chapter  7
16 Pages

Ways of Talking about Things

Ways of talking about something that far transcend any individual languages are exemplified by sciences, religions such as Christianity or Islam, or political philosophies such as Marxism. In the reality-construction view of language, the whole of human language is seen as composed of ways of talking about things. The reality-construction view, with its key concept of subject-matter-consecrated ways of talking, suggests a number of apparent consequences. The supposed virtues of increasing the size of one's vocabulary are really virtues of expanding one's repertoire of ways of talking about things, that is to say, the virtues of a richer conceptual world. The assignment of signantia to conceptual elements marks the inception of public knowledge that is shared ontologies. Finally, the concept of ways of talking about things helps to clear up another puzzling phenomenon, that of convergent development between languages, or at least the non-phonological aspects of convergence.