Sunday, May 30, 2004

Language Woes

Words are wonderful (full of wonder), and a ton of fun to play with. Suffixes and prefixes and infixes and any other kinds of fixes add so much extra meaning to words, they allow so much extra depth that could by added via a myriad of other words. Instead of having to memorize a ton of definitions, we instead can just remember a few, and combine them in new and interesting ways.

Of course, taken to the extreme, this will lead to a 1984-type language, in which words can be removed from the language, words which do have extra depth or shades of meaning, because they aren't politically appropriate. But as long as we can retain the extra words, with different meanings and shadings, we can manage to not only keep our freedom, but also converse intelligently with a variety of people. So getting rid of the extra words would be double-plus-un-good. But having the ability to extend the meaning of a word is even better.

Of course, with our complex language (as with many a complex language since the dawn of time), our language has the capability of being both ambiguous and also a lot of fun to play with. Not as much fun as the Romans, maybe, with their oracles that could say pretty much anything and make no sense, but be taken as incredible wisdom and a great prophecy.

And then, even better, when the prophecy was fulfilled (filled to fullness?) they could look back and see that, well, yeah, the oracle's nonsense could have meant things to work out that way.

No, English is much harder to do that with. It can still be played with, the things that you can do with it are pretty amazing. But it still makes me feel aweful.

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