Stefan Cairn and Roger RoyHonors SeminarFebruary 17, 1999CHAOS AND THE ENGLISH LANGUAGEThroughout my life I have not yet witnessed anything that has given me an intellectual challenge so I do not bother to try. Well this course has given me that challenge I have been looking for and I had to narrow my topic down from one of many to just one. Since I am good at mathematics and have not tried at that since second grade I decided not to go that way, as I said before I wanted a challenge. I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could arise to the occasion, no pun intended. I looked back at all the subjects I had trouble with, which was not many, and chose English.
My skills in English have yet to be mastered and it is not one of my favorite subjects so I do not even bother with it. I am off to try and prove that language is chaotic and will use the English language along with the other few languages I know. This will not only be interesting for you but it will be interesting for me as well. Throughout many years of my life I have taken languages as courses. I was fortunate and got French offered to me in the sixth grade and learned to hate it in high school and then took Latin. Latin is where I was I taught that English was a hyped up version of Latin.
I know what you are thinking now. . . YOURE WRONG!! Well maybe I am and maybe I am not. The word agriculture comes from the Latin word agricola and the word paternal come from the Latin word pater. Agricola means farm as I recall and pater means father.
There are many words in the English language that come from Latin roots and I will definitely not go into all of them. What I am trying to get is how in the hell do you come up with some of these words in the English language or how in the hell do you define one word if you just started out with that one word. For example the word is-the verb to be. How in Gods creation can you define one word with two words? Then if you have those two words you have to go to the words defining them.
The word to has not one definition but twenty-one and the word be has eleven. Now how can you define a simple two letter word with many more and why would you want to define such a petty word. There are so many examples of the chaos in the English language that I wouldnt know where to begin, but I will try to think of something. A good example of the chaos in English can come from the word good. Think about how many words can or do mean good or are just synonyms of the word. Some words for good received from the thesaurus: excellent, better, high quality, and so on.
Now add a word in front of good, something like very, and you have very good. Maybe George Orwell would go the 1984 way and say ungood. Then theres very well and well and so many more. Some more examples of this chaos are the words used for destruction.
Many words are used to describe degrees of destruction like devastate, annihilate, or obliterate. To find example of the chaos in English just go to the thesaurus and make a web of words. Just the immense size of this web and the interweaving pattern is phenomenal. Thus far in this argument I have given the fact that we define words in the English language and that all of these words come from Latin roots or some other past language like German or any other non romantic language.
I have net presented an argument on how language is chaotic for it is only a bunch of symbols put together so that we may understand them. No matter what way you look at it they are only symbols though we call them letters and think ourselves more intelligent than the past cultures. I think the language has remained the same though the symbols have changed from hieroglyphics to modern day letters. We went from talking with grunts and groans to talking with words but still we able to communicate in the same way as we always have.
Today we add a new word to our vocabulary by using a combination of old words and putting them together. We add a letter here and take a few out there and we have a new word. We went from having a few pages in a dictionary to having thousands upon thousands of pages in the tiniest print size possible. There are so many words that we do not know what to do with them.
We started with that one word, I have no idea what it is and I am sure no one else does, and built upon that. If you can imagine that one word as the focal point for this fractal you can see the image expanding out and never-ending. The only difference about this fractal is you may think there is no boundary but if you think hard about it you can see there is one. No matter how many words we add to this language or any other they still end up meaning the same thing just using different symbols and varying out uses of the words. Rather than saying I feel really good we say I feel great but yet it still means the same. The English language presents a fractal but no one has yet noticed it or has not said anything and I want to be the first one to say something about it.