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Copy of TOK: Language Project

Constanza Gonzalez, Giuseppe Ramirez, Stephanie Smith
by

Stephanie Jimenez

on 24 March 2014

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Transcript of Copy of TOK: Language Project

TOK
Language Project




Conclusion

Nature of Language
Nature of Language
Nature of Language
Constanza Gonzalez
Giuseppe Ramirez
Stephanie Smith
Is it possible to think without language? How does language extend, direct, or even limit thinking?
To what extent does language generalize individual experience, classifying it within the experience of the group? To what extent does a personal experience elude expression in language?
Whether language or the ability to think comes first has been debated:
Language Acquisition vs. Linguistic Determinism
Chomsky's language acquisition theory argues that one is not born with a "blank slate," but is born with the biological abilities to recognize "universal grammar" and eventually form language.
The concept of Double Think ("1984") relates to language acquisition in that, for example, the terms "war" and "peace" are universally understood, as are their antonymy; therefore, the paradox "War is Peace" is also universally understood.

Sapir-Whorf (Linguistic Determinism) argues that one's thought process - namely, one's ability to create and understand abstract concepts - is directly dependent upon one's exposure to language.

The language of New Speak ("1984") is an example of this linguistic determinism in that an attempt to control a person's mind is made via controlling his/her language; the idea is to reduce not only the words used, but consequentially the meaning and depth of entire concepts, in order to create a society that is more vulnerable and easily manipulated. ("Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious"; also a paradox.)

Extend:
broader sense of understanding
larger vocabulary available to those who speak or are exposed to more than one language
Direct:
labels
New Speak
Lakoff's gender language theory
Limit:
labels
translations (ex: works of literature; abstract ideas)
New Speak
Orwellian language

culture/ ethnicity
religion
apriori vs. posteriori knowledge
unintentional reinforcement of gender roles/language (Lakoff)
Is it possible to think without language?
How does language extend, direct, or even limit thinking?
To what extent does language generalize individual experience, classifying it within the experience of the group?
To what extent does a personal experience elude expression in language?

Meditation at Lagunitas
By Robert Hass b. 1941 Robert Hass
All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.
The idea, for example, that each particular erases
the luminous clarity of a general idea. That the clown-
faced woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunk
of that black birch is, by his presence,
some tragic falling off from a first world
of undivided light. Or the other notion that,
because there is in this world no one thing
to which the bramble of blackberry corresponds,
a word is elegy to what it signifies.
We talked about it late last night and in the voice
of my friend, there was a thin wire of grief, a tone
almost querulous. After a while I understood that,
talking this way, everything dissolves: justice,
pine, hair, woman, you and I. There was a woman
I made love to and I remembered how, holding
her small shoulders in my hands sometimes,
I felt a violent wonder at her presence
like a thirst for salt, for my childhood river
with its island willows, silly music from the pleasure boat,
muddy places where we caught the little orange-silver fish
called pumpkinseed. It hardly had to do with her.
Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances. I must have been the same to her.
But I remember so much, the way her hands dismantled bread,
the thing her father said that hurt her, what
she dreamed. There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.


"All the new thinking is about loss...The idea, for example, that each particular erases the luminous clarity of a general idea...a word is elegy to what it signifies."

Abstract concepts lose meaning when reduced to one word, broken down classically, or when opposite conepts are said to be equal to each other (as expressed in Double Think).
Activity
For each of the people shown, write a one-word label (first thing that comes to mind, whether from physical appearance or previous knowledge).
Language and various ways of knowing go hand-in-hand in influencing how one perceives the world, whether through hierarchies of ideas, emotional imperative, intuition, or spiritual enlightenment.
Full transcript