language and mind

June 16, 2011

The Russian yes man?

Filed under: language processing, language use — teresapelka @ 11:19 pm

Plato’s idea for form has been found kind of mathematical – his theory can be known mostly from reports. With this regard, the philosopher would represent this way with making observations as to come up with something very general to have something to say.

Humans have become much more particular since his times, splitting the atom as well as the cure for cancer sure taking much detail. Universalist tendencies have never ceased, however. Would there be one denotation for form?

Webster Collegiate 2005 gives about 12 explications about its entry on form. Form could be the shape and structure of something, the essential nature of a thing; it could be a component to determine kind. The notion for form to refer to the human body dates back to the Antiquity.

Plato would define form as transcendent and eternal. Aristotle opposed: form was immanent. Both philosophers viewed possible experience as deriving from eternal essence. As for the reference to the human body, the essence would be called the human genome nowadays. So far so good, if you think about eternity… ;)

Would there be transcendent language forms? Well, you do need to be more particular. Let us think about a word that would belong with universals according to some trends in linguistics – please feel welcome to see ‘Is it me, or am I a primitive’. The word could be ‘ja’. Looking to its sound shape, the shape being more or less [ia], you find it in German and Russian, for example.

You could ask a native German to say [ia] in a Russian utterance. For example, the German could say [ia magu]. Then you could ask a Russian to reproduce the [ia] in a German utterance. The Russian could say [ah, ia]. Further, you could find speakers of Russian and German with similar voice parameters and paste each other’s realizations of [ia] in longer pieces of speech in German and Russian. For fairness as to form, you could use a little white noise in your recording – people happen to communicate in noisy environments. Persons listening to those passages might either not notice a difference or, even if they would perceive anything like a ‘glitch’, they would interpret the [ia] according to the context, not the original reference for form.

The detail here would be that you say [ia] in German to say ‘yes’; you say [ia] in Russian to say ‘I’ or, sometimes, ‘me’. Implying ‘yes men’ or ‘egotists’ about all Russians and Germans respectively would be undiplomatic and historically little founded. I agree with Aristotle. Form could be immanent and particular. Just the same – so far so good, if you think about eternity. :)

‘Travelers in Grammar – the Whole Journey’

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