Posted: Sep 20, 2010 10:41 pm
by Zwaarddijk
Audley Strange wrote:
shh wrote:
Audley Strange wrote:One of my major pet peeves might be worth pointing out, that the only thing one should take from words written, is the explicit meaning of the words written. To project and extrapolate and infer that which is not written may provide some form of meaning but that meaning is often erroneous and biased based on the flawed assumptions of the reader.
I'd agree with that, I think I'd link it to something on language generally, and contradictions as well though, because I can also think of times where people say "that's not what I mean" but I know it's what they said. :naughty2:

Well even a brief understanding of what general semantics is ( :grin: ) would seem essential to me. But you are right. When people do that to me. I find it annoying when the say something, I hear what they say, question it and they say "oh you know what I mean" when I clearly don't. In communication, one shouldn't have to fucking guess.

I think you are mistaken here. Language would work way less efficiently if it weren't for it being more or less "built" (metaphorically) on a bunch of evolutionarily tuned heuristics. Everyone extrapolates - even you. So don't be judgmental about it.
On occasion, heuristic methods fail, obviously. Whether they fail for a given conversation most of the time has to do with concentration, interest in the topic at hand, differing assumptions and knowledge, etc. A good piece of advice then would be: don't try and tell someone something that they're incapable of properly grasping. Just nod and look happy and hope something approaching the result you wanted to achieve has been obtained.

Furthermore, the way people encode information in speech is not necessarily completely compliant to formal logic. It's more often wrapped in commonsensical shortcuts, and anyone trying to be superior by pointing out how illogical some way of expressing something is generally fails to appreciate how cleverly memetical evolution in general has optimized communication and the compression of information in language (visavis the hardware on which language runs, viz. our brain and for most languages, our voice and hearing organs).

A final point about language and communication - is the primary use of language really the perfect copying of ideas into another mind? I'd suggest that misunderstanding is a source of memetic ~mutations that further go through a reaper function whereby misunderstandings with no benefits are less likely to survive than misunderstandings with benefits - so expressing a half-assed idea sometimes might produce a better result for someone that misunderstood it (in a better way than it originally was expressed), and thereby it'd have enriched mankind. Also, a lot of communication is not so much about transferring perfect ideas anyway, but about transferring sufficiently close approximations.
If you cannot reach close enough approximations for your purpose*, you should probably change your approach. A screwdriver isn't very useful when you need to hammer in nails.

* how do you measure that, even? How would one know whether one were using a flawed metric for it?