What are words? And language? Do they firmly represent tangible objects and abstract ideas? When we say apple, is that apple instantly made real? The same is true for a picture, especially this one below.
This is not a pipe.
This is a picture of a pipe, but does that make it a pipe? Language represents our idea of a thing or idea, but that does not make language a finite lingual representation of an object or idea. We’ve been learning some interesting language concepts or non-language concepts. Reading from my textbook Texts and Concepts: Writing about Literature with Critical Theory (6th Edition) by Steven Lynn has been very interesting this semester. I have learned so many new perspectives from which to view literature of all types. Now we have moved into deconstruction of literature, which focuses on the dividing and breaking down of literature into its structural parts. It also focuses on seeking out contradictions of the visible point being made by the work. It could get quite complex and seems to go on for an infinite amount of time.
Back to language and its non-meaning. If language does not represent our objects and ideas then what does? Well, the object itself I suppose. Language is one tool that we use to work with objects and ideas, but it is not fixed or naturally occurring.
Language as a Tool
Another note about language, how many languages are there throughout the world? Including those languages labeled as “dead”? An example used in my textbook is the word fog. In your native language you may have one word for fog, but another language has eleven words for fog. Does that make either language or set of words wrong? No. Each language is a tool, and one culture may have multiple meanings for a term that another culture has only one word for. This concept is similar for many “tools.” One person might use a framing hammer to drive a nail, and another may only have a standard claw hammer around for the very same job. Using a different took does not make one person wrong and another right. Rather, it demonstrates the versatile and individual nature of the human experience.
Language specific tools vary widely even within one single language. We could contrast education level, geographical location, cultural heritage, and many other background schema when doing this analysis, but this fact holds true: even though we each use different tools to get the “job” done, none of us are wrong or right. Effectiveness and timeliness would be another discussion of this individuality.
I find all of this very fascinating, and this is a new perspective that we can all use to view language and any other sort of “tool” and “job.”
Hope you’ve learned just a fraction of what I have from this post. As always, thanks for reading. Stay curious.