Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Expressions And Meanings - Part 4: Conclusion

We have already disqualified some of the interpretations about what Timmy [of part 1] is saying. Since we established what cannot be said about Timmy's beliefs from an observer's POV, the question is: What can an observer say?

One suggested answer would be this: "Timmy says: '666 is a prime number', which is a false statement when interpreted in English language." - Notice that when we qualify a sentence with a language we can judge its truthfulness and falseness, but without a reference language this judgment is impossible. Thats because language is relativistic. And as previously discussed, a relativistic value is inseparable from its reference.

Since -in most cases- the meaning is the goal, rather than the expression, it is important to express ideas in pre-specified reference language. In short, without language interpreting an expression becomes impossible. For example, if you are reading this article without assuming that it is written in English language, understanding it becomes impossible.

Since defining language is important, there need to be certain references that explain the terminology of language. These references cannot be formalized, because of the relativistic nature of language. But since conventions need to be established to pave the path for communication, such conventions are established. The most commonly agreed references that define languages are usually called "Dictionaries". Dictionaries are references that are established to define lingual terminology.

While terminology can be redefined in sub-cultures [that is a group of people can agree that certain terms mean something different that the conventional terminology], this practice hinders mainstream understanding of the language. In fact, this practice can be viewed as a form of encryption where the parties that have knowledge of the encryption scheme can decrypt the message.

For this reason, any communicator needs to establish a reference language for the expressions. For example, it is a good practice for a blogger who wishes for his articles to be understood worldwide to write in a language that is known worldwide and to conform to the conventions proposed for it by the dictionaries that are established for that language. Another example is standards-compliance of the internet or documents, as proprietary formats can lead to problems like vendor lock-in or vendor lock-out.

In this series:
Expressions And Meanings - Part 1: Introduction
Expressions And Meanings - Part 2: Elaboration
Expressions And Meanings - Part 3: Linguistic Relativism
Expressions And Meanings - Part 4: Conclusion

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