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Does an ‘individual’ word have meaning…?

 
 
igm
 
Reply Tue 5 Feb, 2013 03:26 pm
Every language started primordially (the language equivalent of the' big bang') with a sound (the first word), then different sounds stood for the 'parts of speech' that would come to describe that first word. Along with other symbols, signs and gestures, they all became interdependent but at the start was the first word just a meaningless sound?

If so...

If that word was meaningless in its primordial isolation, then is it the same for all words even now, when they are isolated from the signs, symbols, words and gestures that describe them?

Do words (these smallest packets of meaning) only exist because of their 'interdependence' upon one another and not at all when they are independent and isolated from the other words etc. that describe them?

What does this say (if correct) about the concepts that rely on these words if each word in isolation is meaningless?


Can concepts ever deliver anything more than conventional truth?

Thoughts please?
 
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Feb, 2013 03:36 pm
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0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Feb, 2013 03:42 pm
@igm,
Yeah, Andy...me too.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Feb, 2013 03:43 pm
@Frank Apisa,
I might come back, too, and change the question to suit myself.
0 Replies
 
MattDavis
 
  2  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 02:22 am
@igm,
I am having a little trouble parsing the question, but these are some of my thoughts on it:
I worry that you are implying that primordial language is a human language. The beginnings of language are with the beginnings of communication which began much much earlier than any humans or proto-humans.
The smallest packet of meaning is not the "word", it is a "distinction". Signal that can be distinguished from background noise (in the sense of random or pseudo-random, not necessarily auditory noise). A signal from one entity to another is "meaningful" because it provides information to the recipient thus influencing behavior.
A mother (human, heffer, hawk, etc.) hears a cry that she is able to distinguish from background noise. This conveys distress on the part of infant, to which the mother is likely to alter her behavior in response.
Signals are not necessarily interdependent with other signals. They are dependent only on their utility in representing information or in other words how reliably they represent a certain type of situation (the cry could be a trick by a predator).
Human languages very quickly exhibit an interdependence of signals because of how reliant they become on metaphorical thinking.
A baby saying "ma ma" does not mean "mother". For a baby "ma ma" is a one to one representation of one specific women (its mother). For an adult "mother" is an abstraction based on relationships.

What do you mean by "conventional truth"?
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 02:36 am
@MattDavis,
I think we're all having problems with the question. My impulse just from the title was something involving words taken without context. Some words and lexical chunks seem to have acquired some truely inspired meanings, and not always related to the word's normal meaning.

I'm not sure your non random signals come together to make works. I can see the argument, but barking dogs are not talking dogs. I leave that to the philosophically inclined.

Anyway, welcome even if someone already said so.
imans
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 03:30 am
here u show how u cant but create issues by existing urself

for u there cant b but one value in reference to ur existence value that of course cant b but one u

u dont have the level and skills standard to exist in truth

objective superiority is a reason to more and else superiority freedom, not the opposite

u belong to the kind that in seeing smthg superior u would wish to possess it for ages not doing anything but just living

but this has nothing to do with truth nor with else or existence rights objective facts and realities freedom

so my bottom reply to ur retarded question, is that a sentence has a value only and exclusively bc the words are true as they point different whole objective things
that is why the more the language is objective the more sentences are meaning smthg real for the individual realizin it

this is the point also of philosophy being an existential individual way to mean anything by using the proper reasons of each word





igm
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 08:26 am
@MattDavis,
MattDavis wrote:

What do you mean by "conventional truth"?

When I was on this site I noticed a passage that might explain what I was referring to... to some extent:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disquotationalism

Redundancy theory of truth

Redundant theorists infer from this premise that truth is a redundant concept, in other words, that "truth" is a mere word that is conventional’ to use in certain contexts of discourse but not a word that points to anything in reality.

Does this help or is the context still causing problems for you?


