Language, lists and learning LO20570

Ray E. Harrell (mcore@IDT.NET)
Thu, 04 Feb 1999 23:39:16 -0500

Replying to LO20565 --

I've been a lurker for sometime due to writing, productions and grant
proposals but I particularly enjoyed At, Steve and Stanton's discussion
around language.

This is a comment on the responses. It seems that At's response to LO as
verb noun is a particularly un-English one. With such an erudite mind as
At has I am tempted to simply enjoy the ride as I have on his Entropy
posts but I feel that there is an important point here. I encounter it

But before I continue I would like to second Steve's comment about the
importance of new or young professions redefining traditional terms in
their own context. If a profession e.g. economics, redefines words like
"productive" and "value" in ways that eliminate other traditional
professions, what you can end up with at the very least is war and at the
most bigotry and loss of life.

We can see the same in the new computereeze which is beginning to preach
"subjective" or "contextual" meanings as being superior to "denotative" or
dictionary meanings of things in the regular world. Often the battle in
the U.S. within the political litigious climate seems like a game held
between the denotative and connotative sides of English Diction for who
will become the Alpha Male. Sort of a "Winner Take All" attitude that
splits the language down the middle and diminishes both sides. But I draw
attention only as an example and won't carry that further.

But it is different with At. The point made here in the U.S. about
Ebonics, or English from an African context, was that being (nouns) grew
from doing (verbs).

Admittedly this is over simple but linguistically most of the European
languages including English are the reverse. You do because of who you
are. Yes it is a circle but that first event, the "big bang," if you will
of language, defines the point of view that will always be "home" to the

We could call it "digital" versus "analogue" or "process" versus "object"
or "content" versus "form" or as in music we call it "classical" as
opposed to "romantic."

It is no accident that process oriented languages are considered Romantic
by most Europeans, and most Americans, while English and most of the other
Indo-European based languages are considered object-ive, logical (linear),
form-al, class oriented i.e. Classical.

Western Science's addiction to the "simplest as the best and most
accurate" has proven such a failure when confronting modern physics that
the objectification of Chaos has begun in an effort to get around the
cultural linguistic bias. ( Some have even related it to gender Romantic
= female while Object-ive = male. In that hierarchy business is male,
ergo. English.)

But English doesn't fit the reality of the Information Revolution very
well. In fact, physicists like Bohm tried to invent another language to
fit the realities of Quantum Physics to get around the problems with
Indo-European languages. The problem is that language not only tells how
you react to the world around you but also limits your perceptions of it
by being the only description you possess of what you are experiencing.

At makes the point as to how this is when he says learning is a verb. In
fact in African oriented English, and in many others, knowledge is a verb.
Being grows from the process of the world. Or the world is a series of
processes, i.e. relationships. Being then becomes the momentary.

This is even true in English when death is associated with the end of
movement, however, in classical Western dance, the ideal is the "still
point" the point of perfect balance when being overcomes doing and is
perfectly still. The image for the English who do Eastern Meditation is
that they expand to the end of the Universe and become ONE with it. But
it is still, quiet, objectified, a noun.

This can go on and on and I can't, so, someone else will have to add to
this one. This is not Indo-European and its context is definitely not
English, but then the Hungarians are Finn-Ural and connected to Japanese.

*"Vagyok, mint minden ember fenseg.
Eszak-fok, titok, idegenseg" (Ady)


Ray Evans Harrell, artistic director
The Magic Circle Chamber Opera of New York, Inc.

*"I am as everyman,
loyal, Northern, secretive,
other, enigmatic"


"Ray E. Harrell" <mcore@IDT.NET>

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