The Insufficiencies of Language

When a speaker is using a word like ‘beautiful,’ it should be followed by an explanation of what the speaker means by beautiful. In 1960, Prof. Ken Johnson found out that 500 of the most used words in the English language, the Oxford Dictionary lists 14, 070 meanings. This is before it is interpreted through the filters on a personal level. Attempting to explain ourselves and what we mean by certain words allows us to mitigate the threat of most misunderstandings, but we cannot be utopian hopefuls thinking that we will ever eliminate all misunderstandings. What we can alter though is the way people view communication.

Speaker vs Listener

Today we see:

Inneficient

In other words, the listener hears the words, and he is interpreting them according to what he thinks they mean, as explained earlier with the Swede and Dubai local.

Ideally, we would like to see this:

Better

 

In other words, it should not only be the speaker the one attempting to be understood, but the listener should seek to understand the speaker. Evidently, it takes effort from both sides for effective communication to occur. The speaker and listener must establish similar meaning or preferably have physical referents for the words. We are not taught this way in school; we are taught to debate.

Statement of Fact vs Inference

An inference is used much like the word guess or assumption. In other words, if I asked you Are there seeds in this apple? You may reply Yes! Without cutting it open and seeing if there are seeds in it. You could say I used my past experience to formulate my answer, but if I were to ask you to bet your life on it while holding a gun to your head, you might cut the apple open before you answer.

Statement of fact is cutting the apple open and looking to see if there are seeds and saying There are seeds in this apple. This is a statement made after having direct experience with the seeds. Again you might ask, why this is relevant to The Venus Project. Not understanding the difference between inference and a statement of fact tends to cause misunderstandings. A declarative statement such as The Venus Project is communism is an inference claiming to be a statement of fact, but that does not necessarily make it a fact. A father making a declarative statement such as All Turks are bad! may sound like a statement of fact that might stick depending on the amount of indoctrination exercised on his child.

“In the past, people used to say ‘You’d never be able to get to the Moon, not in a 1000 years!’; they’d look up the next day and we’re going to the Moon.” — Roxanne Meadows

How do we measure if a statement is one of fact or an inference?

Efficient Observer vs Inefficient Observer

Capture

Suppose I ask what are these things above? Normally we have four different answers:

  1. “They are designs or figures.“
  2. “Variety of shapes.”
  3. “Straight or regular figures.”
  4. Naming Individual items

The majority of people (80%) stick to numbers 1 and 2,  some (15%) on 3 and least (5%) on 4. Keeping in mind that no two events are ever the same, by using the mechanism that produces items 1,2 and 3 (abstracting) we are generalizing or rather passing judgment. Through abstracting, we tend to place groups of people into one category without considering the individual. It is very hard to think about individual differences without considering what shapes those differences. Few examples of generalization are Those corrupt Africans!, Those lazy Greeks!, Those drunken Brits!

“There are no Negro problems, Polish problems, Jewish problems, Greek problems or women problems. There are human problems!” — Jacque Fresco, 1974

Similarities and Differences

If we were unable to see the similarities in events (associate), we would, indeed, have a tough time learning anything. Math or Chemistry would be almost impossible to learn. This is what makes us different from other primates — the fact that we can continuously learn and pass on that information to others. One can argue that sometimes things we learn and pass on are not often the most relevant information. This is also the case with values and language, meaning as you grow up you identify specific objects necessary for survival, e.g. food, water, and danger. As you grow older to a mature adult and have gone through different experiences, you can place different objects and living beings into different categories, which sometimes (in the case of race or gender) ends up causing social and personal problems. With relevant education, you will be less susceptible to most of these prejudices.

