Dialogue, language, learning LO25359

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Date: 09/20/00

Replying to LO25332 --

Dear Organlearners,

Leo Minnigh <l.d.minnigh@library.tudelft.nl> writes:

>I hope that the complexity of this isssue is not too high
>and that this will not lead to an early silence.
>But maybe we cannot speak of a dialogue. Until now most
>contributions could be read on their own, they all divergate
>in such interesting directions.

Greetings Leo,

I do hope so too.

I am very sensitive to what we call in our mother tongue Afrikaans
"taalonmagting". The word "taal" means "language". The prefix
"on(t)-" in the word "onmagting" means "un-", the "mag" means
"power" or "might" and the "-ing" is exactly like the "-ing" in
Thus "on(t)magting" means "dispowering".

This "taalonmagting" begins very subtle when a person's tacit knowledge
cannot emerge into formal knowledge. The person's formal thinking in
langauge becomes seriously jeopardised. It is here where the mothertongue
plays the crucial role.

I think that the expecting mother ought to speak as much as possible in
one language -- the mother tongue -- so that the unborn baby can learn
connecting natal experiences to the "music" of that langauge. I know that
otherness (diversity) is essential to creativity and thus learning, but we
also have to bear fruitfulness (effective connections) in mind.To connect
three things effectively is far more complex than two things. In fact, the
depiction of "three particle" system of both Newtonian and quantum
mechanics has not yet been formalised completely. It is now called the
(rather infamous) "three particle problem". How can we expect the unborn
baby to do what expert physicists cannot do?

The second level in "taalonmagting" is when the person cannot speak or
hear in the same language as the one in which that person is thinking.
This usually happens in a multicultural society in which a lingua franca
displaces other languages in day to day dealings.

I think that daily dealings in all the languages and not only the lingua
franca of that society have to be advanced. The crucial point here is
colaboration and not competition. The people who speak the lingua franca
as mother tongue will have to explain the deeper issues of the lingua
franca in the other languages. If it is done in the lingua franca, they
will not be able to connect to the experential and tacit levels of
knowledge of the other language speaker. Connecting to the formal
knowledge of the other speaker will be mute. It will be like me using
chemical symbolics (unknown to most of you) to explain a finer point of
creativity such as the "creative collapse" or "digestive action".

The third level in "taalonmagting" is when the person cannot write or read
what that person can speak or hear. This level is better known as
illiteracy. Whereas the first two levels frequently occur in a
multicultural society and seldom in a monocultural society, this third
level occurs in both kinds of society.

I think it is a wasted effort to reduce illiteracy in the lingua franca of
a society when the first two levels of "taalonmagting" are not eradicated
too. I have seen too much how the best intentions of benefactors to
alleviate illiteracy have failed when ignoring the first two levels. It
then becomes like pouring water on sand -- it just drains and drains
without ever forming a pool from which the beneficiary can drink.

There are even higher levels in "taalonmagting". These levels
involve what we may call "technical" (artificial) languages rather
than the "natural" languages involved in the first three levels.
A case which we have encountered several times in our dear
LO-dialogue is the language of symbolic logic. The expression
is a typical example. It is a theorem which says that we have to
excempt p from LEM should we want to accomodate the result
q of a bifurcation.

Perhaps the most powerful suggestion of such higher levels is in the
Afrikaans word "taal" itself. It comes from an ancient Germanic word from
which also the English words "tell" and "tale" have evolved. The
etymology (evolution) of "tell" and "tale" is based on the OE (Old
English, Anglo-Saxon) words "tellan" (verb) and "tellu" (noun). These two
words had a much wider meaning than merely speaking narratives (in a
natural language).

For example, they were applied to counting and calculation. This counting
and calculation have since then evolved in the technical language better
known as mathematics! In Afrikaans the ancient words "tel" (count) and
"tal"-"getal"-"aantal" (number) are still being used in mathematics! Even
the famous English word "dollar" is derived from "taller" (counter). The
person counting money in the bank is still called a "teller".

