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Language holds you back?

  1. Jun 25, 2004 #1
    The proposed theory is:-
    That language development sets the absolute limits for the pace of change. (Or conversely is the most crucial catalyst for change)

    The rate of human progress is controlled by the language constructs used for:- firstly cognitive mental process and secondly communication.

    Empirical Basis
    The success of the species over time is closely correlated to the development of brain language centres, presumably as a Darwinian response to the success of humans with language ability.

    The ability to model concepts in spoken languages and more recently Mathamatics and Computer languages is also closely correlated with the rate of human success (rate of resource provision).

    Possible Outcomes
    If true, then is it possible to construct new languages that conceptualise in different ways?

    Firstly catalysing cognitive mental process to radically improved reasoning and potentially a higher rate of communication.

    If such languages were possible what would they be like? (Mathamatics is an obvious example of such a change from the past).

    Why suggest the theory?
    If true, then the overall rate of progress can be enhanced just by new language design. This step change would allow a more efficient use of human intellectual assets than evolution with existing languages.

    Mitigating factors
    The rate of brain development could be the key determining factor.
    There might be no higher level of conceptualisation.
    There might be no higher level of conceptualisation we are capable of understanding.
    The next generation languages may only be usable by devices with a higher rate of information processing
    Step change languages may require group topographies which require a step change in communication that is not available.
    Languages (such as Mathamatics) may be in their final form and not capable of anything other than addition
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 25, 2004 #2


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    There are narrowly targetted new languages. Feynman diagrams are a very good example. They obviate the need for pages of traditional notation in particle physics. This is just a written form though, and only used long after brain development occurs. There are spoken languages that are very useful in narrow circumstances, jargons. If you hear air traffic controllers, you might know the meaning of every word they say, and not have a clue about what they are saying. They have developed an efficient language for their demanding task.

    What we don't find are fundamentally new languages that children will hear during their early developmental phases. True, languages grow, but they are not fundamentally different.

    The exposure (or lack of it) to children is important for a good reason. The human brain continues to build neural networks for linguistic comprehension at a high rate for the first few years of life. If there is some language that is inherently better for thinking, it would be most efficient to expose children to it.

  4. Jun 25, 2004 #3

    I think that your idea is excellent.

    Instead of attemptiing to create new languages on the basis on a single existing language, such as modelled on English, I suggest that you consider looking at the totality of the languages of the species. Together, these tell a story far more complete than the story reflected through the grammar of English alone. A model of nature created on the basis of an understanding of nature as it is reflected through the range of languages of our species would be far more accurate, reflective, and instructive than attempting to create a new language based on a single language or language family.

    You are definitely on the right track, in my opinion.
  5. Jun 25, 2004 #4
    Alot of words

    Interesting subject;

    The Oxford dictionary already contains over 980,000 definitions classified as componets of the english language. To some extent, alot of these words relate to a specific decipline or subject matter.

    I think of communications as fundamental types;

    1. Visual - Uses around 70 to 80 percent of the brain function.
    2. Language communication (Verbal or written).
    3. Math - Obvious uses

    I think some combination of visual graphics and math could continue to evolve into something like your talking about.

    One thing for sure, the written word will become even more difficult to use as a tool in many complex discussions due to semantics. For example, the word "set" requires an eight page description to cover all of the various uses.

    Just my thoughts..........Stay active.
  6. Jun 25, 2004 #5

    I am not sure if you are referring to me with this post.

    However, it is not the number of words or the definitions of words that I am referring to. I am considering the grammar of language, the model of nature that is implied and expressed by the structure of the grammar that contains the words.
  7. Jun 25, 2004 #6
    Hi Prometheus;

    I'm sorry, i wasn't making reference to any particular comment. It just seems to be a very optimistic endeavor. The guys that decided to publish the first dictionary started back in the 1850's. It was finally finished in the 1920's. unfortunately, none of the original people that started the project lived to see its completion.

    I think the concept is a good idea. I just think the scope of the task would be comparable to when those guys began compiling all of that information for the first dictionary. Of course, today, we would have computers that would increase the level of productivity substantually.

    Just my thoughts......
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