TED Conversations

Rainey Shelly

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Can we communicate without language? What's your definition about lanuage? Look forward to your precious ideas.

Hearing this, maybe some of you will bouce up, excitedly arguing with me over the question. you may say:"Without language, we can still communicate through sign lanuage, body gesture or eye contact." Yes, it's true. But have you thought of the definition of language? What if the "language" means all above?

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  • Sep 19 2011: Laughter is a language we all understand.
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    Sep 12 2011: I would not limit language to be a collection of words. Rather I see language as a way of organizing reality. Language can be spoken, written, sung, danced, drawn, programed, or whatever. Jazz express ideas, that are different than techno, and both of these have a different view of reality as a dada sculpture. Yet within each of these disciplines have there own ideas and limitations on the nature of reality. They all speak to a part of us.
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      Sep 12 2011: Thanks~ all humen beings' movements can act as language and can reflect the real world. But i think speech is the most effective way to convey imformation.
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        Sep 12 2011: Well speech is effective at transmitting certain ideas brain to brain. If you need to feedback on a project you are working on it would be silly to provide it via interpreted dance. At other time words fail us. Watching people body language is a much better indicator of who gets along, and how they get along than the language they use. Words divorced from bodies are hard to translate. Have you ever sent out or received an e mail or text where the message was lost due to one party not getting sarcasm, or irony. I have.
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          Sep 14 2011: I'm afraid I haven't experienced that .Whatever language you use, you have to interpret it in certain context
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        Sep 15 2011: We may be having a semantic difference. You ask wether we can communicate without language. I see all communication as language, and there are many different aspects of ourselves to share with others. Music is wonderful at communicating emotions. I am sure you feel different emotions in relations to different music. Everyone listening to the same music will have a similar emotional experience. How can that not be a form a communicating and hence a language. There syntactical rules (scales, majors notes, minor notes) which all must be followed in order not to be just noise, just as verbal language has grammatical rules with make it able to be understood.
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    Sep 12 2011: It's in the expression of our culture and arts, it's the language of our ideals.
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        Sep 13 2011: Yes Birdia it can. I'm actually pining for impactful expression of our universal ideals, ideals that transcends our limited perceptions. Ideals of freedom, justice and truth and our human power to care, hope and trust. I think this is one of the aim of our latest TED wish.

        I have to admit also that there are things that I still have to learn about art and I do appreciate your contribution in this area.
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        Sep 16 2011: Birdia, it seems that you have a unique understanding of art that I still have to learn, contemporary art in particular. I understand that art in itself is enough and perhaps it can be a neutral expression of something that could satisfy all its audience no matter what their perspective is, or not. So what to you is the purpose of art, if there is any?

        I apologize for somehow implying a totalitarian idea and I did not mean that art has to conform to what I'm describing as universal ideals, I only desire that the expression of art can perhaps help raise consciousness to our great aspirations like freedom itself.

        Your link is describing values of racial purity, militarism, and obedience and I think it's far from the ideals of freedom, justice and truth or our 'scientifically undefined' powers to care, hope and trust.
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    Sep 11 2011: It's a TRIP ABROAD that you take which enlightens you and makes you rediscover yourself and others. It frees you and gets you closer to the goal of understanding the world better. Personally for me MUSIC is that universal language we are all looking for to bring us closer to each other.
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      Sep 11 2011: Good idea! I believe there is something else bonding us togerter, such as MUSIC. Whatever country you are from, we can always share some kind of emotion or feeling. I'm a music lover, too.
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    Sep 12 2011: Anything that allows us to convey in any manner becomes a language so if there is no conveying, language won't be necessary. Its a cycle between conveying and understanding.
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      Sep 14 2011: Hi Sidharth! I'm quite agree with you. Cause we are humen beings not animals. We need to learn things by conveying rathen than instincts.
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        Sep 14 2011: Sorry but I got confused.. Am I right?
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          Sep 15 2011: :) Sidharth, I'm not a historian but I think your views on language are quite right. Since we human beings have unique consciousness that makes to think, to convey and communicate.
          What I mean is natural instincts makes ue have something to convey, and there language comes.
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        Sep 15 2011: Thank you the credit goes to my Psychology professor. And if you mean the origin of the languages and symbols? If yes I forgot the name for it pardon me for that and whenever you hear a number or even understand a number you brain forms a particular pattern even TED has a few talks regarding this. Those symbols make alphabets and numbers which were primitive age symbols during the evolution even now you can view minor changes and similarities in certain alphabets with other languages..
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    Sep 12 2011: Yes, we can communicate with each other without any language through gestures an signs, because across the entire world, sign language is understood by any one, it is a natural instinct and one does not need to learn but know it effortlessly. Humans are gifted with this natural language, when there was not any language like the present English or French etc. this language was prevalent to communicate with each other.
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      Sep 14 2011: Yeah, it surely is. :) But have you thought of the definition of LANGUAGE? I believe that gestures and signs are effective in conveying message. However, different countries have different culture and the same gesture may have different meaning. Besides, some symbols also make sense to our understanding.