The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

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86                  THE HUMANITY OF WORDS
date his profit-and-loss sheet, the way the nurse can date her chart, the way the lawyer can date his facts. But if we will let the idea of constant transformation get under our skins, as Korzybski suggests, it will work for us on the
unconscious as well as the conscious level.
The semantic device of dating reminds the user of words
that "permanence" is just one way of "looking" at things. It keeps us alerted to change when change may be important to our interests.
The relevance of this to the communication process is immediately apparent. The static way of looking at people and things puts us out of step with the process world, as Korzybski points out. When we assume that nothing has changed and nothing will change, we stand as still as the process world will let us while transformation takes place all around us. The result is that we are jarred every time something unexpected happens. We are pushed; we are thrown off balance. And we are incapable of making the necessary adjustments in our use of words toward the accomplishment of goals.
The unexpected is one of the natural hazards of living. For all of us, any radical change from familiar surroundings or circumstances is likely to be disturbing. Even little things may agitate us. To the person who is accustomed to sitting behind a desk, a sudden shift in position to the front of someone else's desk may make his collar wilt and his voice quaver. And yet it is the unexpectedthe unpre-dictedthat is informative! When the expectedthe predictedhappens, this adds nothing to what we already know.1* For this reason, it is imperative that the communi-
18 See Shannon and Weaver, The Mathematical Theory of Communication, p. 103.