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Part 8: The problem with (English) Noun (v1.1)

by Darren Tomlyn on 02/02/16 01:37:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

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 8: The Problem With (English) Noun

So, here it is - the part that everything so far has been building towards, and the reason why all this has been written in the first place - it also shouldn’t take long to explain…

(v1.1 I had always intended to add a couple of basic problems to this part, but thought it could wait until I'd fully written it out.)

Contents

Introduction

So far, this blog has been about how and why language functions, and how and why I perceive our current recognition and description of it - especially the English language - to be inconsistent with such functionality – though whether or not any disagrees with it, I don’t know, but this is the part where it all starts to matter.

 

What is noun?

Noun is a basic, if not the most basic, manner of use – a collection of syntactic applications caused by the most basic, fundamental concept of all – things.  The whole point about noun is to describe a manner of application that treats such basic means of communication as though they can, and do, exist in isolation – that other (applicable) concepts are then used in combination with, treating them as subjects, before enabling further use as an object in combination.  I will therefore try to describe all the types of applications it has:

Things can be given and used as the subjects and objects of properties of things that are currently perceived to be used as adjectives, both in combination and relation, which is not consistent - (there are multiple manners of use and associated basic concepts things exist in combination and relation to) - and most types of things of happening used as verbs and more.  They can exist in all relative time and space, and are treated as the object of all concepts used as prepositions and more.  They are often given an article, (e.g. the), applied multiple times in relation to the main logical relationships of and/or, and act as the subject or object of phrases related by the use of while/then/as/if etc..  They can also be related to other concepts by identity etc. (am/is/are and associated things of happening), as both subject and object, (and combined with the negative not (often with an article) when used as the object), or ownership (of) in addition to the logical relationships.

One of the problems we have with noun is treating matters of content – in relation to rules governing what the individual basic means of communication are – such as plurals, countable/non-countable/possessive forms – as being types of syntactic application (types of noun).

The biggest problem we have with noun, however, is failing to recognise that at least one additional concept also causes such a manner of use.  This is directly responsible for most of our problems with understanding games – the concept they belong to, also used as noun, (e.g. a game), is not fully recognised and understood for what it is.

However, there are many other, additional concepts that are similar to this one, but do not share all individual syntactic applications with things or this other concept, and so, although they would probably be considered nouns based on our current perception, the one difference they have, is all it takes for them to have to be considered differently, and not cause noun at all.

 

The nature of the problem

So why do we have problems recognising and understanding the additional concept that causes noun?

The main problem we have, is that because noun is caused by things that can and do exist in isolation, all other concepts that noun would currently be described as being caused by are also being perceived, recognised and described in such a manner - as though they exist in isolation - if they are recognised at all.

Considering, as I’ve shown before, that we can’t even describe the concept of things fully, it shouldn’t be too hard to see why we have trouble recognising any other concepts for what they are, in relation, although, in this case, with an extra degree of separation/abstraction.

The other such concepts used as nouns (or almost), must therefore be perceived, recognised and understood, not in isolation, but by the relationships they have with other concepts.

Needless to say, that if we do not recognise these other concepts for what they are, then the concepts that are derived from them, cannot exist, either.  This is why I’ve had to work my way round to noun, via the other such concepts and manners of use.

So, if you wanted to know why it was so important to separate out the different types of property, or such different concepts of things of happening etc., or why relative time and space as a setting is so important to distinguish from such properties, you’re about to find out…

 

Relationships and Similarities

Although there are a number of additional concepts almost used as nouns, there are three in particular that are most fundamental, only one of which is used as noun.  These are also the simplest and easiest of such concepts to recognise and understand, based on the similarities their representations share with the concepts they are derived from.  The fact that we still can’t recognise them for what they are, demonstrates just how fundamental our failure of linguistics truly is – hence why I had to start at such a fundamental level just to explain how and why such mistakes can even exist in the first place.

All of the additional concepts almost and used as nouns, however, share one thing: the basic relationship they have with the concepts they are derived from.  For this reason, if we can figure out how to describe that, (I have a simple suggestion!), then labelling such concepts will be very simple, but only if we can figure out how best to describe the concepts they are derived from – which is why I have been very particular in such descriptions.

So the three basic concepts that are being derived from, (and show similarities to) are:

  1. Basic (absolute) property of things

This concept is only derived from the basic property, and as such, is also related to it like the additional types of properties are – if we do not recognise any such additional types of properties as being distinct basic concepts then none of them truly exist.

Examples:

  • Red/yellow/blue = colour
  • Weigh = weight
  • High = height
  • Round/square = shape
  • Big/small = size

 

  1. Things of happening*

Again, this concept is derived only from that I described before, used as verb – it has no relationship at all with am/is/are/being/be/been etc..  It is also the only additional concept that is truly applied as noun.

Examples:

  • A run/walk/throw/game/state/puzzle/competition, etc.
  • An event/act/action/activity, etc.

 

Hopefully we can now see why using any of these words to describe a basic concept is not consistent with what they are.  Since this concept is derived from things of happening, it should therefore be obvious why such words have no place at all in describing such a fundamental concept.

*We can also see that this is the concept we need to recognise and understand games in relation to - so, as you can expect, more on this later…  (Art is also related, but is a little more complicated.)

 

  1. Basic (absolute) property of things of happening

Again, this concept shares a similar relationship (and problems) with the concept related to properties of things – as being only derived from the basic type of property.  It is therefore also not derived from the property type of quickly/suddenly etc.)

Examples:

  • I threw the ball (to) a great height/distance etc..
  • I ran at speed.

So, these are the three most basic additional concepts used as, or almost as, nouns.  Considering the representations often demonstrate such a relationship, it is therefore extremely bad that they are not recognised for what they are.

 

The main basic relationship

With that in mind, then, we need to be able to describe the relationship they have, and therefore give them their true label, before moving on to further concepts…

So how are these concepts related to the three basic concepts themselves?

How is a walk related to I walk? High to height, etc.?

My suggestion, which is as simple as possible, is to use applied, itself:

  1. Applied properties of things
  2. Applied things of happening
  3. Applied properties of things of happening

So, with that in mind, what additional concepts are there?

The next concept requires an extra degree of abstraction:

Applied properties of applied things of happening:

  • E.g. the speed of the throw.

We then have three additional applied properties of some concepts of relative time and space:

  1. Applied properties of relative space
  • E.g. The temperature outside.
  1. Applied properties of comparative relative time
  • E.g. The temperature later.
  1. Applied properties of basic time*
  • E.g. The temperature today.

*There is a difference between this concept and that of early/late.  I’m not sure of how best to describe either (especially in relation to each other).  (Suggestions (on a postcard)/in the comments ;) )

The only other additional concept I can see being used, is a further additional applied properties of applied properties of things - e.g.:

  • the brightness of the colours

So, why is only applied things of happening used as noun?  Because no applied properties are used as objects of relative space, but are used as objects of relative amounts, though can be used as objects of relative time in a comparative manner?

So, now we know what concept game belongs to, we know what we need to study in order to figure out what it’s used to mean, both in isolation, and in relation to any/everything else.

How applied things of happening is structured, though, is what I’ll be looking at next.

----------------

EDIT: If you remember, I mentioned that it was possible to create a sentence without using any of the 4 basic concepts/types thereof or manners of use in the English language.

How?

Since we now recognise many aspects of relative time and space as being distinct concepts with their own manners of use, it is simple:

Outside is cold.


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