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Four types of linguistic activities

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Classification of languages by these two parameters of abstraction anf formalization leads to the following four types of language-related activities [Tur77].

~              Concrete language        Abstract language
Unformalized         Art                   Philosophy
Formalized         Descriptive              Theoretical 
language           sciences                 sciences,
~                                           mathematics

Art is characterized by unformalized and concrete language. Words and language elements of other types are important only as symbols which evoke definite complexes of mental images and emotions. Philosophy is characterized by abstract informal thinking. The combination of high-level abstract constructs used in philosophy with a low degree of formalization requires great effort by the intuition and makes philosophical language the most difficult type of the four. Philosophy borders with art when it uses artistic images to stimulate the intuition. It borders with theoretical science when it develops conceptual frameworks to be used in construction of formal scientific theories. The language of descriptive science must be concrete and precise; formalization of syntax by itself does not play a large part, but rather acts as a criterion of the precision of semantics.

Copyright© 1991 Principia Cybernetica - Referencing this page

V. Turchin,

Sep 1991


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