I'm still digesting the rest of your reply...
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 04:46 pm
@roger,
Thank you for your welcome to the forums. :^)

If you'll permit me to provide a hypothetical example of how a primitive language may develop:
Imagine a group of proto-wolves. In preparation of biting someone, these wolves pull up their lips so as to protect the lips from injury during the attack. If one or more wolves notice this action (are able to distinguish it from other behaviors) they may use this information to behave more effectively (prepare for attack). Noticing this signal has gained survival benefit. As the baring lips signal becomes more commonly recognized, some individuals may even use it when they have not necessarily decided to bite. A stronger proto-wolf could use baring lips as a warning to a weaker member and may be able to intimidate the weaker away without having to subject itself to an actual and potentially injurious fight. A weaker member may also use baring lips to communicate that he/she will not back down without a fight and perhaps call the bluff of the stronger. Lip baring has begun its change from a behavioral precursor to a gesture.
A dialogue has begun.
Quote:
I'm not sure your non random signals come together to make words. (I think this is what you intended works=words)

The signals are not random especially not as the roots of a language are forming.
Quote:
I can see the argument, but barking dogs are not talking dogs.

I do think that dogs possess some language. In fact they are rather unique in that they have specialized by creating a dialogue with another species. Barks, growls, tail wagging, whining, pouting, lip baring are all used in communication with other dogs and with humans.
Of course canine language is rudimentary in comparison to human language, but I do think that if you intend to discus the origins of what becomes language you need to look much earlier than the first humans. There is much neurological and genetic evidence that we are "hard-wired" for language.
0 Replies
 
MattDavis
 
  2  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 05:01 pm
@imans,
Your comment is difficult to understand.
I don't see the connection to the stated question.
Quote:
so my bottom reply to ur retarded question,

is insulting and inappropriate.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 05:14 pm
@igm,
Of course an individual word has meaning.

It is easy to imagine a language with one word which would be equivalent to the word "danger". It is easy to imagine an individual who only knows this language.
0 Replies
 
Lustig Andrei
 
  2  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 05:21 pm
@MattDavis,
MattDavis wrote:

Your comment is difficult to understand.
I don't see the connection to the stated question.
Quote:
so my bottom reply to ur retarded question,

is insulting and inappropriate.


imans is a poster who is always, without exception, insulting and inappropriate. It's best to simply ignore him. I have him on 'ignore', which means I don't see his posts on my computer unless someone quotes him. He's the trolliest of the trolls on this site.
MattDavis
 
  2  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 06:03 pm
@igm,
igm wrote:
Along with other symbols, signs and gestures, they all became interdependent but at the start was the first word just a meaningless sound?

No I don't believe at the start that the word or gesture was meaningless (please see my proto-wolf hypothetical above).

igm wrote:
Do words (these smallest packets of meaning) only exist because of their 'interdependence' upon one another and not at all when they are independent and isolated from the other words etc. that describe them?

Most words in human language are dependent on the meanings of other words, but this does not imply that all words or that the origins of words were unconnected to reality.

I would like to expand on my proto-wolf hypothesis to include an example of how multiple signals can be used to create new meanings.
[As a disclaimer, the proto-wolf hypothesis is being used not because it necessarily has historical accuracy, but merely to establish the plausibility of such a scenario.]
Assume that lip baring has become established in the "lexicon" of a population. Assume also that making noise has also been established as a way of drawing attention to one's self (by barking, howling, or yelping, etc.). There may be times when it is expedient to convey both the lip barring signal and the pay attention to me signal simultaneously. It may be useful for a strong member to intimidate a weaker member and have that intimidation witnessed by the rest of the group (a warning to others, a show of dominance). A weaker member may wish to signal to an attacker that it will not back down, while signalling to allies that it wants their attention (enlist aid in a pending attack). It is not physically possible to keep lips bared and bark or howl, but if you force air through your throat in the same way while keeping your teeth bared, you growl. At first growl "means" lip baring + pay attention to me, but as that meaning gains recognition it gains utility in other ways. In the dark lip baring is difficult to recognize, but since growl means lip baring + pay attention to me, growl implies lip baring and may be used as a synonym to it.
Growl may also begin to mean that I am hostile and am justifiably hostile, since it attempts to broadcast that hostility to other members. A justifiable hostility is less likely to be a bluff since it is less private (raises the stakes), thus growl may be a stronger or more emphatic way of saying lip baring.
0 Replies
 
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 06:06 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
Thanks for sharing your experience.
I will postpone ignoring him until he has demonstrated to me that he has no intention of becoming more civil.
I'll give him a chance. :^)
MattDavis
 
  2  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 06:21 pm
@igm,
igm wrote:
Redundant theorists infer from this premise that truth is a redundant concept, in other words, that "truth" is a mere word that is ‘conventional’ to use in certain contexts of discourse but not a word that points to anything in reality.


