
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 10:20 am
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;97179 wrote:
I'm probably going to need to understand in more detail why you feel that vocabulary reduction can promote conflicting (this is how you're using "polarization" here, right?)communication. If humans go for the least effort, does this always hamper communication? Do we need big words to articulate big thoughts? Sometimes, I think, we may, but does this mean a summarized version won't suffice?


Sometimes the simplest, most direct answer/language does the best job; no doubt. We're not talking "always"... It's a pattern, a prepondrance, maybe even a trend. This is very tough to give an example of; actually, scratch that - it's easy to give an example. But any particular part that might reflect a pattern 'on the whole' can be given disqualifiers. Let me try; this is crude, to be sure (but I hope it illustrates on aspect of where I'm going):

  • Wanna come over for a beer?
  • Would you like to come by for a visit?
  • Hey, I really need to talk. Do you feel like coming over?
  • Say, I was wondering if you wouldn't mind lending an ear; I've got a problem.
  • Say, I was wondering if you wouldn't mind lending an ear; I've got a problem. It wouldn't hurt to have some drinks together either; I've got beer
  • Say, I was wondering if you wouldn't mind lending an ear; I've got a problem. It wouldn't hurt to have some drinks together either; I'm drinking and feeling a bit talkative.
  • Yo, come hang

Which to use, in my case, would depend on a lot of factors; where that best balance is. But if my primary need is to vent with a friend in an non-threatening atmosphere of effusiveness, which fits best? If I want to communicate my particular need, which tells it best? Even more important, which in our climate is most likely to be used by those hampered by vocabulary? Not necessarily the most wordy, but certainly not the least. What I'm hoping is apparent in this crude example is to illustrate that although there's a balance, a better vocabulary (indeed, even the willingness, effort-expended to use such a vocabulary) enhances the preciseness of the message communicated.

No, this isn't an ALWAYS or NEVER proposition. But the lack of ability or vocabulary can't help but hamper ones communicative effectiveness. Translate this into our every-day communication; every day action.

Zetherin;97179 wrote:
What about the polarization of communication through vocabulary expansion? Some people feel less is more, in terms of communication. If we articulate too many greys, could the same problem occur?


I'd doubt it; how might being more descriptive with a larger war chest of descriptions increase misunderstanding and over-simplification (i.e., polarization)? Remember: To have a better vocabulary, which I'm suggesting we need, does not equate to using the most words. To suggest that this must be the case is two-dimensions. But in any case: No, if I understand you right, it wouldn't.

As far as the "less is more"; that's a catch-phrase that can be used to praise the benefits of directness as well as justify lazy-talk. Sure, it could apply, but given the cliche's over-reaching implications, I wouldn't say so.

Zetherin;97179 wrote:
We must consider our audience whenever we converse, and if we converse to an audience that doesn't understand the nuances in our language, we must understand we may be the ones making the error. A great communicator finds common ground, even if that means reducing language to a more understandable tidbit.


Surely; knowing ones' audience is as essential in communication as opening ones' mouth. That's not my point, but a good one indeed.

Hoping this helps
0 Replies
 
jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 10:34 am
@Khethil,
Isn't the problem less with the trends caused by technology than with what we value and praise? If civilisation continues to value clear, lucid, and well-phrased writing (and thinking, for the two are inseparable), then it will find ways to avoid the pitfalls of the forces that pull towards the opposite direction of lazy simplicity, vague "thinking," repetitive sloganeering, and verbal confusion.

Here it seems that the goals and aims of education become important; if it abandons these ideals as either unreachable or simply unnecessary (for whatever reasons), or if it refuses to uphold these as standards as important and of value, then the scale will be tipped towards not sweetness and light, but the grunt and the tweet.
0 Replies
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 11:02 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:

Sometimes the simplest, most direct answer/language does the best job; no doubt. We're not talking "always"... It's a pattern, a prepondrance, maybe even a trend. This is very tough to give an example of; actually, scratch that - it's easy to give an example. But any particular part that might reflect a pattern 'on the whole' can be given disqualifiers. Let me try; this is crude, to be sure (but I hope it illustrates on aspect of where I'm going):

  • Wanna come over for a beer?
  • Would you like to come by for a visit?
  • Hey, I really need to talk. Do you feel like coming over?
  • Say, I was wondering if you wouldn't mind lending an ear; I've got a problem.
  • Say, I was wondering if you wouldn't mind lending an ear; I've got a problem. It wouldn't hurt to have some drinks together either; I've got beer
  • Say, I was wondering if you wouldn't mind lending an ear; I've got a problem. It wouldn't hurt to have some drinks together either; I'm drinking and feeling a bit talkative.
  • Yo, come hang
Which to use, in my case, would depend on a lot of factors; where that best balance is. But if my primary need is to vent with a friend in an non-threatening atmosphere of effusiveness, which fits best? If I want to communicate my particular need, which tells it best? Even more important, which in our climate is most likely to be used by those hampered by vocabulary? Not necessarily the most wordy, but certainly not the least. What I'm hoping is apparent in this crude example is to illustrate that although there's a balance, a better vocabulary (indeed, even the willingness, effort-expended to use such a vocabulary) enhances the preciseness of the message communicated.

No, this isn't an ALWAYS or NEVER proposition. But the lack of ability or vocabulary can't help but hamper ones communicative effectiveness. Translate this into our every-day communication; every day action.


