Truth and vocabulary

SATURDAY, 13 NOVEMBER 2004

Truth and vocabulary (I)

Who are you if who you are in response to your surroundings and who you are in order to function successfully at a particular time and in a particular environment are not the full “story”? What then, in that sense of the word, is your full story? And how much better and more complete would your answer be if you were fluent in a thousand languages?

SUNDAY, 14 NOVEMBER 2004

Truth and vocabulary (II)

Fact is, 5000 years ago our ancestors possessed a vocabulary of, say, roughly 5000 words with which to express the experience of their reality, and their awareness-of-self. Their expressions of “truth” were therefore also limited to more or less 5000 words.

These days we enjoy the benefit of say, ten to roughly 60,000 words with which to express the reality or realities that we encounter as well as our awareness-of-self – more verbs, adverbs, adjectives, phrases, and so forth. Our “truths”, including our religious beliefs can therefore also be worded in more detail and in more subtle nuances.

One does wonder, how would it have affected an individual’s experience of reality if he or she were the speaker of a language that contained a million words, and if he or she knew and could use with ease ten or 20 times more words than the average educated person who walks the streets of a present-day city?

Fact is: “god” is a word. So are “human” and “soul” and “self” and “life” and “death”. What lies behind these words, which cannot (currently) be expressed in words?

[The website, King James Bible Online, indicates that there are almost 15,000 unique words in the Bible. According to Wikipedia The Oxford English Dictionary lists over 250,000 unique words, excluding many technical, scientific and slang terms.]

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