It is a sign of the trained mind when one speaks of differences. Language that identifies differences is a mark of the ability to extract relevance from a situation (intelligence). A pianist can hear a piano piece, and he can identify the left from the right hand, which part of the piano is making what sound, in which key his colleague is playing, and when he changes key. He can identify if too much paddle is being pressed, or if his colleague made a mistake. An untrained ear cannot identify this easily. I remember playing a piano piece in front of 500+ people, in which 95% of them were not trained, musicians. I skipped five pages of the song which otherwise was 13 pages long. Only the 5% noticed. The observation passed to me by the 95% was that, I am a brilliant piano player. Needless to say, the musicians didn’t feel the same.

Our language is filled with opinions by only noticing the similarities. While noticing the similarities is useful in everyday life, but it should be combined with the differences to result in a more relevant action pattern. It is easier to speak in general terms, neglecting the differences. This, unfortunately, results in impulsive or hasty behavior because it takes to much work to see the differences. Be aware of this the next time you use the verb ‘to be.’ Stop and Think!

“He/she is …”

You might want to ask yourself Am I about to show that I have only noticed the similarities?

Identification

Go to your kitchen and find an apple. Hold it in your hand and imagine I gave this to you. If I ask you What did I just give you? you might reply An apple to which I’ll say No, I didn’t give you the words ‘Apple,’ what I gave you was… I pause, and I point at the fruit we have come to call ‘apple’ which is in your hand. These words point to the apple, they are not the apple, much like I cannot drink the word ‘water’. In other words, there are two ways of answering a question: a verbal way and a nonverbal way. You can show me the apple in your hand as if to say This is what you gave me, or you can ‘give’ me a bunch of words.

A child growing up eventually discovers that things in existence have words pinned to them. We learn to place so much emphasis on the words that they can give us different emotional reactions. Holding a dinner for your friends and offering a tasty meal might get them to praise your cooking skills until you reveal to them that it was snake meat they ate. Some might even return an excess of the consumed amount. They were able to eat it, digest it and even enjoy it, and one might wonder Why the unpleasant reaction? The words that have negative associations in the brain may give you an unpleasant feeling. Values today partly seem to be formed around the verbal rather than the nonverbal.

Love is a bullshit word!” — Jacque Fresco

The term ‘love’ means more to people than what the nonverbal could signify. That goes for words like ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, ‘human nature’, and ‘free will’. Claiming that you ‘love’ The Venus Project means you are ready to learn and apply the teachings to yourself in order to achieve a different way of life — organizing the nonverbal as to extend as much ‘love’ (extensionality) to people and nature as possible.

To make an accurate map it takes a lot of hard work. In order to make the map reflect the territory, it takes analysis, observation under a certain amount of guidance and a lot of technical work to achieve this level of accuracy. If I had to ask you to describe the apple that I handed you, you might proceed to tell me the shape and the color, and maybe some may go as far as attempting to describe the taste. The thing to ask yourself is, Is this the Apple? It takes a lot of work to create an accurate ‘map’ of what ‘the’ apple is. When we are working in the realm of the verbal and nonverbal observations, exaggerations, misinformation, and misunderstandings are inevitable.

Saying I love The Venus Project is not going far enough. Guided education, as provided for now by the mentor program, is key for one to be able to describe what The Venus Project is. Some may say, I don’t have the time or it’s too much work or even that it’s unnecessary. As the map takes a lot of guided observations and a lot of technical work, the same stands for The Venus Project. If you feel ‘to be’ well informed on your own, remember what I said about the efficient observer vs inefficient observer.

In our everyday speech, it is very easy to distort or misrepresent something. Suppose I asked you What do you think about democracy? No matter what answer I get, It’s good! Or It’s bad!, I would have to ask you Is it bad now while you are reading this post? Is it good when the leader does something you don’t like, but you still could speak openly about it in your local coffee shop with your friends? Is it bad when you are walking your dog? When is it bad? And when is it good?

In certain absolute monarchies, I know that there is no tolerance to public display of affection. I know there is no tolerance to a woman having intercourse with a man before their marriage. These things are not things that threaten people in a ‘democratic’ country. There are atheists on television making very insulting statements to theists, and these happen in open forums without fear of apprehension. When you say, It’s bad! It implies ‘always.’ You have to adopt a language which points out the details, as far as you can see those differences. In order to make an accurate map you have to ask When is it bad? What do you mean by bad? We seem to be imprisoned in statements that might be said about The Venus Project and in general everyday conversation without attempting to learn the ‘when.’

