Language and thoughts

Walter Wlodarski (
Mon, 11 Nov 1996 13:24:06 -0500 (EST)

On Monday, 11 Nov 1996 Stephen de Vries <> wrote:

>The connection between language and thinking is a lot stronger than
>most people suspect.

I approve. In every day activities, I think in French, but, when I work
with computers, I use English as a language of thoughts. I can't do it
the other way around.

>What worries (and inspires) me
>the most about language is that it's
>basic nature hasn't changed in thousands
>of years, we still link idea
>packages (words) to each other in a
>linear fashion.

Languages, like French, English, etc., haven't changed subtantialy
in the last century althought our vision of the world changed very
much. Those languages don't correspond anymore to our contempory

>After all language is our
>primary popular method for
>abstracting reality (ignoring
>for a moment specialist
>languages like maths).

[Abstract: remove from, separate]

The primary abstration of reality is made when we perceive the outside
world. We see, smell, hear, feel, etc. only a sample of what is out there.
Then we arrange the perceived world in a collection of objects, give
meaning and relationship to those objects. And, only then, we translate
it to a language.

>Another huge leap in improving
>communication will happen when
>we start using VR technology as a
>comm. tool by writing in 3D.

I'm not so sure of that. A researcher at Palo Alto's research center
told to Wired Magazine:

"In its ultimate environment, VR causes the
computer to become effectively invisible by taking over the human
sensory and affector systems. VR is extremely useful in scientific
visualization and entertainment, and will be very significant for
those niches. But as a tool for productively changing everyone's
relationship to computation, it has two crucial flaws. First, at the
present time [1992], and probably for decades, it cannot produce a
simulation of significant verisimilitude at reasonable cost. That
means that users will not be fooled and the computer will not be out
of the way. Second, and most importantly, it has the goal of fooling
the user - of leaving the everyday physical world behind. This is at
odds with the goal of better integrating the computer into human
activities, since humans are of and in the everyday world."

[WIRED 2.02: "PARC Is Back!" by Howard Rheingold]

>As more of our communication moves
>to the electronic platform,
>written speech will become less
>important, less productive and more
>of a subset of communication
>than it's very backbone.

When telephone was invented, many predicted that mail would disapear.
It didn't.

When radio was invented, many predicted that newspapers and books would
disapear. It didn't.

Now that numerical communication appears, you predict that written
communication will fade away. I'm septic.

I never wrote so much since I use a computer!

>Parallel-non linear languages
>will free
>our minds from a thousands year old
>thinking paradigm, making
>thinking and communicating
>a much more liquid experience

It seems to me that communication tend to be more a serial process than
thinking (or thinking more parallel than communicating). Ideally, we should have
specific languages for communicating and different ones for thinking.

VValter        ,,,,,
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