Alexandre Ait-Ettajer, Minh Duc, Thomas Vincent
Feb 22, 2017 - Mar 2, 2017
WOK Badge: Language
TOK Project: Test friends on if they can see past the ambiguity of a sentence.
For our project we took four sentences, and asked our relatives and friends to determine a meaning. No one was able to find a single meaning that was absolutely correct and this is because there was not a single meaning that was correct due to the ambiguity of language. Our hypothesis when starting was that Language was not truly creative and open-ended, solely rule governed.
What did you learn today about your TOK?
Today I learned several things about Language. Most importantly is the concept that if something can not be expressed through language, can it be considered knowledge?
This question has interesting implications on the realm of knowledge. It is possible that emotions are not knowledge if this is true.
Often when I think of language, I only think of it as a tool of expressing knowledge, never of learning or analyzing knowledge. However it does shape the way we know things. I am sure that research has been done that proves that the structure of a normal English sentence affects our culture and thought process. This is what most likely causes cultures across the world to be so radically different. We process ideas in different orders, so we naturally assign different values, and end up with different end decisions.
My goal for this project is to understand how Language affects Knowledge, but I first want to see what Language in this context is truly defined as.
2/24/17 Elective Journal:
For my elective journal I watched RSA ANIMATE: Language as a Window into Human Nature. This animated video discusses the differences between mutual knowledge and individual knowledge. It describes mutual knowledge as a person A and a person B both knowing X as well as knowing that the other knew X as well as knowing that the other knew that they knew X, and so on. Individual knowledge is when A knows X and B knows X, but due to implicit language, it is impossible to tell if the other truly knows X as well, and so the entirety of that chain is stopped at the beginning. A main part of the video is spent talking about how this plays into flirting, for example. Sexual innuendos aren't viewed as poorly as sexual comments, and this is because the two in the relationship may know exactly what the innuendo means, but due to doubt, they can never truly know if the other know what the innuendo means.
This means that the less surface level ambiguity a comments provides, the more explicit it will be, and the more likely it is that that piece of knowledge will become mutual knowledge instead of solely individual knowledge. In this way language shapes our knowledge because no other form of knowing provides a way for someone to create a barrier between shared and personal knowledge so easily.
3/2/17 Reflective Journal:
Today in class we presented and I noticed a couple things:
First was that we didn't prepare well enough for connecting our WOK to a previous WOK. We had originally decided to connect Language with Sense Perception because it seemed clear to us that both were steeped in ambiguity; however, when we were presenting and speaking on the subject, it became increasingly clear that we only had a surface level connection, and no true connection. If we had a better connection the presentation would have felt more coherent, and would have been better understood by the class.
Second was that we did a good job on time. Many groups in our class consistently hit the seven minute mark, going over time. We did a great job at making sure we were solidly in the 4-7 minute range which made sure that we didn't have too much or too little information in our presentation.
Third was that I felt our examples were a little redundant. I think we should have done two examples and then moved on to a different point in order to truly flesh out all of the ideas we had while thinking of the presentation. Two sentences would have easily shown what we wanted to say about Language in general, leaving us with more time to talk about our connection to the previous WOK or attempt to address the original knowledge question of "How does Language shape knowledge".
1. How does language affect our thought process?
2. How does language change our daily lives?
3. Could a small change in Language change the world?
Essential Question: Can anything rule-governed be open-ended and creative?
This question is what we tried to answer in our presentation, but it would be helpful for future groups to think on as well. One of the axioms of the chapter is that language is rule governed, open ended, and creative; if a student does not first come to research and understand that, it is hard to move forward in the chapter.
A good source would be: Mark Pagel: How Language Transformed Humanity. It addresses one of the important starting questions of our chapter, "is language important to knowing?".