Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Belief That Language Distorts (Thinking About) Reality

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 445):
This belief in the distorting effect of language was propounded by the early European humanists, who held that mediæval scholars had focussed too strongly on language, whereas the real task of the scientist was to see through the verbal disguise and penetrate the reality underneath (for example, Francis Bacon’s well-known warnings against the seductive power of natural language). Natural languages were considered to be inadequate vehicles for the new scientific knowledge; hence it was necessary to construct artificial languages to record, transmit and extend it. These artificial languages would, it was thought, be more in harmony with the objective world of experience.