The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

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KORZYBSKI                                      89
The common noun Is, of course, a class word. The word "boy," for Instance, includes within its meaning only the similarities of the class of boys.
When we index the class word "boy"boy1the word points to the similarities of the class It represents, the index points to the differences left outto the differences in this particular member of the class of boys.
Our language system makes It Impossible for us to describe the absolute uniqueness of anything.
The word "boy" can't tell you a single thing about any boy in the world that is different from any other boy in the world. The word "boy" Is a label, to use Korzybski's term, that can be put on any boy. The meaning of the word Includes only what is common to every boy In the world. The word "boy" tells us that the object it stands for is a male human being within a certain age group. And that is all. To put this Into the language of Korzybskl, the word abstracts (takes away) from the whole object (this boy I can point to) only the similarities of all boysand leaves out all of the differences.
If I begin to tell you about my boy so that you will know he is different from yours, I can use a lot of words. I can say, for instance, He's mischievous but lovable. He's clever with his hands but slow with books, especially English. He's good-looking in a boyish waywide-open inquiring gray eyes and a good forehead. Thin as a rail, but strong. And agile as a cat
You begin to "see" my boy, and you know right away that he Is different from yours. Mine, you will say, is roundish and slow; not so good with his hands, except when he draws. His eyes are brown and deep-set, and his