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7.4.2. Classification: Languaging Chunks


How To Invent (Almost) Anything > 7. How The Brain Works > 7.4. Classification: Making Sense of the World > 7.4.2. Classification: Languaging Chunks

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Words are perhaps the ultimate chunk, with each word representing a predefined chunk of experience. Words set us free but they also ultimately constrain our ability to communicate and describe the world around us.

Words helps us differentiate, sometimes in subtle ways, between chunks of information, and the language we use is indicative of our experience. For example, Eskimos have a number of different words to describe snow. There is also a native American tribe who have a single word for both ‘blue’ and ‘green’, and as a result of this is that they cannot distinguish between these two colours: they simply are seen as shades of the same colour.

When we experience something new, if we cannot describe it with words then we will have difficulty in making sense of it. Creating a new word is a significant event that effectively says, ‘This is so different and important, we need to mark its existence with a new symbol.’

Words are so important for describing, we even think with them. Our self-talk and dreams contain endless inner conversations as we ruminate about the world around us and plot how we might better cope with the outer confusion.

If our vocabulary is small or our ability to use words is limited, then this can also limit our ability to manipulate the verbal chunks that describe our experiences and hence constrain our ability to use them to create new combinations and concepts.


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