The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

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90                    THE HUMANITY OF WORDS
hair has a way of coming down into his eyes. Not so good-looking, but affectionate and considerate . . . And you can go on and on.
Both of us have used words, many of them, but both of us know that if we used all the words in the dictionary and invented a few more to describe one particular boy, we could never get to the absolute uniqueness of that boy. Look at the words you and I have used to describe our boys:
mischievous             books                            roundish
lovable                    good-looking                 eyes
clever                      boyish                           brown
hands                      agile                              thin
slow                        cat                                strong
Every one of these words is a class word. Thin? How is one thin boy different from another thin boy? The word won't tell you. Agile? How is one agile boy different from another agile boy? The word won't tell you. Eyes? Everyone has eyes. Gray eyes? How is one pair different from another? The words won't tell you. All that a word can doany wordis to include in its meaning only the similarities of the class that it represents. It must leave out all of the differences.
This is the way with words, and we can't get around it:
Boy* is not boy2» etc.
Agile boyi is not agile boy2, etc.
Gray-eyed agile boyi is not gray-eyed agile boy2, etc.
The word points to the similarities of the class; the index points to the differences left out. Here, the index reminds us that no two persons in the whole wide world are exactly alike. There are similarities, of course, but, as Korzybski puts it, no identityno " 'abolute sameness' in