Archive for the ‘Discourse’ Category

Speak, Listen, Write, and Read

December 3, 2017

Here’s another simple fourfold and maybe sixfold.

Speaking, Listening, Writing, and Reading are commonly presented together in elementary education as interrelated language skills. One is speaking for a listener and one is writing for a reader. One is listening to a speaker and one is reading a writer.

In the computer age another pair needs to be mentioned, that of programming for computers and the execution or running of that code by the computer. In a way, this new pair doesn’t fit, since one is writing code for computers, not people. And the execution of the program is not performed by a person, but by a computer.

(That’s not entirely true. Programs are also written for other human programmers in mind so that they can debug or maintain or modify the code if the original programmer isn’t available. Structured programming is one method to simplify the logical organization of the program so that others can comprehend it more readily. Object oriented programming is another method to allow multiple programmers to work independently without conflict.)

  • Speak – Listen
  • Write – Read
  • Program – Execute

But perhaps there is a different way to understand these duals. A speaker understands that a listener is following their speech by their response. A writer understands that a reader is comprehending their writing by their response. A programmer understands that a computer is ‘understanding’ the code by its response or output when the program is run.

Also, one can consider speech and writing to be encodings of thoughts into physical representations, and listening and reading to be decoding of the representations back into thoughts. Running or executing a program is not really decoding, or is it? But it is something like processing the speech or writing, like a computer is processing the program.

One might say that listening and reading are like processing the speech and text as programs on the computer of our brains. They are normally thought to be processed as data, as in Natural Language Processing, but it is an interesting twist if one considers them as programs. (Actually, I just recalled that the 1992 science-fiction novel “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson used this notion.)

To program effectively the programmer must execute their code in their mind, at least piecemeal and partially, just as a speaker or a writer must listen as they speak and read over what they have written. They can’t understand the full effect of the program’s execution, especially once the program becomes larger than a few statements, just as the full effect of speech or writing that is being processed by another person cannot be completely understood.

Not considered are computers themselves writing programs for other computers to “read” or execute. As the science of artificial intelligence becomes mature, computers writing and reading among themselves may become a common thing. Wasn’t there a news article about that recently? They pulled the plug on that pretty fast.

As digital assistants become more ubiquitous, they are fully participating in our language games of speaking, listening, writing, and reading. Will these so-called virtual assistants program for us next, as in Automatic Programming? That day may already be here.

Further Reading:

https://www.englishclub.com/learn-english/language-skills.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_language_processing

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/06/artificial-intelligence-develops-its-own-non-human-language/530436/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_programming

N. Katherine Hayles / My Mother was a Computer: digital subjects and literary texts

Neal Stephenson / Snow Crash

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_assistant_(artificial_intelligence)

Images:

https://www.google.com/search?q=speak+listen+write+read&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi14LrrsarXAhUG6CYKHaugBH4QsAQIVQ

[*9.50, *10.36, *10.46]

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Modal Verbs

September 23, 2013

modal_verbsThis fourfold of modal verbs was mentioned in an earlier post A Story for Everyone, but was not shown explicitly. It consists of can, may, must, and should.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modal_verb

[*6.6, *6.36,*6.60, *7.188]

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Lacan’s Four Discourses, V2

July 11, 2013

lacan3

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_discourses

http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/random-thoughts-on-lacanian-discourse-theory-dejan-as-analyst/

[*6.118, *7.50, *7.51]

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Things, Thoughts, Words, and Actions

June 6, 2013

things_thoughts_words_actionsHere are some additional fourfolds from philosopher Richard McKeon.

McKeon wrote much on the subject of rhetoric. A favorite fourfold of concepts was that of Things, Thoughts, Words, and Actions. He called these “commonplaces of inquiry” or “places of invention and memory”. Two rhetorical devices he used were amplification and schematization. Amplification can extend the scope of, for example, words to the other three, similar to the principle of indifference. “Objectivity is the inclusive principle of indifference by which it is recognized that being is grasped only in what we think, and say, and do about it.” [1] Schematization was used to identify and distiguish, for example, commonplaces. Thus I think amplification is a conjunctive device, and schematization is a disjunctive device.

topics_themes_theses_hypotheses

Another fourfold of subjects by McKeon was Topics, Themes, Theses, and Hypotheses. McKeon wrote, “Speculation concerning discourse must avoid the fixities of categories, doctrines, methods, and assumptions which discourse assumes in any one form of philosophy or inquiry, if it is to include all the forms which discourse takes in philosophy and in inquiry, action, and production. This is possible because the variety of categories or elements is approached in discourse by way of common topics or ‘commonplaces’; the variety of facts or statements of what is the case by way of common hypotheses; the variety of arts or methods of treating problems by way of common themes; and the variety of assumptions or principles by way of common theses.” [2]

Are both these fourfolds aligned correctly with the previous Knowable, Knowledge, Known, and Knower? McKeon’s use of terms in his rhetoric was very fluid, perhaps to prevent systemization or to promote pluralism. However, his main reference to fourfolds was Aristotle’s four scientific questions, or Four Causes, which we can use to try to understand his fourfolds.

References:

Theresa Enos (ed.) / Encyclopedia of Rhetoric and Composition: Communication from Ancient Times to the Information Age

[1] Richard McKeon / Selected Writings of Richard McKeon: Volume One: Philosophy, Science, and Culture

[2] Richard McKeon / Selected Writings of Richard McKeon, Volume Two: Culture, Education, and the Arts

http://www.richardmckeon.org/content/a-Content-Update_b/McKNotes-Semantics&Inquiry_Intro.pdf

H. L. Ulman / Things, Thoughts, Words, and Actions: the problem of language in late Eighteenth-Century British rhetorical theory

[*5.197, *6.140, *7.162, *7.165]

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