So, if you say to yourself, or when you hear someone making a statement as if it was a statement of fact, ask When?  I am a failure. Ask When were you a failure? Keep going along those lines and you might have an interesting conclusion. The one that General Semantics has arrived at is that people’s verbal picture of themselves does not reflect the nonverbal, and this might cause disappointment. Imprisoned in the phrase, I am a failure. But I might have been a failure only in certain aspects of my life between 2010 and 2012, and so much exaggeration was placed in that statement (failure) that it has caused me to generalize my whole life. The same can be said about people who might say they are ugly. Ugly to whom? What is ugly and who decides what is ugly and what is beautiful? These are nontechnical terms, and we have to bear in mind that:

“If everyone had a nose a foot long, you would have surgery done to fit in with your culture.” — Jacque Fresco

19 Comments

  1. I’d love to see sign language taught to all toddlers. That way we could have a truly universal language. No need to learn a second language as we all would have one. Plus it would limit the hurdles that deaf people face.

    • Except all countries have their own unique sign language, so it wouldn’t necessarily bring us any closer than we are now. To do that you would have to agree on a common language for all, or invent a new one, which is exactly the same as if you were teaching all children to speak the same verbal language.

    • I think we have to go beyond just the language thing.. everyone will continue to speak its own language.., but surely need to use our hability to speak beyond language..

  2. i see in our future a way to connect the picture we can easily create in our mind to a screen , and a picture can speak 1k words . i think that conection its necesary , if we may learn to have telepatic imagination would be great…

    but in any case, any language we learn it might be good if its learned in the way its embeded into the subconcious mind . i learn english by watching tv and doing internet stuff , i’m not sure this is the way to realy connect the words to subconcious mind .

  3. … And what about graffitis? Are they going to be part of the new world. The first kind of expression in Lascaux’s cave in the paleolithic times was primarily essentiel as we could get a sense of proper historical traces. Bones, hand made tools… archeological studies can always find new stuffs but still if all disappear on earth should we use some laser graff in the universe in order to send message for our spatial explorers?
    So many interpretations could be done for words but for man like for dogs the best thing he can do is just pee on walls to say it’s his property; “it’s where I lived It’s where I was”.

  4. It still amazes me how languages were formed and re-formed. I don’t particularly like it when slang takes over however and thus destroys the origin of a respectful language. icariin 98%

  5. Hi, i completely agree with this opinion about language.
    I am a speach and language therapist, i work with children, many of them affected by sensorial disease. I can see evryday the importance of using alternative channels to reach a good level of communication with ourselves first and with other.
    Emotional communication is more significative than every word of every codified language.
    ‘Cause emotional intention is related to the autobiografic facts of every person’s life related with his community. I think emotional communication is similar in every culture. So i consider communication as relation : the expression of our humanity as the first choice in relastionship, coperation and co-creation of better way of living for all the people.
    I believe every one wishes get well and peacefully and getting good vibes with himself and the world outside. If we have good thinking about us we can change the world.
    (Sorry for my english)
    Thankyou

    Pam

  6. There ARE NO BAD WORDS. slang IS language, In no way is it differemt from the original. Simply different. If We hang up on small irrelivent details We comlletely miss the point, and stiffle growth.

  7. Also, Esperanto IS a great politically hidden asset of humankind. Since it is wrongly interpreted as an intent to destroy nationalism, then it is put aside by politicians. Sometimes you need to convey spoken words, since you can not see the other person for sign language. English is NOT the most perfect means to do it. Esperanto is way SUPERIOR to English (and any other “naturally” devloped language) in arguably about 25 very importante issues.

