Opinion | Reflecting on the construction of reality and relationships through with language
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 02:10
In today’s modern world the ideas of reality and realness are at the forefront of many discussions.
With the evolution of technologies and the globalization of much of the world the way in which we obtain information has ultimately changed.
Tools like the Internet and television often provide us with multitude of information, which lies outside the normal realm of experience. When that much of the information we obtain is from external sources, it is pertinent to begin to question the basis of our own realities, as well as the amount of realness. How exactly then do we construct our own realities?
We can begin by looking at the use of language and its relationship to ourselves. Here we can use the Whorfian Theory of as a demonstration of this relationship.
Within the Whorfian theory, the idea of linguistics plays a large role in the construction of a reality based within the confines of a given set of parameters, mostly dealing with the ideas of language and vernacular.
Reality is constructed by a person based upon certain cognitive relationships inherent in the language used, as well as on the definitions associated within the context of that language.
We see this in the core of the way in which we interpret the linguistics of the English language. For every word we use in the language there is a directed meaning that is associated with it.
For instance a pen is only a pen, and as such called a pen when it meets a specific set of requirements.
A base set of rules can be derived from use first and then experience, so that a pen must use ink and be handheld and only draws on a certain medium. In these characteristics, meaning becomes the derivative element, as such that the pen is only a pen and has meaning as a pen when it meets these criteria.
All reality is then based upon the meanings associated within the language used by both the person and the community. Thus the reality that is constructed is not one of the individual but rather of the language itself.
We interpret, translate and then manifest the “meanings” of language into the physical world (or believed physical realm), while physical control and construction reside within our own sphere of control.
This manifestation of “reality” is not that of the person, or even the collective, but rather the language; and is then reflected in all the creations of them.
Again we can turn to the pen for insight here. A pen, being called a pen since it falls under the set characteristics, is agreed upon by the community for its value.
However, the active construction and reaction which is done in real world time is always in response to the terminology and meaning of the pen and not the physical object.
Certain modes of conveyance, or drawing, are determined to be better suited for the pen, while others are not.
Similarly the pen is modified to meet new requirements and even the techniques of use revolve around the meaning contained within the pen.
Every change and every improvement, along with every act, respond directly to the meaning behind the pen.
In getting back to the original question of constructing realities in a modern globalized world, a shift in the way in which interpreted meaning becomes associated with the language itself, primarily through experience.
Language is always a diffused element, meaning that it is absorbed and accepted (or questioned) through the experiences we have.
From birth we are taught what each word means and what it is associated with it, thus by experiencing it we learn the meaning behind it.
For instance if we compare the way a toddler experiences a new element and the way in which a middle age person experiences we see the same cognitive relationships associated with the event, but executed through differing perspectives.
First the child often experiences first hand, being shown symbols and told what it is and what constitutes it.
Likewise the adult is shown the same thing, a picture of the event or element and then is told who or what it is. In each new experience the reality of the person shifts to accommodate the new experience.
So, much like the children we teach, we are continuously constructing realty every day through the new amount of information and experiences that are provided to us.
The way in which we experience has changed, but the act of experiencing remains the same, it has simply afforded us a larger viewpoint.
Contained within this act is the essence of how we build our own realities based upon the language we choose, both individually and socially, and how they affect one another.