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Alfred Korzybski

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Scientific language, which Korzybski used as his model of sane language, is almost exclusively extensional and denotative, or at least tries to be. The language of the mentally ill, most obviously "un-sane," is almost totally intensional and connotative. This is the language that does not correspond to anything "out there," and this is, in fact, how and perhaps even why the user is mentally ill. Korzybski's concern with keeping the conscious "connection" or correspondence between language and verifiable referents is, for all practical purposes, paralleled by the process of psychotherapy. In this process, which is largely "just talk," the purpose is to foster closer and more accurate correspondence between the patient's language and externally verifiable meanings.
--
Neil Postman, in Teaching as a Subversive Activity (1969)

 
Alfred Korzybski

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Scientific language, which Korzybski used as his model of sane language, is almost exclusively extensional and denotative, or at least tries to be. The language of the mentally ill, most obviously "un-sane," is almost totally intensional and connotative. This is the language that does not correspond to anything "out there," and this is, in fact, how and perhaps even why the user is mentally ill. Korzybski's concern with keeping the conscious "connection" or correspondence between language and verifiable referents is, for all practical purposes, paralleled by the process of psychotherapy. In this process, which is largely "just talk," the purpose is to foster closer and more accurate correspondence between the patient's language and externally verifiable meanings. As a semanticist would say, the process of psychotherapy is aimed at shifting the patient's word choices from those having a highly intensional, connotative meanings to others carrying more denotative meanings. A person suffering from paranoid schizophrenia might use perfectly "correct" English in an unassailably "logical" way, but the problem with his language is that it does not correspond to anything "out there."

 
Neil Postman
 

A "new" language that differs from the rest of the crop by one or a couple features is proof positive that both what it came from and what it has become are mutations about to die. There are tens if not hundreds of thousands of such "languages" that people have invented over the years, for all sorts of weird purposes where they just could not use whatever language they were already using, could not extend it, and could not fathom how to modify its tools without making a whole new language. They never stopped to think about how horribly wasteful this is, they just went on to create yet another language called Dodo, the Titanic, Edsel, Kyoto-agreement

 
Erik Naggum
 

It may come as a surprise to our technocrat philosophers, but people do not read, write, speak, or listen primarily for the purpose of achieving a test score. They use language in order to conduct their lives, and to control their lives, and to understand their lives. An improvement in one's language abilities is therefore ...observed in changes in one's purposes, perceptions, and evaluations. Language education... may achieve what George Bernard Shaw asserted is the function of art. "Art," he said in Quintessence of Ibsenismn, "should refine our sense of character and conduct, of justice and sympathy, greatly heightening our self knowledge, self-control, precision of action and considerateness, and making us intolerant of baseness, cruelty, injustice, and intellectual superficialty and vulgarity." ...For my purposes, if you replace the word "art" with the phrase "language education," you will have a precise statement of what I have been trying to say.

 
Neil Postman
 

But more correctly: The fact that I use the word "hand" and all the other words in my sentence without a second thought, indeed that I should stand before the abyss if I wanted so much as to try doubting their meanings shows that absence of doubt belongs to the essence of the language-game, that the question "How do I know..." drags out the language-game, or else does away with it.

 
Ludwig Wittgenstein
 

It is an incontestable fact that the word "Jew" did not come into existence until the year 1775. Prior to 1775 the word "Jew" did not exist in any language. The word "Jew" was introduced into the English for the first time in the 18th century when Sheridan used it in his play "The Rivals", II,i, "She shall have a skin like a mummy, and the beard of a Jew". Prior to this use of the word "Jew" in the English language by Sheridan in 1775 the word "Jew" had not become a word in the English language. Shakespeare never saw the word "Jew" as you will see. Shakespeare never used the word "Jew" in any of his works, the common general belief to the contrary notwithstanding. In his "Merchant of Venice", V.III.i.61, Shakespeare wrote as follows: "what is the reason? I am a Iewe; hath not a Iewe eyes?".

 
Benjamin H. Freedman
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