The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

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KORZYBSK1                                      85
municate processand change. This is not easy. Our words can stop process very like a stop watch. The sign "Fresh Eggs" Is such a stopper, as most of us have learned the hard way. In order to put time into that sign, we would havfe to clock each egg from its birthday to the frying pan. When did you get these eggs? is a sensible question. But even this won't help much. When were they laid? And How long were they en route? And Were they refrigerated? The grocer would probably walk awaybackwardsif wre used this line of questioning.
Process is, of course, most significant when we think or talk about people. All too often we talk about a person or an incidenta happening in which people are involved without regard to process and changes in time. We freeze human behaviorlike a photo finish. The human being livesand acts and moves and changes. He is never twice the same. But all this we stop, as effectively as rigor mortis. We describe John Jones in stop-watch language. He is "lazy" or "industrious"; a "shmo" or a "brain"; "shady" or "honest"; etc. If we would date these statements and keep them open-end for a fresh look tomorrow, these words would become legitimate appraisors that express someone's opinionat a date. But we are not careful about this, and "the word" is passedJohn is "lazy" last year, now, and into eternity.
If we date John at any moment in his life, we shatter the "permanence" of the judgment; we keep it open-end and subject to change.
The habit of dating ideas, experiments, etc., is custom to the scientist. The habit of dating reports, charts, etc., is custom to the business or professional man. Obviously, we cannot date our words the way the businessman can