When a mom chews out her child utilizing her child’s full name, the little fellow acknowledges that she or he need to not have cleared his or her mother’s perfume simply so the kid might see the cat sneeze. When the ballerina finally reunites with her first enthusiast after fifty years, one can likewise feel the joy as if the feeling physically emanates from the theatre and goes into the accept of the individual. Indeed, language plays many various roles in the different areas of understanding.
Language is a way for interpreting and revealing the world surrounding a person.
Language can be specified into main and secondary levels. The primary level of language is verbal language and the secondary level of language is visual language which includes body language and facial expressions in addition to gestures such as raising a flag. Understanding can be defined as various types of warranted beliefs which people hold. There are 3 essential elements of every knowledge claim.
What we hold to be understanding should include ‘reality’ inasmuch as it should not only be a belief but one that is warranted. Understanding should include realities.
A proposition that a subject does not ‘believe’ can not be a proposition that the subject ‘understands’ results in the concept that understanding needs belief. Lastly, understanding needs ‘validation’ which consists of the reasons and descriptions of how something is ‘real’. This provides one a working meaning of knowledge as ‘warranted true beliefs.’ Beliefs emerge due to many causes. However, when beliefs are ’cause d’ they might not right away qualify as knowledge.
It is very important for beliefs to be stemmed from sources which are trustworthy.
There are 5 sources of knowledge: perception or senses, self-questioning, memory, reason and testimony. Knowledge can be partitioned into 6 distinct areas: Mathematics, Natural Sciences, History, Human Sciences, Ethics and Art. These 6 areas are not special and can overlap with one another. For example, a researcher analyzing international warming might discover ethical considerations and might have to study historical data e. g. meteorological data in more examining the subject. One can see that the research study of Natural Sciences might include other locations of knowledge.
Hence, the six areas are dynamic and overlapping. These six areas are also culturally dependent: for example, in some cultures there is no corresponding word for ‘art’. We now intend to look more specifically at the areas Art, Mathematics and History. These three specific Areas of Knowledge were chosen in order to give a wider perspective of the differing roles of language in the various areas of knowledge. The paper will reveal how the roles of language vary in importance in communicating knowledge of the world.
By considering the field of Art, one must note that Art can be a function of language used to express the ‘self’ through the use of body languages, signs, actions and objects created with the intention of transmitting emotions and/or ideas. Art goes beyond the expressions words possess by giving one both abstract and concrete visual manifestations such as dances, symbols and art paintings. Art can reveal more than what words can express; the saying “a picture paints a thousand words” may very well prove this point. A smiling face can mean more than just being happy—it can also mean excitement and gratefulness.
It appears, then, that there is no strict limit on the number of interpretations for any given picture. Different social backgrounds and cultures may interpret a piece of art uniquely and with different connotations. For instance, the color ‘red’ means luck and prosperity in Chinese culture while on the other hand ‘red’ amounts to danger from the perspective of the America culture. Further, the meaning of a painting or a piece of text depends upon the subjects’ interpretation. Since interpreting a piece of text is more strict and straightforward, consensus should be more easily reached.
The meaning of the words of a text seems to be more objective and fixed and therefore it is more possible to agree on one interpretation of the text. On the other hand, a painting, sculpture, or any object that is labeled as ‘art’ can be interpreted in many ways. The artwork’s meaning appears to be more ambiguous than the meaning of a text. For instance, De Kooning’s paintings of women—reminiscent of abstract painting—are done with bold, slashing and swirling brush strokes which may signify grotesque imagery, violence and carelessness on one side and may signify glorification or even obsession on the other.
The second Area of Knowledge to be considered is Mathematics. Mathematics uses symbols to express truths about the natural world. The use of Mathematical symbols is a manifestation of language which is a powerful way of expressing natural truths. Are these truths more valid or justified than verbal ‘truths’? Mathematical symbols do have a very strict meaning and are more exacting than one’s use of words. The case of ‘1+1=2’ seems to be logically true and expresses an external and natural truth about the world. With this, Mathematics can explain how the world actually works.
However, Mathematics is only one limiting way of understanding and expressing truths about the world as it allows one to express knowledge of space and time while being futile in expressing human behavior and emotions. Some Mathematicians also claim that the language of Mathematics is the best and the most accurate way of expressing knowledge. However, can Mathematics express human emotions which are by nature very subjective? Mathematics limits an individual by merely granting one the capability to express ideas which are reducible to logical symbols.
Mathematics is unable to help one express abstract ideas such as the nature of ‘beauty’, ‘virtue’ or ‘goodness’. Lastly, History uses words to obtain a written record of the past. Unlike Mathematics and Art, History seems to allow the individual to express human behavior, beliefs, ideas and emotions more fully and more accurately. It also attempts to arrive at a consensus on the true nature of past events. Since the meanings of words can vary over time, the study of a historical document may lead to ambiguity and misunderstanding among historians.
For instance, although it is understood that the hieroglyphics of Ancient Egypt are symbols that tell a narrative, deciphering the precise meaning of the individual hieroglyphics is not only tedious but also unreachable. Egyptologist can only ever make an educated guess about the meanings of these symbols. The same holds true about the study of Ancient Languages such as Latin or Anglo-Saxon. Even Modern English is made up of three layers of vocabulary: Anglo-Saxon (with additions from the Old Norse), French and Latin (with additions from Greek).
The roots of language become lost over time thereby obscuring the meanings of the words. In essence, a study of History, which depends on the study of ancient text, reveals how the meaning of words can fail the individual. Although words can help express human’s needs, emotions and wants, the use of words has many limitations. Since a particular word such as ‘cool’ has multiple meanings, how can a group of individuals be certain that they are referring to one and the same thing? Moreover, people from different cultures or social groups may understand ‘cool’ in very different ways.
Yet, while language through words plays a primary role in communication, even the slightest variation of the word’s meaning limits people from understanding even simple statements. Further, language translations may not always be accurate. The inaccuracy of translation amounts to the failure of fully comprehending the meaning of a foreign language. A slight misunderstanding of the words appears inevitable. For example, the Chinese idiom ???? will always be less significant than understanding the phrase in Chinese however hard people try to translate the meaning.
Languages fail to fully express intuition because words oftentimes do not completely justify or express the feelings of individuals. The connotation of words makes their meaning and usage subjective. People from different cultural and social backgrounds may interpret words and ideas quite differently. For example, how does one define the word ‘love’? The abstract and diverse meaning of ‘love’ means we may have different definitions of the word and therefore misunderstandings are not farfetched. We cannot define words with words which are coherent enough to prevent the meaning from becoming ambiguous.
In spite of all these, language remains a vital and important tool for humans to communicate their thoughts and ideas—as John Stuart Mill once said “language is the light of the mind”. The different roles of language forge friendships, business associations and cultural ties. While the discussion is confined to a brief discussion of the roles of language in only three areas of knowledge, one can see that language, although ambiguous and subjective at times, is still the most powerful tool individuals have in expressing knowledge of the world surrounding humanity.