Yes the disquotational theory of truth does demonstrate that truth is a redundant concept.
Basically this stems from the observation that sentences such as [It is true that it is raining outside.] adds no additional meaning to the sentence [It is raining outside.].
What the theory demonstrates however is not that words don't point to anything in reality. It demonstrates that words only point to things in reality. A proposition may be taken as being true (for instance by how well it matches with experience), but it is not proper to discuss "truth" as disembodied from a proposition. Truth must be grounded in something.
JLNobody
 
  2  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 11:02 pm
@MattDavis,
I agree. I like to think--and have said so many times here--that truth pertains to a quality of a proposition about Reality. But "The Truth" has little meaning for me whereas Reality has much meaning.
JLNobody
 
  2  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 11:05 pm
I suppose that single words, like onomatopaic (sp?) words, can be very expressive. But language in general refers to words in sentences, in paragraphs, etc..
0 Replies
 
MattDavis
 
  2  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 11:26 pm
@JLNobody,
Language has proven itself so extremely useful to humanity that it is easy to lose sight of its proper grounding in reality. Language provides a framework in which it is possible to hypothesize. Which can be very very useful, but it can be easy to lose sight of what is fantastical if care is not taken to reorient the labels used to events in reality.
0 Replies
 
Razzleg
 
  2  
Reply Thu 7 Feb, 2013 12:20 am
@igm,
igm wrote:

Every language started primordially (the language equivalent of the' big bang') with a sound (the first word), then different sounds stood for the 'parts of speech' that would come to describe that first word. Along with other symbols, signs and gestures, they all became interdependent but at the start was the first word just a meaningless sound?

If so...

If that word was meaningless in its primordial isolation, then is it the same for all words even now, when they are isolated from the signs, symbols, words and gestures that describe them?

Do words (these smallest packets of meaning) only exist because of their 'interdependence' upon one another and not at all when they are independent and isolated from the other words etc. that describe them?

What does this say (if correct) about the concepts that rely on these words if each word in isolation is meaningless?


Can concepts ever deliver anything more than conventional truth?

Thoughts please?


A lot of good points regarding your OP have already been made by previous posters, but i thought i'd throw in my two cents anyway.

It may seem a strange thing to say, but i think it unlikely that "language" did start primordially. i mean, it may be an undiscovervable fact, that one gesture preceded all others as a meaningful unit, but (and it may be a nit-picky point) to qualify as a language, communication requires a plurality of signs and social inferences. If nothing else, to qualify as a language-making event the response to one word would require a variable response. The primordial equivalent to "i'm gonna cut you, sucka!" would at register two possible, different visible/audible responses.

...Man, i've re-written my point beyond the former statement several times, and each time i've tried to boil my point down a little more. Here's my last attempt: "Language" only exists, insofar as languages exist, languages only exist insofar as dialects and idioms exist, dialects and idioms only exist insofar as dialogues exist, dialogues only exist insofar as communication is possible. Maybe communicability, which underlies all language but is not responsible for all of the possibilities within it, also relies, in part, on the experientially and ontologically more involved medium of translatability.

Words do not only co-exist on the basis of their own existential strata, but on the basis of alternate or unavailable versions of their own (ontological) combinations, and yet, they only become affective as a isolated, gestural parody of their potential. They exist only insofar as they undermine themselves.

MattDavis wrote:

Yes the disquotational theory of truth does demonstrate that truth is a redundant concept.


While i agree with some of your other points in this thread, i remain skeptical as to this question of the redundancy of a "truth statement". "Truth statements" do not only refer to themselves, they specifically refer to the wider contexts in which they have been made. "Truth" must be "verified" by a socially anchored method and in a socially recognized environment.

No "truth value" contains within itself the statement claiming to be the fact, except insofar as it it also attaches itself to the method and context of verification. "Truths" never contain a "why" or a "what", but by a "how".

Sheesh..what a lot of bullshit. Still, a guy's got to go to bed sometime.

NB: i agree, Imans is pretty useless on this forum, but feel free to form your own opinion.
roger
 
  2  
Reply Thu 7 Feb, 2013 12:30 am
@MattDavis,
MattDavis wrote:

Thanks for sharing your experience.
I will postpone ignoring him until he has demonstrated to me that he has no intention of becoming more civil.
I'll give him a chance. :^)


Sure. That's what all the rest of us did before putting him on ignore.

Oh, good! I was hoping the right people would show up and give me something worth following and reading.
0 Replies
 
 

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