The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

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1I0'              THE HUMANITY OF WORDS
The hyphen is a simple but useful semantic device by which to show relatedness between various aspects of human behavior.
Again, if we will let this device get under our skins, the language system and the nervous system will be in accord with the stucture of things as they exist in nature. And, again, Korzybski says, this is essential to "sanity."
27. Quotes as a signal for attention to a word
Korzybski called quotes "danger signals" and their use a "safety device" equivalent to saying Don't speculate (or argue) on this term, it is " elementalistic" misleading, etc., and/or in general implies a structure not similar to the structure of the "territory." In speaking, Korzybski would raise his hands above his shoulders and crook his index fingers every time he wanted to call attention to a word for one reason or another. There are at least five good reasons for the use of quotes:
1. Perhaps we should use quotes on the silent level of inner experience for every word! This would insure consciousness of abstracting.
We know that every word is an abstraction, but we forget. We know that every word is a class word that abstracts (takes away from the whole object named) only the similarities of the class to which the object is ascribed and leaves out all of the differences. But we forget.
We forget that boyx is not boy2, etc.
We forget that Desk #157, Mahoganyi is not Desk #157, Mahogany^, etc.
Use quotes on the silent level of inner experience to insure consciousness of abstracting.