They were also applied to listings and expositions, i.e. accounts which
are detailed to the very end. A merchant would lay out (tell) all his
merchandise before selling begins. Even the Greek prefix "telo-" (far,
end) like in television tells about the ancient Indo-Germanic roots of
"tell" and "tale".

They were even applied to the messages locked up in works of art like
paintings, sculptures and music. Any such an artifact tells ("vertel",
foretell) a message according to its kind. We might think today that this
"telling" of an artifact is figurative speach, but long ago it was as
actual as telling a tale by mouth.

I am now sure beyond any doubt that any person who suffers
"taalonmagting" becomes exposed to the ablations typical of
The Digestor LO21272
. http://www.learning-org.com/99.04/0167.html
In other words, the spirtual free energy of any "taalonmagte"
person gradually diminishes so that the person will gradually
sink deeper into the bog of poverty. A demonstration in the making
is the case of Afrikaans speaking peoples (white, brown and even
some black). Since the fall of apartheid (1992) they have been
exposed to "taalonmagting" by the new ruling party (ANC) who
wants everything to be done in English. The increase of poverty
among Afrikaans speaking people has been dramatic since 1992.
In the case of white Afrikaans speaking people, it is "justified" as
a necessary pain of "affirmative action" to undo the injustices of
apartheid. (Do you remember the equation Afrikaans=apartheid?)
But in the case of brown and black Afrikaans speaking peoples
such "justification" is a gross injustice.

>I like to say some words on still another direction, but
>first I will go back to At's struggle with the proper(?)
>words for emergence and immergence. His struggle
>was partly focussed on the translation of his thoughts
>and words in Afrikaans: 'ontluiking' and 'terugvalling'.

Dear leo, I have no problem with the English "emergence" and "immergence".
Furthermore, we have in Afrikaans rules like in English to borrow Greek
and Latin words and make them Afrikaans. The result in Afrikaans would be
"emergensie" and "immergensie", like "emigrasie" and "immigrasie"
(emigration and immigration).

My problem is the following. Like in English, Afrikaans has two layers, a
Germanic bottom layer and a Romanic (Greek and Latin) top layer. When I
use "emergensie" and "immergensie", they will belong to the top layer.
Because they involve two concepts which people have seldom articulated,
although they may have advanced tacit knowledge on these two concepts,
these two words are very unfamilar, almost alien, to the tacit knowledge
of Afrikaans people when articulated with Romanic words. However, whe two
words "ontluiking" and "terugvalling" come from the Germanic bottom layer
and thus need no detailed explanation. It is hair rasing for me to observe
how Afrikaans speaking people intuitively understand "ontluiking" and
"terugvalling" when I begin to talk on these two concepts while frowning
when I use "emergensie" and "immergensie".

But I do not like "ontluiking" and "terugvalling" because they are
disjunct in their roots. There is nothing in them (except the suffix
"-ing") to suggest that they are closely related as the two possible
outcomes of an ordinate bifurcation. On the other hand, the two much
shorter words "knou" (kno) and "afknou" (offkno), eventhough not used in
this sense any more, depicts intuitively this close ordinate relationship
like it is also depicted by the words "emergence" and "immergence".

I do not know how it is with English speaking people in general, but very
few Afrikaans speaking people know that "e-" and "im-" ("in-") are
prefixes given to Romanic words as well as that these prefixes have
opposite meanings. Perhaps fellow learners can help me because were it not
for me, the seldom used word "immergence" would probably never have
surfaced in our LO-dialogue. What were your intuitive thinking when your
eyes encountered the word "immergence" the first few times?

I have made an experiment some weeks ago. I have written a fairly long
piece in Afrikaans on the role of specific the mothertongue in all (from
creativity to love) mental emergences. I have not avoided the technical
side of it involving dynamics like free energy and entropy production and
involving mechanics like the seven essentialities of creativity.

