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A Study Of Games As A Matter Of Linguistics
Section 1: The Problem With Our Understanding Of The Meaning(s) Of The Word Game
Part 2: The Foundations Of (The English) Language
By Darren Tomlyn
V1.1 - corrected calling all combinations of concept and manner of use 'basic'.
V1.2 - added extra reason for problems with our understanding of the concept that causes verbs, in relation to my further study and re-write of Part 3. (How I missed this, I don't know...)
V1.3 - added the other types of property I'd missed/forgotten about - (they were on my list, but not where they should have been.)
Following the replies to my last post, I have decided to split what I was intending to write as a single part, into two posts, instead, (you’ll all be relieved to know).
Although I’m writing my blog in English, the previous part (blog post) was applicable to language in general, in relation to its greater context. Only some of what will be written now, however, will be truly, directly applicable to any language other than English. Some of what I write, now, will also be a matter of opinion, though I will do my best to show when that happens, and explain my opinions, themselves, as best as I can.
So, language is about using relationships and similarities between different pieces of information, (because of what the information is of), in order to affect how their representations are used, to enable and allow for greater consistency in communication.
The foundation of language is therefore the rules that govern the relationships and similarities between such pieces of information, because of what they happen to be of, that our recognition of the manners of use they enable can then be based upon, in relation to.
Since our perception of language is not currently based upon this, it should be no surprise that our understanding of both the basic concepts , and our recognition of the distinct manners of use that are caused by them, in relation to the English language, are therefore inconsistent - either incomplete and/or inaccurate.
Again, basing our understanding of language purely upon it being a matter of communication and nothing more, will always be problematic – trying to perceive language as being based upon and around the subjectivity communication has is to do nothing more than deny its very existence, since counteracting such subjectivity is what language is for.
Saying that language can’t exist because people are inherently subjective - (I’ve had many replies to my posts and questions over the years that do exactly that, without realising it – the most recent example: A reply to my post on www.usingenglish.com) - is the equivalent of saying that individual human behaviour is so subjective, that nothing we create can enable any consistency at all, whilst living in a country that is governed by, and may even only exist, because of rules of law and other varying regulations that all govern, and regulate, human behaviour.
So, as I explained before, language is a set of rules - of content (applied semantics), grouping similar peices of information based on the type of basic concept they belong to/are, and of grammar (applied syntactics), creating lists of individual (sequential) syntactic applications (basic manners of (syntactic) use), between such different concepts.
Nearly all of the similarities our current understanding of language are based upon, is that of syntactic application, (hence the use of noun/verb etc.), rather than semantic concept, though it's the latter that truly matters. It's the basic concepts and the relationships between them that help to form a similar base to each and every functional taxonomic hierarchy, that then cause similar syntactic applications in relation to each other, when applicable. It is also where the most fundamental problems appear with our current preception, recognition, teaching and description of language, especially English.
The Basic (Types Of) Concepts Of (Human) Language – The Base Of The Taxonomic Hierarchy
The most basic rules of language, that define it for what it is, are those that govern what the pieces of information are of – the basic concepts and the relationships between them.
Although the entire list of concepts will almost always be subjective on behalf of each and every language, the most basic concepts of all, that our languages are based upon and around, do not appear to be quite so subjective, and therefore form the consistent foundation language truly requires in order to function.
But such concepts will not always be similar in semantic definition either, depending on how they exist within the taxonomic hierarchy, not only as single concepts, but even as types of concept, if, as, and when a language can use different types or aspects of such things differently to others.
It is entirely possible, for example, for different languages to treat different peices of information as completely different concepts, even if the information such a concept represents doesn't change. English, for example, has many different (5) individual properties of things, that could be seen as being different types of a single basic concept, yet because they differ in both semantic and syntactic application, they function as completely separate, but related, individual basic concepts. Precisely because not all languages share the same functionality, however, in relation to such a basic concept, (properties of things), our current perception of treating them as and by a single manner of use, is to deny such differences and (deliberately?) simplify the perception and teaching of such a type of concept and its applications (semantic and syntactic) - probably to bring it into a similar consideration of other languages.
