Linking question: Does our perception of words change according to how they are presented?
Yes, our perception of words change according to how they are presented. When words are illustrated in the form of images or drawings, that image is instantly associated to the word, so when you think of the word, that image comes to mind. For example, if I found the name Lucy really pretty, and I met an ugly person with that name, then I would change my opinion about the beauty of the name, because the appearance of the person associated to it is not pretty. Another example is if you think of a bunny rabbit as a cute, fluffy pet, and then you see a cooked rabbit, you will automatically think of the cooked rabbit when you hear the words ‘’bunny rabbit’’. When we are learning to speak, we associate words with objects or people, so it is only natural for us to associate any word with a picture or image of it. As a conclusion, I certainly believe that our perception of words change according to how they are presented, since each word is related to some sort of image, which then affects the way we perceive or look at such object.
In my opinion it is impossible to overcome completely ambiguity. While defending an idea there is always going to be a possibility of another various types of interpretations of that idea or of something that derives from that idea. As we have seen before to be as precise as possible is essential to defend any idea at hand. Not leaving spaces for other types of interpretations and other views in the matter is essential to make a point. The more vague one is on defending a point the more it is possible for another person the modify that point into something else. In all areas that we are studying or trying to defend it is necessary that we are precise in ever argument we make; however, there has to left a little bit of ambiguity to allow the audience to think for themselves. In every discipline it is essential to have a precise argument, but also to know what to left unsaid to allow the audience to reach their own conclusion. Being persuasive and being able to create and argument that most people agree to, is being able to find in every argument made the correct balance of precision and ambiguity. As stated before the ambiguity allows the audience to believe that are being able to reach that conclusion through their own logic, while the precision the argument is being presented prevents the audience from getting to any other conclusion.
I agree about ambiguity being unavoidable at some level. Even a simple declarative statement like "YOUR HAIR IS ON FIRE!" could lead one to ask "All of it, or just some?"
How does the capacity to communicate personal experiences and thoughts through language affect knowledge? To what extent does knowledge actually depend on language: on the transmission of concepts from one person or generation to another, and on exposure of concepts or claims to public scrutiny?
Knowledge is greatly affected by someone’s ability to communicate and depends heavily on communication and awareness. Someone could know something yet if they are unable to communicate the concept or idea to someone else correctly than the knowledge could be lost. Also, if someone can’t communicate their knowledge, other people can’t gain knowledge. In addition, knowledge could be explained incorrectly which could lead to drastic results of people gaining knowledge that is incorrect. Knowledge depends greatly on communication and the public. Without communication and language the spreading of knowledge could not be possible. It also depends on accuracy so false knowledge isn’t spread. Exposure to the public is an added benefit to the spread of knowledge because sharing goes much faster. Also, opening up the knowledge in public allows the knowledge to be verified under public scrutiny and ensures that knowledge is true. However, the communication of knowledge and thoughts through language over many generations may cause a loss in details of a story. After many generations, small details are left out of a story or personal experience which may have an effect on the knowledge of the next generation. Knowledge is not only spread by talking but also by writing, the TV, radio, pictures and much more.
What is lost in translation from one language to another? Why?
There are quite a few things that can technically be considered “lost in translation”. To me the most important of these is the emotion that is created and felt from uttering and hearing a phrase, word, sentence or story. Many languages that are still in use today will have words that definitely have translations to words in other languages. This is because as time progresses ideas also spread amongst people. Languages begin to add new words that often come from other languages still used or unused. It is this transfer of information that causes languages to have words for the common expressions of the time. However, based on upbringing, the environment in which language is taught, and that age of the language, certain phrases can be lost in translation because they lose the emotion that they were meant to have. In IB Spanish we watched a comedy movie called “El Gran Final”. The whole movie was filled with supposedly funny jokes that Ms. Gardenia really enjoyed. However, I understood the direct translation of the words, but the jokes still did not make sense and were not funny. One phrase I found in Portuguese is “E ai”, which is the equivalent of “what’s up”. However the literal translation is and there and the literal translation of what’s up is what is above. Neither of these makes sense if no context is given or the person is not familiar with culture and how the meaning of the word has strayed from the direct translation.
Good point about humor not translating well across cultures. Few Brazilians, for example, think The Big Lebowski is funny.
Linking question: To what extent is it possible to overcome ambiguity and vagueness in language? In what contexts might ambiguity either impede knowledge or contribute to it? Does the balance between precision and ambiguity alter from one discipline to another?
I believe it is nearly impossible to overcome ambiguity and vagueness in language even in subjects that require precision, such as science and math. A valid example of vagueness even in what we consider to be a precise method, the scientific method, would be recording an observation that a substance is “orange and bubbly”. Even though this physical observation seems to be pretty self-explanatory and objective, there is still open space for interpretation, since it does not specify what tone or brightness of orange the substance has and if it is fully bubbly or only contains bubbles in certain parts. On the other hand, ambiguity contributes to knowledge in contexts such as literature, since ambiguous language is often used as a mechanism by authors in order to open the interpretative boundaries of their readers. For example, in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, the ambiguous ending leaves it open for the reader to conclude what the main character Edna’s finale is based on their personal perspectives. A conservative, sexist reader might conclude that Edna ultimately commits suicide because she is profoundly sorry and embittered by her sins, whereas an open-minded, feminist would probably conclude that the end of the novel implies that the main character liberates herself from the repressive 19th century society. Thus, we can certainly conclude that the balance between precision and ambiguity alters from one discipline to another.
Linking Question: What is the role of language in creating and reinforcing social distinctions, such as class, ethnicity and gender?
I believe that language plays a huge role in creating and reinforcing social distinctions. The strongest reason why I believe this, is because the accurate use of language is derived from good education for several years, thus, since people with more favorable social conditions can afford to attend schools in which they are taught how to speak properly, it already creates a distinction between them and less economic conditions who are not able to pay for quality education and end up speaking a lot of slang, incorrect syntax and grammar. In the case of Brazil, this is also a distinction between classes because the majority of the poor people in Brazil who cannot pay for quality education are black, while the elite minority who is able to pay for education is white, which creates a gap between these ethnicities.
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