I have used words only from the Germanic bottom layer and avoided
"borrowed" words coming from the Romanic top layer. I gave it to two
friends of mine, Ben Goslin (white, Afrikaans mothertongue) and Buthi
Skozana (black, Pedi mothertongue). Both are linguists and know more than
a dozen languages -- Afrikaans, English and Banthu languages like Pedi,
Tswana, Zulu, etc. Ben is the guru who not only knows more than a dozen
Banthu languages, but also several European languages and a little bit of
Khoi and San languages too. Most importantly, both Ben and Buthi are every
sensitive to "taalonmagting". Buthi is doing great work in developing the
writing of Pedi for the Pedi people. He has to overcome huge barriers,
thus working himself into utter exhaustion every day. When that happens,
the face of a black person turns grey.

I have told both that I have used only words coming from the bottom layer.
I asked Ben to translate it into any Banthu language of his choice -- but
strictly avoiding loan words (Germanic and Romanic) in that Banthu
language. In other words, he has to use only words coming from its bottom
Banthu layer. I asked Buthi to translate it into Pedi, using whatever Pedi
(Banthu bottom layer and European top layer) he deems necessary.

Ben managed to point out where I have slipped up myself by using a few
Romanic words rather than Germanic words as intended. But as for
translating it in any Banthu language using only its bottom layer, he just
shook his head. He said that, even with his profound knowledge on Banthu
langauges, he just have not enough intuition to know which Banthu word
rather than borrowed European word to use. He said that he marvels at what
a Banthu speaking kid will easily do which he as a linguist find extremely
difficult to do, namely speaking within the bottom layer.

As for Buthi, he also shook his head. His problems had been even worse.
Remember that he speaks Afrikaans well by using words from both its
Germanic bottom layer and its Romanic top layer. However, he then had to
use an Afrikaans dictionary to find Romanic equivalents for Germanic words
when we use in Afrikaans the Romanic words more often (because of
"creeping anglisation") and also when the Romanic rather than the Germanic
words occur in the top European layer of Pedi. Thereafter he had to use
an Afrikaans-English dictionary to look up the English words and
subsequently an English-Pedi dictionary to find the best Pedi word. (There
is no Afrikaans-Pedi dictionary available so as to take shortcut.) He said
that he became extremely aware that he knows too little (and he knows
much!) of the etymologies of both the European and Banthu languages to
make a swift, yet correct translation. He will first have to catch op on
the evolution of all these languages and by then the translation will have
taken ages!

But then he said something which warmed my heart. He thinks that he know
knows tacitly what I mean by "stomkennis" (tacit knowledge) and
"vormkennis" (formal knowledge). This very translation task, eventhough he
had completed only a couple of paragraphs, gave him the very experience
from which his tacit knowledge on articulating tacit knowledge emerged.

>At, I sympathise with your thoughts and feelings,
>particularly on the search for the best solutions for
>the pictures you have in mind with 'emergence' and
>'immergence'. Therefore I hesitate very much with a
>suggestion, nevertheless I will give them:

I am so glad that you have given them. This is exactly what the
LO-dialogue is meant for -- to explore with all seven essentialities the
learning tasks ahead of us. What I have done above with Ben an Buthi, is
to explore sureness in identity and categoricity. I am of opinion that a
loanword in the top layer of a mother tongue may have an identity for a
person, but that identity is not necessarily categorical. It is because
that word has been "borrowed" from another language which has a different
context than the context of the bottom layer.

Buthi was certainly rattled by this extraordinary experience in sureness.

Leo, fellow learners may think that I am "splitting" hairs here. It is
not. There are almost two dozen langaues spoken by a million or more
people here in only South Africa. This adds up to some fourty million
people!!! Each of them will experience at least what Buthi experienced.
But since only a very few of them will be linguists like Buthi, knowing
which creative path to follow, the vast remainder of them will have only
dispair when borrowing words like "emergence" and "immergence" to
articulate what they already know tacitly. This, my dear friend, is what
"taalonmagting" is. This is one main reason why more than 60% of these
some fourty million people in South Africa live in utter poverty. When we
go above our borders into Southern Africa wrecked by colonialism, it
involves more than one hundred million people of which some 90% live in
utter poverty.