So even if languages can share some basic concepts, it doesn't mean they have to be perceived in exactly the same way, and attempting to do so when it is not applicable, (which is exactly what we currently do with properties of things and adjective in the English language), does nothing more than deny the distinct rules that govern a particular language, in favour of a more simplistic and 'generalist' set of rules that fails to recognise the true differences in both semantic concept and syntactic manner of use each and every language has and uses, and therefore must be defined, described and taught as and by.
By failing to fully recognise and understand how and why such rules truly apply to the functionality of such a language, is again, to deny their full existence, and so anything that isn't covered by such rules becomes subjective, and language devolves into mere syntactic communication.
Which is exactly what has happened to the word game.
So recognising and understanding the most basic concepts of all, that language uses and groups its information into, is the basis for recognising and understanding language, itself, so long as we can then truly recognise and understand how each and every individual language affects and treats such basic cocnepts in its own, subejctive manner., which we currently fail to do, at least for the English language.
Such concepts naturally and inherently exist in a taxonomic hierarchy, defined and based upon the relationships between them. To try and perceive, recognise, understand, describe and teach any of these concepts without incorporating such relationships, is to deny their true existence – and such is the nature of the problems we have, that this is also extremely common.
Because of the taxonomic hierarchy, all but one of these concepts require two relationships that helps govern and define them for what they are – between their greater concept, and their derived/sub concept(s) – and the latter (especially) is problematic, almost right from the beginning, and affects our understanding of nearly all of the basic concepts the English language has and uses.
There are four basic concepts, or types of concept, depending on their application by individual languages, that act as the root of human language, and therefore, possibly, human perception. Whether or not the recognition and distinction of these concepts is inherent or learned, appears to be a yet unasked, let alone unanswered, question, due to our focus on communication, rather than language, at present. These four concepts, however, are consistent enough to allow language to function well enough, in general - even though it is not fully recognised and understood, and therefore not being taught and described fully, properly, and consistently at all times.
EDIT: Since I am using English, however, this will still affect their descriptions, as will almost any individual language. As has been pointed out to me - some languages, for example, do not use plurals like English (and other languages) do, and so their descriptions would not be exactly the same as those I use here. What matters most, is recognising the underlying concepts we need to use language itself to describe.
What we call a thing, or things – (the plural is more applicable to the basic concept in English, due to having multiple sub-categories and types) – appears to be the root of the functional taxonomic hierarchy of every language, regardless of its subjective label.
The reason for this is simple – only things can, and do, exist in isolation, are perceived as such, and are therefore treated as such by our languages, even if many individual things may still be considered based on their relationships to other concepts and applications, like the things (or collection of things) we call games are. Some types of things can also be more abstract, such as information itself, yet still function in exactly the same way.
Since things are the root of the taxonomic hierarchy, it is simply impossible to describe them within any greater context – it does not, nor cannot, exist – they instead provide the context for every other concept to exist, and is why the lack of understanding of such relationships and even concepts themselves, is such a big problem for our understanding of language, in general.
For that reason, what matters for things, is being able to describe all the applicable and appropriate categories and types of things we recognise that a language has and uses, whilst also making sure that the right things are there to describe other types of concepts in relation to, as part of the functional taxonomic hierarchy.
This is the main problem we have with our description of things, currently, for the English language, at least.
So, we could simply describe the concept of things, purely by listing all of the different and applicable types of things there are. Since things exist in isolation, it would therefore make sense to label and describe them as such.
However, in my opinion, it would make sense to split such types of things into two distinct groups. The labels and descriptions of such groups will not, however, exist in isolation, and cannot therefore be described as such – purely as things themselves. (For this reason, we need to describe such things by using another, related concept that I will be looking at shortly.)
In my opinion, it makes sense to have two basic types of thing:
Tangible, and intangible things.
So, we could then describe the basic tangible types of things as:
Objects, people, animals/plants (how many categories of life we wish to describe is completely subjective), substances/materials/elements, and places (town/city etc.).
Recognising and describing such types of things, is rarely a problem, except when they are incomplete. The above types, in my opinion, should be enough to cover all the relevant individual pieces of information – (depending on which categories of life we wish to include).
Describing intangible things, however, is currently a problem, for I have never seen the full amount of required types within any definition or description of such a concept.
