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lessdazed comments on Disputing Definitions - Less Wrong

48 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 12 February 2008 12:15AM

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Comment author: lessdazed 15 August 2011 10:16:48AM *  1 point [-]

Let's discuss partial solutions.

Suppose you and random other English speakers were abducted by aliens and accelerating out of the solar system on their ship. You strongly suspect you will never be able to go back, and get to work on building a new society.

You are the smartest person in the group and convince everyone that language is important. They agree to reform the language, but aren't capable of constructing or learning a new one, and aren't interested in teaching their children one. What simple reforms might be a good idea?

I can suggest some:

It will no longer be correct to say that something is (a color or similar property). One must say it "seems" a color, as well as to whom. Not "Snow is white", rather, "Snow seems white to me".

"Rationalize" will be replaced by a word with a different root.

Comment author: PetjaY 03 May 2015 09:51:32AM 0 points [-]

"It will no longer be correct to say that something is (a color or similar property). One must say it "seems" a color, as well as to whom. Not "Snow is white", rather, "Snow seems white to me"."

I´d say this is not needed, when people say "Snow is white" we know that it really means "Snow seems white to me", so saying it as "Snow seems white to me" adds length without adding information.

My first fixes to english would be to unite spoken and written english with same letters always meaning same sounds, and getting rid of adding "the" to places where it does not add information (where sentence would mean same even without "the").

Comment author: Kindly 03 May 2015 04:49:15PM 1 point [-]

I´d say this is not needed, when people say "Snow is white" we know that it really means "Snow seems white to me", so saying it as "Snow seems white to me" adds length without adding information.

Ah, but imagine we're all-powerful reformists that can change absolutely anything! In that case, we can add a really simple verb that means "seems-to-me" (let's say "smee" for short) and then ask people to say "Snow smee white".

Of course, this doesn't make sense unless we provide alternatives. For instance, "er" for "I have heard that", as in "Snow er white, though I haven't seen it myself" or "The dress er gold, but smee blue."

Comment author: TheOtherDave 03 May 2015 08:55:41PM 1 point [-]
Comment author: Jiro 03 May 2015 09:46:24PM 1 point [-]

It isn't possible for someone to consistently assert "X is true, but X doesn't seem true to me". And it isn't possible for someone to consistently assert "X seems true to me, but X is false". [1] So even though "seems to me" and "is" are not logically the same thing, no human being can separate them and we have no need for a special word to make it convenient to separate them.

[1] Of course they can assert that if we use a secondary meaning for 'seems' such as "superficially appears to be", but that's not the meaning of 'seems' in question here.

Comment author: ChristianKl 03 May 2015 11:13:19PM 0 points [-]

A quarter of the worlds languages mark evidentiality at a grammer level. Indo-European languages like English don't do this but other languages do.