[LMB] Switched on Language ot:

Mark A Mandel mam at theworld.com
Fri, 8 Feb 2002 19:43:32 -0500


On Thu, 7 Feb 2002 Pouncer at aol.com wrote:


#And too, it's much more convenient to use the model.
#Like the bat navigating his mental IMAGE of a cave,
#rather than the cave itself... like an engineer manipulating
#the equations rather than building a prototype, there's
#a great deal of unjustified expectation in communicating
#by word-symbols, alone.

You've just provided a beautiful case-in-point. (Don't ask "in point of
what", though.) You (and I, but I'll use you for example :-)\ ) aren't
navigating the *room* any more than the bat is navigating the cave:
you're navigating your mental image of the room. Vision is not
perception-of-truth, any more or less than sonar is. Our languages and
thoughts are extravagantly biased that way, though, because our nervous
systems are.

In E. E. Smith's classic sf Lensman series, some aliens have a
"perception" sense which is direct perception of matter; it serves them
in place of vision, but it's not troubled by darkness or barriers and is
not subject to distortion. We don't have that.

One of Poul Anderson's non-human characters says at one point, approx.:
	"Ah, I scent. No... you say 'I see' to mean 'I understand',
	 do you not?"

-- Mark A. Mandel
   Linguist at Large