The basic intangible things which we generally do recognise and include are:
Information, idea, concept and 'groups'.
But there are three other types of intangible things we must include, or there are few, (if any), ways of relating other concepts to and by things in general – as existing in a taxonomic hierarchy.
Although information, in itself, is often the root of all relationships between things and other concepts, aswell as being the root of what language, communication and semiosis is about, and uses, it is not enough to relate every other different concept to, as and by, directly. Since everything is still about information, however, and things themselves must be seen as such, as being such a concept, and so related to information, any of the most basic circular references must all wind up being based upon and with information itself.
Unfortunately, circular references are unavoidable, since there always needs to be something additional for any extra, different concept to exist, yet it must still be understood in relation to its own context. We cannot describe other concepts purely as things, therefore extra elements must be involved. How these elements are added and related to everything else, introduces the most basic circular reference we require, and therefore defines its nature - that of such a relationship.
The first two intangible things we need to add, therefore introduce such a circular reference, too:
Absolute time, (e.g. a second/minute/hour/week etc.) and absolute space, (e.g. a field/area/meter/kilometre etc.).
EDITED: These are necessary to include, both because they provide the basic setting, (which is itself a thing that is abstracted from both), in which everything else must exist, and because there are other concepts the English language has that must be described in relation to, (in my opinion), as being derived from, these, but more on that in a later part. Why people forget about such concepts I’m not sure, since they should be fairly easy to recognise and include. That both (absolute) time and space can be further applied as properties, or used in relation to such properties (e.g. 25 kilometers long), does not define their basic existence as such. (For example, A day's ride has no meaning or context if a day has not been previously defined as such an intangible thing.)
The last intangible thing, however, is one I have never seen included in any definition of things, for a good reason – the relationships it is required for are not how language is being perceived. Here we have the most basic symptom of how our language is being perceived, recognised and understood – by its effects, and not its cause.
This intangible thing is absolutely required to exist, (and be described and taught as such), for almost every and any other concept within the English language to truly exist, and therefore be recognised and understood as such.
This last intangible thing is required to demonstrate exactly how and why every other concept is truly related to things, in general, directly and/or indirectly – without this, such relationships can never truly and fully exist, and therefore be described as such. In other words, without a recognition of this thing, no other concept truly exists within the English language.
This is not happening currently, for we see it based on a further application, to describe other concepts that are used differently, without recognising that without being applied in such a manner, in isolation, it must exist, and be described and taught, as a basic type of thing. As soon as this is done, all the relationships between such concepts, and the functional taxonomic hierarchy of the English language in general, now takes shape, and can exist.
This intangible thing is, of course:
In using property to describe other concepts, it also gains additional meanings, and additional, different, applicable manners of use – it’s used as part of many different, but related, individual basic means of communication. For this reason, there is a difference between a property, and its property etc.. However, the most direct and important use of property, is in describing the next basic/type of concept humanity recognises and understands to exist, directly in relation to things, that a property happens to be:
Properties Of Things
So we therefore use a type of thing to describe what could appear to be another basic concept that is then treated differently from, in combination with (and in relation to), things, in a syntactic manner by the English language. It should be noted, however, that not all languages treat properties of things in this manner – some treat them in the similar manner as (a) property in general, in a similar manner to things.
The main issue for this basic description is the use of the word of. Have is also applicable, (E.g. Properties Things Have), and is even more direct in relationship that of, but of is far more consistent in describing the relationships we need to recognise for many concepts, not just this one/these. So I prefer to remain consistent in this manner. Of requires a further circular relationship, indeed, it is the most abstract one that is necessary when used to describe this concept/these concepts, in the English language. It is from a concept that can only exist in relation to - as being derived from - this one, so is very circular, but necessary.
However, as pointed out before, the English language does not only have one such basic concept - one single, basic, property of things - it has five such properties, including such a basic (absolute) property itself. As far as I can tell in my study so far, all of these types of properties can be applied in combination with all concepts we'd currently perceive to be applied as nouns, (more on that much later), which is another reason why we currently lump them all together under adjective, even if it's inaccurate as a whole.
I'm going to explain all of the differences, relationships and therefore descriptions of these concepts here, as an example of the problems we have with our perception of semantic concepts, currently. I will be examining their differences in syntactic application in the next part.
