Thursday, May 11, 2006

The future, what's that?

Many of my friends have argued that concepts may not be unthinkable even if something like NewSpeak, a hypothetical language imposed by the Party in George Orwell's "1984", became the norm. I never had a convincing answer for them, but given my inclination in favour of languages, I believed in it and in the following quote:
"That language is an instrument of human reason, and not merely a medium for the expression of thought, is a truth generally admitted."
- George Boole, quoted in Iverson's Turing Award Lecture

Well, today's NYTimes adds strength to my belief:
When asked if the Nukak were concerned about the future, Belisario, the only one in the group who had been to the outside world before and spoke Spanish, seemed perplexed, less by the word than by the concept. "The future," he said, "what's that?"


Blogger Ambar said...

I'm not sure what you mean by "unthinkable" here.

But if we were to adopt something like NewSpeak, and its associated contradictory axioms (like doublethink), it just might end up making it very hard to express concepts, and consequently, hamper one's ability to think in those terms.

May 16, 2006 4:08 PM  
Blogger Sundar said...

Well, if not "unthinkable", at least, NewSpeak avoids people from getting the thought i.e. nobody is led to the thought "naturally." It's just a conjecture, though.

May 16, 2006 6:07 PM  
Blogger Kingsley said...

OT: Did you hear about the indus script found in TamilNadu? I'd love to pick your brains on that. I'm thinking it probably deserves a WikiNews article.

kingsleyj [at] gmail dot com

May 21, 2006 5:04 AM  

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