  8. With the technological advances we have today it is very conceivable to have personal translators that we just carry with us or wear on our persons. All languages would be imported into a world database (regardless of region) and people could hear their own language being spoke to them regardless of the language being spoken. Translators and voice recognition has exponentially grown in the last 20 years. Imagine the advancement in the next 20 years.

    This would actually only require people to learn “a language”… Not any particular language. Once the database was implemented new words would just be added as necessary and people could adjust their translators according to their needs and region visited. (This was actually done on Star Trek 30 years ago… Haha)

  9. Interesting discussion, but not surprising for Jaque as he has such a young and pliable mind. Great observations on his part and many of his concerns about the shortcomings of language have been echoed by Chomsky and others. I spend a lot of spare time working with peers to develop meta languages and meta models to support common patterns in business domains, across supply chains, value chains, and amongst stakeholders who wish to map their scenarios to better understand causality and predict future outcomes, risks, and opportunities.

    One of the ways we have begun to address the gaps in communications is to introduce contextual relevance with terms as Jaque rightly pointed out: any term can be interpreted in numerous ways based on a variety of filters. The challenge is identifying the right context for a given situation in order to ensure consistency of perspective from the “speaker” to the “listener”.

  10. Hello,
    I appreciate your concern and was delighted to read the entire piece of content. The language has evolved over time and various technological advancement have resulted in reducing the language barrier which are yet to be demolished. My concern is not with the vocal language itself but the understanding in different fields. Great cities are not possible if the stake holders do not work together and to make this happen every one needs to be share a common goal. This can be communicated but the difficulty which arise due to different understanding among professionals might prevent in fulfilling this goal and results in inefficiencies. How to reduce this gap? Another issue remains with urban planning being a very less know profession as highlighted on
    http://planningtank.com/blog/urban-planning-largely-unknown-profession

    Can awareness about urban planning help in reducing this gap and inefficiencies, what do you think?

  11. Pingback: Ťažkopádnosť jazyka - DAV DVA - kultúrno-politický magazín

  12. Its interesting to know and understand how cities grew. Urban areas and the field is now getting more and more attention. The importance has now been realized also the related fields like geography, civil engineering also playing important role in building cities. Your article really helped. Probably a short video will also add to the usefulness of this information. A similar article with apt information on Concentric Zone Model and Central Place Theory valuable facts and information. Details on other such topics like Sector theory, multiple nuclei theory will add to the quality of content.

  13. Interesting to discover and read this article about the language barrier. I was just having a conversation last night with someone about this subject. I have had numerous epiphanies about different words and their convoluted ness. Such as the word believe. I’ve known for over 20 years it had a connotation of doubt. It came to me one day out of the blue to break it down into syllables. Be lie ve. I found it quite interesting what the middle syllable spells. I started looking at other words and how their definition didn’t line up. Take the word insane. It’s definition is a crazy or bizarre act or thought but, the two words forming the one imply something acceptable. (In Sane) Should it not be unsane . There are many others. Have words been rearranged and meanings changed through the ages to dumb down communication. It may be.

  14. If I remember correctly, the time frame of written language, mathematics, agriculture and cities sprang up 10 to 12 thousand years ago and within a few hundred years. This is based on archeological evidence clearly in plain sight but, denied by the political mainstream scientist’s and media. Megolithic cities around the globe that we are fed to be-lie-ve were built by slaves with hammers and chisels, towing 100 ton blocks into place. There are quarries many miles away that have abandoned stone blocks partially cut that cracked or broke during the process that have clearly undeniable saw marks. We cannot duplicate today what was performed then. We have devolved, not evolved. In particular the language. Take the word believe. It has a canotation of doubt. If you do not know something then you do not know. Whatever you believe is mere supposition, speculation or opinion. What is the middle syllable spell? Is this by design? There are numerous words I’ve noticed to be ambiguous and convoluted. Another, insane. It seems to depict normalcy. Should the word not be, unsane?

  15. Pingback: Las Insuficiencias del Lenguaje | Voluntarios del Proyecto Venus

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