Four of these five properties are treated almost as archetypes by the language, in that all other concepts, (in addition to those used as 'noun'), that can be given properties, share similarity in type with these.
We have one basic (absolute) property, with three other properties being directly derived from that. There is another, additional semantic relationship that the basic property has, with one other, further, additional concept, that the others do not, (more on this in a much later part). If we don’t differentiate between the three, then such a relationship and the concept it defines becomes problematic, and, for all intents and purposes, ceases to exist, as I shall examine and explain in a later post (noun).
So the three basic properties could be described as:
(I don't like the current manner of describing such different properties in relation to each other - the third is still comparative, and must be described as such, (rather than merely as superlative), or it's direct relationship with the second isn't complete, in my opinion.)
As we can see, the suffixes of -er and -est are normally/often used to demonstrate the derived type of comparative property being represented. The relationship in representations between the basic, absolute property and its comparative relations, however, is not always consistent – (e.g. good/better/best).
Note that the absolute comparative properties are usually given an article (e.g. the reddest). This can often cause confusion in identity with the concepts used as nouns because of such a similarity in syntactic application. The way to tell the difference, is that absolute comparative properties can be used directly in combination with things and other such concepts used as nouns, without it affecting their meaning, e.g. the best car, whereas the concepts used as nouns themselves, cannot. (We'll come back to this in a later part, in relation to the concepts we currently perceive to be used as perpositions.)
There is, however, a another general type of property the English language has and uses, that does not seem to be always recognised and understood as such. There are three reasons for this:
(If it was only used as an individual word, (2&3), then it would belong to its own concept, causing its own manner of use, but its use as a suffix defines it as a type of property, separate form the latter.)
This suffix is:
This is often used to represent an (unspecified), uncertain or approximate amount of such a property.
The fifth, further type of property is used in combination with things and all other concepts used as noun in the English language.
This property exists to enable other concepts to be further applied in direct combination with (before), (especially those that are other concepts used in relation), and therefore treated as proprties of, things etc..
This property is only used in direct combination with, before, nouns e.g. office work/tennis racket, running water, as being used after in relation is dependent on the original concept it belongs to - e.g. work that (usually) takes place (or is intended to take place) in an office/a racket used to play tennis/water that is running. (Relative time and space also exsts in such a manner - I will be examining/explaining this in later parts on such a subject themselves.)
Property itself is related in the taxonomic hierarchy as being a type of thing, and of is a circular relationship via 'have' and relate itself which belongs to the next concept.
So with the place of this concept (properties (of) things) in the taxonomic hierarchy fixed, we can therefore look at the next basic concept.
As of this moment in time, from what I’ve read, this concept or type thereof, essentially has no current applicable description at all. As such, we have serious problems. The next few posts of my blog after this one will exist in order to help demonstrate and describe the most serious problems we have that this is part of. Although this concept is currently perceived as such - a single concept with a single manner of use, that is then split into many different types, including of syntactic applications (which denies the very reason for using manner of use to describe a single list of such applications) - the English language, again, treats it as a group of related concpets instead, derived and related to one basic concept, with differences in semantic representation, semantic relationship/application and syntactic application between them, similar to the different types of property, (that will also take a few parts of my blog to fully explain).
The three main problems we have are:
Although the English language has a group of related basic concepts that cause verb, it is the most basic concept that the others are related to, that matters for all of their descriptions, in a similar manner to the properties of things English has. This particular concept only ever exists in relation to things, whether represented directly or indirectly/abstractly, and must be perceived as and by a particular property they have because of it, that is then applied differently, causing an additional manner of use in all languages, (AFAIK). The manner of use between this concept and the involved thing(s), (direct or abstract), described as subject and object, is the main way in which differences in rules of grammar between languages are described and demonstrated simply, though it’s often described as its manner of use, rather than the concept itself.
But I cannot truly think of any particular property to describe this concept, or type thereof, as and by... For that reason, I feel we need to do something similar to property - take a word and use it as though it is (and must be) a property things have...
