View Full Version : Meditation and Language

8th June 2000, 00:47
I was reading "Tao of Physics" by Fritjof Capra a while back, and it covers a great deal of ground. Some of the physics involved can be quite daunting (the Quantum Mechanics I covered in Environmental Chemistry stood me in good stead here!) but I feel he raises a number of good points regarding the usage of language to describe experiences that are not entirely physical - or at least are not perceivable by our physical senses..
The English language, as do most others I imagine, exists almost solely to describe the macroscopic physical world, thus resulting in Yes/No, Light/Dark dualism, when this is not always the case..
What I'm wondering is - What experiences do people here have with these limitations, and ways of overcoming them, and does anyone have experience with any language(s) which are less restricted than English in this regard?

Poetry of Birds,
A Thousand Voice Melody,
Dancing on the Waves
-- David Marshall

Joseph Svinth
8th June 2000, 09:06
Normally we borrow words. Thus Japanese speak of beisboru and werutu-ryu kyu (the latter meaning welterweight), and Americans speak of the Tao and gestalt and the big kahuna. When that fails, then we create them. Thus we have telephones and computers. A third alternative is nativism, which refers to making old words fit new concepts, which is sometimes okay but generally does nothing more than lead to such sillinesses as the German Fernsprecher (far-speaker) for Telefon. The Icelanders have this as law, they can't use any words that didn't exist in Norse, and women's lib and Communism are not concepts in Old Norse. Thus many Icelanders learn English, as when discussing nuclear physics Icelandic is really tedious. (Japanese sometimes use their English the same way, as when you want to say something directly, English often works than Japanese.)

That said, I think the problem is more one of fuzzy thinking combined with turgid writing rather than an actual failure of the language itself. ("What we have heah," Strother Martin tells Paul Newman in "Cool Hand Luke," "is failyuh to co-mmunicate.")