But this doesn't necessarily have anything to do with vocabulary, does it? We're talking syntactical construction here; the art of constructing a sentence which communicates best a particular idea. There's definitely correlation between vocabulary and syntactical prowess, but are we sure a lack of vocabulary is the actual problem here?

Quote:

To have a better vocabulary, which I'm suggesting we need, does not equate to using the most words. To suggest that this must be the case is two-dimensions


Ah, sorry, misunderstood once again. I thought that's what you meant when we said "wordy" (and it kind of stuck with me whilst typing that). Well, I can't help but completely agree - having a varied repertoire of colors with which to a paint a picture allows more expression. There's no doubt.

---------- Post added 10-13-2009 at 01:22 PM ----------

jgweed wrote:

Isn't the problem less with the trends caused by technology than with what we value and praise? If civilisation continues to value clear, lucid, and well-phrased writing (and thinking, for the two are inseparable), then it will find ways to avoid the pitfalls of the forces that pull towards the opposite direction of lazy simplicity, vague "thinking," repetitive sloganeering, and verbal confusion.


Exactly. I don't think this has anything to do with vocabularly per se. Someone could have an expansive vocabularly and just choose not to use it!
0 Replies
 
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 11:50 am
@Khethil,
There are a thousand ways we could look at this. There is no "The" problem, there is "This" issue (or that, or another). The one I've brought up has to do with vocabulary - it is one factor in the equation, no more.

And yea, of course it has to do with vocabulary; how can one use words if one doesn't know them. It is the issue that I spoke to - that's all. Again (and again, and again), there are many issues, pitfalls and potential sticking points. And for anyone to say that "This is an issue!" is not the same as professing it is the ONLY issue.

But to have any hope of expressing the nuances and complexity of our lives, our issues, desires, needs and emotions the less one has and uses the right tools (vocabulary), the more "simplified" and glossed-over towards misunderstanding one becomes.

How much a lack of vocabulary impacts our ability to express the greys in our world is the topic at hand. And this too, to what extent it is a factor, is quite open to debate.

Thanks again guys. Nice exchange
0 Replies
 
ValueRanger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 12:11 pm
@Khethil,
I've met a leading mathematician who is propagating an educational system that supports the dumb-down movement.

What's his vested interest? Is history rife with examples of the fittest surviving? Is this just a repeating cycle of the masses making way for the more sustainable? Are our greatest problem solvers justified in nurturing specie splits?
0 Replies
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 12:52 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:

Again (and again, and again), there are many issues, pitfalls and potential sticking points. And for anyone to say that "This is an issue!" is not the same as professing it is the ONLY issue.


Before responding to any of what I'm about to type, just know I do understand this. You're only bringing up one issue, it's very clear. However, I need to address other issues to better understand where vocabularly fits into the mix. Thus, if it seems as though I'm not responding directly to your points, it's not that I'm not hearing you - I am. Remember, I'm learning and experiencing just as we all are here, and I'm certainly not debating, just conversing. And I have to in my own way.

---

The extent to which vocabulary impacts our ability to express the greys doesn't seem to be any more pronounced than the extent to which other factors involved in communication impact our ability to express the greys, such as syntactical construction or body language. Many words are basic, like those used in your above crude example, and most, if not everyone, understands those words. These are words used in colloquial-speak, and vocabulary usually does not limit us here much, does it? So, when we're evaluating a basic conversation such as that, I don't think vocabularly really has much bearing on how each participent in the conversation is communicating (that is, how aptly they're expressing the greys). I am aptly able to express the greys with my friends over a few beers, despite speaking loosely and simply, and using body language. A varied vocabulary is but one 'medium' of "grey expression", at least from my experience.

Here's part of an academic essay regarding 'speaking loosely' (not directly related to what we're speaking about here). Just thought I'd add it in.

Quote:

We hardly ever mean exactly what we say. It's not that we generally speak figuratively or that we're generally insincere (these are different ways of not meaning what one says). Rather, we commonly speak loosely, by omitting words that could have made what we meant more explicit, and we let our audience fill in the gaps. Language works far more efficiently when we do that. Literalism can have its virtues, like when we're drawing up a contract or programming a computer, but we generally opt for efficiency over explicitness. In most conversation, though, spelling things out is not only unnecessary, it just slows things down.[2] It is often misleading too, insofar as it guards against something that doesn't need to be guarded against.


I think he's right, to an extent. Spelling things out all the time does slow things down and is often unncessary.


Personally,
  • Wanna come over for a beer?
suffices even if my real intentions are to speak to the person about a particular need.


I wouldn't use,
  • Say, I was wondering if you wouldn't mind lending an ear; I've got a problem. It wouldn't hurt to have some drinks together either; I'm drinking and feeling a bit talkative.
unless I was saying this in some sort of a jocular fashion. That's just not how I talk to people usually. But me not saying something like this has nothing to do with me expressing the greys of the world. I can express the greys of the world in different ways, even if I choose not to do so through vocabulary.
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Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 01:04 pm
@Khethil,
Yea, we're definitely talking passed each other.

But sure, you needn't a vast vocabulary to communicate with a good bit of success. No ones' saying that. But the lack there of (depending on degree) does have an impact.

Thanks
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