Thinking Outside the Known Words

Subjectivity is a hard nut to crack for anyone interested in understanding the universe. Looking for answers to the ultimate questions we always end up with a certain amount of uncertainty because in the end we don’t know if we can trust ourselves. Maybe, we muse, our subjectivity clouds our judgment. Maybe our thoughts create the box that shapes our worldview. Maybe our language defines a preset limitation on understanding.

I don’t have the answer, but I’m gonna conduct a thought experiment to illustrate the fact that we actually have a box and how we can try to view the box from outside whether or not it is actually possible to step outside of it. Here follows, in random order, a number of thoughts on the connection between thought and words and thought and words-that-are-not.

What are the spaces between a comb’s teeth called?

Imagine a new word. Let’s call it fital. The word is a fusion between final and total. Is the meaning of this word readily available to even though the word does not exist at the moment? Let’s investigate its meaning. Final means the last moment in time in its context. Total is either the gross or net product regardless of the temporal aspect. Let’s use it in a sentence. The were three dead in fital, meaning that in the end there were three dead in total. This might be a redundant concept. It might also be simply superimposing the word final on the grammatical structure of the idiom in total. Or is it a new concept?

What is the name for the hair on your index finger?

In Swedish, if something happened yesterday one says “igår [something happened]” and if something happened the day before yesterday one says “i förrgår [something happened]”. Some people even say “i förrgårsgår” instead of three days ago. The interesting thing about this is that there is no rule for numbering days further back in time. We can compare this to math. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven and twelve all have their own names, but after that new numbers follow a certain pattern. Threeten, fourten, fiveten, sixten, seventen, eightten, nineten, twoenty, twoentyone, twoentytwo and so on. We could apply the same pattern to yesterday. Twoyesterday, threeyesterday, fouryesterday, or to simplify pronunciation, Twesterday. thresterday, foursterday. Are we outside the box though?

Pigs are to pork what storks are to…?

If two people do something together, intending to further and succeeding in furthering each other’s efforts, they work in tandem, symbiosis, in unison. If their success is still unknown they can be said to work towards a common goal or being partners. If they try to sabotage their joint project we call them parasites or a destructive collaboration. If one only one of them is adding to the work effort or if only is sabotaging or if one is contributing and the other is sabotaging, they’re at odds with each other, they work against each other. The three different scenarios in the last sentence might not each have a unique description. How many more scenarios are beyond our language? How many more scenarios are consequently beyond our comprehension, if any? Can we even guess at how much we don’t know?

What do you call an underprivileged child justifying theft from a privileged child?


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