TOK Essay on the Nature of Language & Intelligent Discus
"One of the chief obstacles to intelligent communication is the nature of language itself. Discuss"
Language, it can safely be said, is one of the most important tools, as well as one of the most powerful ones, that human beings use everyday. In, fact it has been said that "language inflicts (wounds) upon the thought of man" (Anshen 341), a feat that no other thing seems able to replicate and which can make language a dangerous tool indeed. If language can be so destructive if misused, even in ignorance, is it not reasonable for us all to strive to master this tool, so that we can wield it safely in an intelligent manner, to communicate and not to cause injury? However, this may not be possible, as the very nature of language itself hinders full mastery of its power, and as a result, hinders intelligent and responsible communication, through which these wounds can be caused. It is the task of this essay to objectively explore the hindrances that are deeply woven into the fabric of our language. The ones that will be so treated are the multiple meanings of words, the multitude of words representing one meaning and the ambiguity that seems ever present and which leads, often times, to misunderstanding and to inadvertent wounding of human thought. Let us begin.
First of all, there is the matter of the multiple meanings that some words seem to possess, or, in other words "many masquerading as one" (Emmet 39). It may seem unreasonable to many that different ideas or objects can posses the same symbol used to describe it, but this can be attributed to mainly one reason. "Creation is, literally, immense; still, the names of created objects for but one small use to which language is appropriated. Every feeling, every desire, every action can be recorded by language. No event is so eccentric, no imagination so wild, no situation so peculiar, but language can publish it." (Johnson 113). Despite this onslaught of things to describe, there are but some 40000 words in the English language to use. It is therefore necessary for more than one meaning to share a single word. Due to this, however, it is sometimes difficult to interpret a sentence in the proper fashion if a word that has multiple meanings is used. A rather harmless example could be "I like him because he is a good...