Here in South Africa they give apartheid the blame. Above our borders in
the rest of Southern Africa they give the colonial powers the blame.
Apartheid and colonialism is of the past. Yet Southern Africa is sinking
deeper into underscribale miseries. This happening while its peoples
desperately try to learn in the lingua franca which must (so they believe)
bring them material wealth, namely English. The two exceptions are Angola
and Mozambique where the lingua franca is Portugese. But even there the
miseries are the same, ......

Or perhaps even worse. Last Saturday I saw on two occasions a black person
walking with crutches, lower part of the legs blasted away by landmines. I
asked my two own black workers to listen to what langauge they were
speaking. They could not make it out, except suspecting that they were
"illegal immigrants" from Mozambique, seeking a better life here in a
remote region where they would not be so easily be found.

>instead of emergence, maybe the word 'sprout'
>(Afrikaans/Dutch: spruit/ontspruiten) will serve.
>instead of immergence, maybe the word 'break (off)'
>will serve.
>The advantage of these words is that they both enable
>us to create also words that name the process of, and
>the becoming: sprouting and breaking.

Yes, The disdvantage for me is that "sprout" and "break" have no common
stem in them to suggest that they are so closely related as a result of
ordinate bifurcations. A possible solution is to speak of "offsprout" or
"unsprout" rather than "break".

I have traced the etymology (going backwards in the evolution of a word)
of "sprout" as far as my time has allowed me. What a "ping-pong joy" it
has not been! It comes form the Old English (Anglo Saxon) word "asprutan".

At first I frowned upon this "asprutan" because it sounded alien to the
"sounds" in my thinking. But then the "ping-pong" started to happen. The
first word which I began to think of, was the Afrikans word "aspereer"
(aspire). It is spelled "aspireer" because linguists say that it is
derived from the Latin "ad-"=to and "spiro"=breath. But "aspereer" like
"aspire" means to work for, to long for, to aim at and to reach upward --
things having to do with emergences just as you have suggested for

Then next word which I thought off, is "Asparagus". I have seen several
"Asparagus" species on my botanising trip last Saturday. Interesting
enough, Africa has dozens of Asparagus species, formerly known as
Protasparagus. The "pro" was used to differentiate them for the much older
single species Asparagus which occurs in Europe. The "pro" indicated that
they were reckoned to be more primitive. This name Asparagus was derived
from the 2500 year old Persian name "asparag" for this vegetable which
they have been cultivating. Guess what? "asparag"=sprouting!

The genus Asparagus was once lumped under the family Liliaceae.
Eventually someone with sense decided that it is too thick for a dollar to
think of these twining schrubs as lilies too. So they now belong to a
family created especially for them, the Asparagaceae.

This made me think of "aspertame", an aminoacid (building blocks of
proteins) rather than a carbohydrate. It is obtained from plants like soya
and asparagus. It is 200 times sweeter than sugar, a carbohydrate. The
original patent for "aspertam" was a local one once held by a South
African. Did you know that "fine chemical" and pharmaceutical companies
of the rich countries are screening the botanical richdom of third world
countries. They have projects running, screening several thousands of
plant species a year to find possible ways to make them even more richer.
Once they find a promising substance like "aspertame", the next step is
for their analytical chemists to determine its exact structure (molecular
organisation). The following step is for their synthesis chemists to
synthesise it artifically from cheap substances derived from the petroleum
industry. The penultimate step is for their chemical engineers to scale up
its production so that it can be produced commercially. The last step is
to sell it in their own countries as the latest and best breakthrough for
a healthier lifestyle.

