Tuesday, September 06, 2016

How words shape being …

… Talking Heads | Books and Culture. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… on the very substrate of language in contrast to animal communication, Taylor zeroes in on the difference between recognizing something and having a word for it. This involves more of a leap than we readily suppose. An animal might recognize a triangle as the shape of a hole to jump through, or point to, to get a treat, such that the triangle is the conduit to a concrete reward. However, only humans have a label for the triangle whose usage, via utterance, yields the reward simply of corresponding to the thing we know as a triangle. That is, we humans can regard a triangle and see not only a way to get something done but also the embodiment of something to which there corresponds a name "triangle."

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