Sign language. Spoken language limitations.

Sign languages are considered by linguists as full-fledged and grammatically very sophisticated languages. But they also have unique insights to offer on how meaning works in language in general.

Sign languages can help reveal hidden aspects of the logical structure of spoken language, but they also highlight its limitations because speech lacks the rich iconic resources that sign language uses on top of its sophisticated grammar.

For instance, the logical structure of the English sentence Sarkozy told Obama that he would be elected is conveyed more transparently in sign language. The English sentence is ambiguous, Schlenker explains, as he can refer to Sarkozy or to Obama. Linguists have postulated that this is because the sentence contains some unpronounced – but cognitively real – logical variables like x and y.

If the sentence is understood as Sarkozy (x) told Obama (y) that he (x) would be elected, with the same variable x on Sarkozy and on he, the pronoun refers to Sarkozy; if instead he carries the variable y, it refers to Obama. Remarkably, in sign language the variables x and y can be visibly realized by positions in space, e.g. by signing Sarkozy on the left and Obama on the right. (1)

See.

Now you know that it was about Sarkozy.

Listen.

Now you know what the other guy meant.

Feel.

Now you understand why the other one is even speaking to you.

Reach out with your senses.

It is all the same at the end.

Ideas may sometimes be conveyed better with images.

But blind people cannot see.

Ideas may sometimes be conveyed better with words.

But deaf people cannot hear.

At the end, you will need to reach out to understand what is said.

But not to the person talking to you.

But to the person inside you.

Listen carefully.

Do you listen anything?

See.

Listen.

Feel.

Why are you even listening?

Author: skakos

Spiros Kakos is a thinker located in Greece. He has been Chief Editor of Harmonia Philosophica since its inception. In the past he has worked as a senior technical advisor for many years. In his free time he develops software solutions and contributes to the open source community. He has also worked as a phD researcher in the Advanced Materials sector related to the PCB industry. He likes reading and writting, not only philosophy but also in general. He believes that science and religion are two sides of the same coin and is profoundly interested in Religion and Science philosophy. His philosophical work is mainly concentrated on an effort to free thinking of "logic" and reconcile all philosophical opinions under the umbrella of the "One" that Parmenides - one of the first thinkers - visualized. The "Harmonia Philosophica" articles program is the tool that will accomplish that. Life's purpose is to be defeated by greater things. And the most important things in life are illogical. We must fight the dogmatic belief in "logic" if we are to stay humans... Credo quia absurdum!

Exit mobile version
%%footer%%