Linguistic Beings

Humans perceive things through language. Without the language that describes gravity we would not understand it as the phenomenon it is. Sure, objects would move in a direction, but we might ascribe all sorts of bizarre meaning to that without the understanding we’ve been given of gravity, through language. (And we still don’t completely understand it.)

Eskimos have 50 different words for different kinds of (and uses for) snow.

Another example is color…

colorcrayonsDifferent people often don’t see a color the same way, with the same name or same emotional meaning.  Within the same society/culture the difference will be small, but inter-culturally the difference can be enormous. Colors are socially defined. Yes, they have a quantifiable definition via physics BUT color names and the ability differentiate between any two given colors is socially learned and not based on fundamental physiology. An example is in Japanese there isn’t a traditional differentiation between what we call Green and Blue – it’s all “Blue” in different shades. The word for Green is a recent linguistic creation. You still see this in the language. So the phrase, “I like green” has a far deeper existential angle – what does it mean to like a color that “doesn’t exist” in another culture?
Nearly everything you ‘know’ is a linguistic interpretation. This confines our understanding of the world. Sure, it can be humorous to compare the simplistic view of the color spectrum understood by men versus women, but we are all confined in what we understand by the very same linguistic limitations. And that perception we divine for ourselves in language is our reality.
We open up to something new when we can finally begin to understand it through language, and not before.

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