TED Conversations

Dhruba RC

This conversation is closed.

'un'Imaginative Dictionary?

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Guy Laramee for my latest venture on web. He is known widely for his book art but also he is an interdisciplinary artist who undertook anthropological studies.
Guy said that in one of his journeys to Peruvian amazon, he found out that the Shipibos don't have a word for 'imagination'. For them everything that they can perceive is true / real.

It got me thinking. Is it really necessary to have a word for imagination to support an atmosphere that fosters creativity? What is the level of ingenuity being shown by such cultures/tribes in their daily lives or in specifically designed "in vitro" experiments? Or is it that the language which expresses the collective knowledge of the people speaking it is a true reflection of their 'creative' being as well?

He goes on to say that they believe any creative act is spurred by some outside factor, and that they don't play any part in the process. While an outside "locus of control" may often be cited as a reflection of poor belief in self, but is it really true for any and every population that mirrors the Shipibos in this respect?

What is your feeling in this respect? Does a rich language reflect the richness of the creative endeavours in a population?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Oct 26 2012: Hi Fritzie, thanks for the comment!
    A rich language should be able to express the different moods and emotions which may well be attributed to stemming from a single causal factor but by means of different words / phrases. For even a subtle difference should be critically expressed without any compromises because of lack of suitable words / phrases. If many ideas are being expressed via "same label" then certainly the basic necessity of distinguishing them by means of spoken or written language is missing; I cannot claim my thought process to be unique than my peers' or forefathers' if I am not able to help others understand it by means of language. Language evolves and Erez Lieberman Aiden & Jean-Baptiste Michel showed us one very evocative example of that.
    I did not say the lack of the word 'Imagination' means it is a poor language but if curiosity and imagination are the starting points in innovation then where do they fall in this landscape. Do they not innovate, find solutions to their everyday issues or adopt themselves to changes? Of course they do and nobody is helping them in figuring out how but the one difference is in perception, between someone like me and them.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.