Monday, February 26, 2007

Language Acquisition - Part 4: Ambiguities

Lingual ambiguities have lead to numerous paradoxes; One of the more famous of these paradox is the Heap paradox that states: When one considers a heap of sand, from which grains are individually removed. Is it still a "heap" when only one grain remains?

A similar paradox arises if we ask this question: Imagine a tall man - say, 2.5 meters. If we take a millimeter of his height he'd still be a tall man; If we take another millimeter, he'd also still be tall... If we continue the process of taking one millimeter at a time, after which millimeter the man becomes no longer tall?!

The above two paradoxes emphasize the inconsistency of vague (unquantified) terms in our everyday language, such as "big", "a lot", "tall", "short", "medium" ...etc. We have generally accepted ranges of say, how tall is tall, but a lot of complexities still arise.

Other ambiguities also arise from incompatible definitions. For example, is Atheism a religion or anti-religion?! Does an atheist have a religion or lack one?! People can give different interpretations to the word religion. Personally, I would argue that Atheism is in fact a religion, consider:
According to Babylon: Religion: collection of beliefs concerning the origin of man and the universe.
According to Religion: a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects.

Following the above definitions we can say that Atheism is a collection of (non-theistic) beliefs, and thus is a religion. Some might disagree.

Can we resolve all lingually ambiguous representations?! My personal conviction is: NOT REALLY!! - The reason for this conviction follows in Part 5.

In this series:
Language Acquisition - Part 1: General Discussion
Language Acquisition - Part 2: The Influence Of Physiological Formation
Language Acquisition - Part 3: Deep Structure Hypothesis
Language Acquisition - Part 4: Ambiguities
Language Acquisition - Part 5: The Problem Of Representation
Language Acquisition - Part 6: Linguistic Determinism Hypothesis
Language Acquisition - Part 7: Possible Applications For The Investigation


The Observer said...

You got me excited! I am looking forward for number 5. Actually I find this one very interesting as well :)

Devil's Mind said...

This "Language Acquisition" series is turning out to be better than I initially thought it would be. :) I hope the whole series is going to be interesting.

No_Angel said...

Late as usual plus been a while, and I didn't have the time so am catching up.
First & second paradox (i haven't read the link or looked into it) I have one objection, trying to do an empirical test on a common sense word is not ..... whats the word LOGICAL !

As for Atheism being a religion, one main thing about religions is that they have prophets ! So yeah its an ideology in my opinion.
Nietzsche is rolling in his grave :D

Devil's Mind said...

"one main thing about religions is that they have prophets!" - Apparently not! At least both Babylon and dictionaries don't even mention prophets in their definition of religions. You can have your own definitions, but thats another story.