What is Language?

Posted: July 10, 2013 at 10:22 am

I think language begins with the ability to perceive two sensory patterns that are different (because they are always different) as the same. I think of this as a clustering process, the carving of chunks from a continuous space. It’s a choice of saying these are the same, when the aren’t. It’s an imposition of a compartmentalized structure (concept) on continuous chaos (reality). This could be seen as a filtering process.

These (prelinguistic) clusters at the atoms of perception. We build the perceptual world from these chunks of assumed sameness. These chunks are also the material from which we learn predictions of the world, we learn constraints and periodicity by predicting the occurrence of these clusters.

linguistic symbols are build up layer by layer of these clusters, forming meta-clusters that hold abstract notions such as “object”. Additionally, the notions such as causality, justice, good and evil all result from abstractions of the predictions (via a similar clustering process) combined with emotional valence. I think this is pretty close to Barsalou.