Four Articles on Metalinguistics

Foreign Service Institute, Department of State, 1950 - 45 páginas

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Página 5 - We cut nature up, organize it into concepts, and ascribe significances as we do, largely because we are parties to an agreement to organize it in this way — an agreement that holds throughout our speech community and is codified in the patterns of our language.
Página 27 - The fact of the matter is that the "real world" is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group.
Página 19 - We cut up and organize the spread and flow of events as we do, largely because, through our mother tongue, we are parties to an agreement to do so, not because nature itself is segmented in exactly that way for all to see.
Página 5 - ... merely a reproducing instrument for voicing ideas but rather is itself the shaper of ideas, the program and guide for the individual's mental activity, for his analysis of impressions, for his synthesis of his mental stock in trade. Formulation of ideas is not an independent process, strictly rational in the old sense, but is part of a particular grammar, and differs, from slightly to greatly, between different grammars. We dissect nature along lines laid down by our native languages.
Página 6 - This class seems to us too large and inclusive, but so would our class "snow'' to an Eskimo. We have the same word for falling snow, snow on the ground, snow packed hard like ice, slushy snow, winddriven flying snow whatever the situation may be. To an Eskimo, this all-inclusive word would be almost unthinkable; he would say that falling snow, slushy snow, and so on, are sensuously and operationally different, different things to contend with; he uses different words for them and for other kinds...
Página 25 - empty' is used in two linguistic patterns: (1) as a virtual synonym for 'null and void, negative, inert,' (2) applied in analysis of physical situations without regard to, eg, vapor, liquid vestiges, or stray rubbish, in the container. The situation is named in one pattern (2 ) and the name is then "acted out...
Página 5 - This fact is very significant for modern science, for it means that no individual is free to describe nature with absolute impartiality but is constrained to certain modes of interpretation even while he thinks himself most free.
Página 19 - thinking is a matter of language" is an incorrect generalization of the more nearly correct idea that r- "thinking is a matter of different tongues." The different ' tongues are the real phenomena and may generalize down not to any such universal as " Language, " but to something better — called "sublinguistic" or "superlinguistic" — and not altogether unlike, even -if much unlike, what we now call "mental.
Página 20 - Our Indian languages show that with a suitable grammar we may have intelligent sentences that cannot be broken into subjects and predicates. Any attempted breakup is a breakup of some English translation or paraphrase of the sentence, not of the Indian sentence itself. We might as well try to decompose a certain synthetic resin into Celluloid and whiting because the resin can be imitated with Celluloid and whiting.
Página 21 - I believe that those who envision a future world speaking only one tongue, whether English, German, Russian, or any other, hold a misguided ideal and would do the evolution of the human mind the greatest disservice. Western culture has made, through language, a provisional analysis of reality and, without correctives, holds resolutely to that analysis as final. The only correctives lie in all those other tongues which by aeons of independent evolution have arrived at different, but equally logical,...

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