David Amerland
Words, how we use them and the effect they have on our cognitive and affective sides

Words

When Queen Elizabeth I gave the speech that changed the course of history she stamped into our minds the power of words to change how we feel, think and act.

When it comes to understanding how mere words can have such an impact it is worth remembering what words are actually supposed to be: a code. A symbolic representation of the external and internal world and how the two mix. Linguists still struggle to come up with a definition that satisfies everyone. Neuroscientists know that it takes the whole brain to properly understand the meaning of a single word. Platonists understand the importance of semantic theory when it comes to word meanings and Chris Medina knows enough to want us all to stand by what we say to each other.

Words then, whether written or spoken, are a code that’s been run through a filter. In the case of writing, that filter is the author. In the case of a rousing speech, like Queen Elizabeth I’s the filter is the leader of the moment.

Gregory Trencher says the code, the software, tells the hardware how to behave. Google, uses its data to better understand the human OS in terms of branding and Jasmine Roberts discusses virtual humans in augmented and virtual environments.

Code runs in operating systems to activate specific functions that either augment or enable specific hardware capabilities. Damon Horowitz discusses whether the code that runs is needs to be tweaked to make us moral.

Before we even get to that point however it’s worth noting that embodiment theory shows how language and emotion affect each other. And because language and emotion affect each other “a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.”

Language influences emotion to such an extent that if we don’t have a word for something we cannot feel for it. If we don’t have a word for something we cannot describe it. If we cannot describe something we cannot conceive it. If we cannot conceive something it remains invisible, hidden from us and our perception.

Things hidden from our perception create holes of awareness of our world. Our awareness of the world determines our plans that guide our actions which define our capabilities. This makes “No” the most dangerous word in the dictionary.

We are at that stage of the game now. Scientific thinking is asked of us because the things we have to deal with require a deeper understanding of complexity.

If we fail to find the words we will never understand what it is we need to strive for. Find the words. We all have to.

So, coffee then. Lots of it. Something sweet. And lots of thinking time. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.

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