This concept therefore must be described as and by such a specific property of things, given its greater context:
Things of happening.*
(I’ve often used things that happen in the past, instead, but it’s not as consistent as the above description, even it seems to ‘feel’ better to me) (Yes, this does mean adding happening to the list of properties but doing something similar is unavoidable.)
*If anyone can think of a better and more consistent property to describe this concept as and by (in place of happening) please let me know!
Unfortunately, we have taken to often describe this concept for what it is in isolation instead, using words such as:
Action, event, occurrence and state.
None of these are suitable at all – (how do we describe the relationship between action and act, if act is defined as and by being action, itself? This is not the circular reference we are looking for!) State is particularly problematic for additional reasons, especially due to its additional use as a property, which is not directly related to this particular concept, as the others are. (One main reason for this is the confusion with other concepts, based on their perceived manner of use, that I will be looking at in later posts.)
EDIT: *So why is the word happening remotely suitable in such a description, when other words, such as event and state etc. are not?
The problem with the words event and state, even beyond the main problems I will describe later, is that they are an attempt to describe a single concept, as and by the particular types it has, without the context they require - an equivalent of describing the concept of things purely as and by using object and information instead, etc.. Since object and information only have an relevance within the concept of things, it should be obvious why we have such problems with such a basic concept that causes verb. (The other types of such concept should have different manners of use when they differ in syntactic application, as they all do.)
We like to use event and state in particular to describe the concept that causes verbs because we perceive the two main types of such a concept in isolation from each other, without the full context they require in order to understand the relationship, differences and similarities between them.
Since the context we require to describe the basic concept is that of things and their properties, we are looking for a description along the lines of Things of ______. What we need is a property (of things) that can therefore be used to describe this concept. Unfortunately, the only word I can think of that is remotely suitable is happening. If anyone can think of any other, more suitable, basic means of communication - I'm all ears! The basic problem with happening, is that it also involves a circular reference* with happen. Since the circular reference only involves the individual basic means of communication, rather than the overall concept, (as would event or state), I feel we could get away with it, until something better comes along.
There are four basic different types of things of happening in the English language that, as explained before, do not share the same (types of) semantic representation/application and syntactic application.
These are, for example:
How and why they all differ in such a manner (beyond the representation which should be obvious) will be examined in a later part.
The final basic concept, or type of concept in English, is:
Properties of Things of Happening
Things of happening can also have the four types of properties as described above, and are used in combination with both the object involved (thing being affected/used) when applicable, and/or just the subject, when not:
There is an additional type of property that things of happening can have. This type is about being able to use properties of other concepts (especially those belonging to things or similar concepts – (more on those later)) in relation to things of happening, and have them be similar to, or like them, often adding the suffix of -ly. (The root (German) word of lich meaning like, (similar to), is where the suffix comes from that such words often use, according to Wikipedia.))
So a car can be quick, and I can throw quickly.
This concept is used either after the subject/object and/or after any other properties, using a comma, or it can be used before the thing that happens, in order to allow for additional properties or applicable concepts to be used and added after it:
(Note that there are other conepts that can be applied in a similar manner to this, but unlike this concept, they can be applied in other, additional ways, and so cannot share the same manner of use, which we currently confuse them for!)
Note that some properties of things (or similar concepts) and things of happening can share the same representation, whilst remaining different pieces of information, (though may still be related), and so used in a different way – they are homonyms, e.g. threw (a) high/higher/highest/high-ish (building).
Although the different types of things of happening must be treated as individual concepts, such properties are not treated differently in combination with any of them.
So, we have a number of basic concepts the English language uses to sort some of its information into, that will then be represented in any applicable way the language has and uses.
These most basic types of concept, as described above, appear to act as foundation of language itself, in general, and therefore appear to be consistent with how humanity perceives the universe around us, both ourselves, and each other, given how consistent every language is in using them, regardless of how they are treated and applied. (Again, whether this is inherent or learned, I do not know.)
The recognition of the differences and relationships between these basic types of concept is therefore inviolable in the recognition and understanding, teaching and description of the basic functionality and identity of language itself – it is the consistent foundation upon which language is based.
Any time we get confused between, or mistaken about these most basic types of concept, language itself cannot function properly, and therefore ceases to exist, regardless of the representations being used.