Then they also sell it to the third world countries to the very few still
able to afford it. They never tell the masses who cannot afford it where
this product can be found natural and often in abundance in the very
country in which they live.

Another botanical name is "Aspergillus", a genus of the fungi
(Ascomycetes). It is that common white woolly mold which we will find on
decaying vegetables and even damp leather. Here again the wooly sprouts
(technically called a "mycelium") reminds us of emergences.

Suddenly I thought of an Afrikaans word which I had used often as a kid,
namely "aspris" (doing something novel on purpose). Our teachers taught
us (sometimes with hidings) not to use that "horrible" word because it was
an ablative form of the English word "express". One of the meanings of
"express" is to put forth thoughts in a tangible manner. We rather had to
use "uitdruklik" where "uit"=out, "druk"=press and "-lik"=like. Is it not
crazy? The word "uitdruklik" was considered by linguists not be an
horrible anglisation of "express" like the word "aspris".

While walking back from the library to my office, "lighting struck" me.
You English speaking fellow learners have a lovely story for children,
called Cinderella. The suffix "-ella" gives the diminutive form of the
"cinder". It is the story of a young orphan, blackened by her toil with
charcoal cinders, who wanted to go to the party of a prince. You know the
rest -- ugly sisters, pumpkin, rats, fairy, glass slippers, midnight, etc.
It is a drama on bifurcations with possible emergences and threatening

Well, fasten your seat belts. We have that story too in Afrikaans, Dutch
and Low German. But we have the following name for it. The suffix "-tjie"
gives the diminutive form of the stem. The name?

"Aspoestertjie" In other words, "aspoester" means the one who
"sprouts" or "emerges"!!!

Thank you very much Leo for these couple of hours of
"ping-pong joy" which I have experienced. It will certainly load my
"spiritual fuel tank" for many hours to come.

>Is learning and forgetting at young age different from
>an elder age? Does learning during the childhood is
>based on permanent repetition and constant confrontation,
>so the brains and memory will be filled every day again
>with the same and with close variations?

Thank you for these deep questions. When as a young father
I told these stories to my kids, it often excited them into
ecstasy. But to get that ecstasy I had to do two things. Firstly,
I had to dramatize the story with appropiate sounds, contorting
my own body (which is called nowadays body langauge) and
"karnuffel" their bodies. Sadly, there is no English word for
It closest meaning would be a "gentle manhandle or bully with the
loving intent to discover new modes of cuddling". For example, a
cut in "karnuffel" would be to pull a finger with pressure over that
part of the body which had to be cut in the story.

The second thing I had to do, is to repeat the story several times before
the delight became ecstasy. Each time I had to work in slight variations
(otherness), or to go into much deeper detail of a tiny part of the story
(sureness), or to make unusual connections between different parts of the
story (fruitfulness), or to bring in a new character (openness). Whatever
changes I made, they were made ONLY once and never repeated. I soon
discovered that to repeat a change would have been certain death to the
ecstasy, but not the delight.

Today I know that just like my children, I was exploring the seven
essentialities of creativity in these stories -- Cinderealla, Goldy Locks,
Red Riding Hood, Animal Musicians, Snowwhite, etc. But in those days the
exploring happened completely tacitly. I had not yet even discovered the
seven essentialities. I could not tell what I was doing, but I knew
exactly what to do to let delight sprout into ecstasy. Their dear mother,
on the other hand, often feared the massive "entropy production" would
wreck the house or their sanity.

Here is something to think finally about. One of the words we can use in
Afrikaans to describe ecstasy is 'opgeto"e'. This word is now used very
seldom, but as a kid I heard it far more. The "op"=up and the
"getoe"=taught (gerund of teach).

Have you experienced ecstasy (Greek: "ekstasis") -- a mental exaltation or
spiritual rapture? Can we accomplish it deliberately with the LO-dialogue?
Can we speak of it as one of the metanoia characterising a LO? Will it
sustain learning for many hours to come?

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <amdelange@gold.up.ac.za> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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