Thankfully, most of the time, our (inherent?) recognition and understanding of such basic concepts, is so powerful, that we’re able to recognise and understand when it’s correct and consistent or not, especially when we’re aware of, and understand, the manner of use they’re linked with.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t have problems. The fact that there are any problems at all in relation to pieces of information belonging to such basic concepts, especially when and if they’re reflected in the formal teaching and description of language - (dictionaries/encyclopedias/textbooks etc.) – should tell us that maybe we’re not looking at such information in their correct context at this time – maybe confusing syntactic application for semantic meaning, for example.
Our understanding of games is affected by this problem, in more ways than one, though often more indirectly when its definition/basic means of communication does not belong to such basic concepts. Again, though, additional context and explanation of such problems are needed before I can explain more of the problems our understanding of games suffers from, directly.
Either way, this is a simple symptom of perceiving such concepts and information as and by their manners of use, rather than as the individual concepts they must be recognised as.
Circular References In The Functional Taxonomic Hierarchy Of Basic Concepts
The reason why the foundation of language is a taxonomic hierarchy of basic concepts, is because of the existence of the most basic concept that we label as things in the English language, and the relationship every other concept has with things, directly and/or indirectly. Without things no other concept can, or does exist.
But this then leads to a problem - how do we describe other concepts as being different from things, if things are all we can use? This is why I've used (a) property as the root type or thing from which many basic concepts are derived from, (and then used (of) happening to describe a further concept, as an attempt to treat it as a property).
But every other concept must also require additional information and relationships in order to be described. This therefore entails that the most basic required circular-reference in the taxonomic hierarchy of concepts, is that of the relationships themselves. (I'll cover this in the next part.) Where we're currently making mistakes, is not fully recognising the relationships that matter for the basic concepts in general - especially if that is what happens to define the concept itself. So the circular references currently involved in the teaching and description of such basic concepts are far too abstract, too far removed from things, to be of any real use. And so people struggle to recognise and understand exactly how and why such concepts even exist in a taxonomic hierarchy to begin with...
Would it make sense to describe properties of things as being things themselves, because (a) property is a thing? No, of course not. This the mistake we make when using the words event and state to describe the concept that causes verbs - we deny the very existence of the concept we're trying to describe.
The Basic Manners Of Use Of The English Language - (Its Fundamental Means Of Grammar)
The foundation of the English language is therefore not just four individual concepts, but one individual concept, and three additional types of concept.
Each of these are treated differently, that we have recognised in a specific manner, due to our perception and organisation of a basic syntactic framework/sentence structure in which they are combined:
(The) big (property of thing) bird (animal->thing) flew (thing of happening) higher (relative comparative property of the thing of happening)
For this reason, we have chosen to give each of these types of concept their own distinct, single and individual, manner of use.
The labels we give such manners of use, currently, that we perceive these types of concepts to cause, are:
Unfortunately, all of these currently have some problems, that vary in nature:
Some of these basic manners of use are caused by, and therefore linked with, multiple different concepts.
For this reason, perceiving and trying to describe and label such individual concepts as and by their general manner of use, will never be very precise and/or consistent. This is why recognising the individual combinations of each and every concept and manner of use – what I’ve labelled as its fundamental means of grammar - has to act as the foundation for the teaching and description of the basic functionality of the language itself, instead, in general.
Some of these basic concepts, (whether recognised or not) that cause such similar perceived manners of use, actually have different syntactic applications with other, additional concepts than the concepts they are grouped with, (e.g. not all types of properties are applied directly in combination with very/extremely etc.).
For that reason, we instead have up to 29 fundamental means of grammar acting as the foundation of the English language, rather than four basic concepts.
The mere existence of these manners of use, betrays any thoughts or beliefs of langauge being mere communication, syntactic or otherwise, and therefore still as subjective.
If language had no consistent rules governing the information being represented, such recognised and labelled manners of use would have no function, relevance or reason to exist.
Using such rules to manage the complexity of communication, to enable greater consistency in its use, is what langauge is for. Managing the complexity of language itself, depends on how well we recognise and understand, then teach and describe such rules.
This is a big problem, currently, but in order to truly and fully understand exactly how and why, and what the specific problems are, we still need to go into a bit more detail, which is what my next post is now for and about.