Deconstructing language

Once a person has learned a couple or more languages, it becomes obvious that there is a differnce between reality and its symbolic representation. In my case there was the additional realization, eventually, that some symbols simply do not translate easily inside my brain. This accounted, I think, for why, no matter how much effort I expended, I never could relate the notations in a musical score to a particular musical sound or piano key. So, I never learned how to play the piano any better than a hunt and peck typist uses a typewriter. But I did learn that practice does not make perfect.

The same impediment surfaced when I came to the cyrilic alphabet used by Russians. I didn’t have any trouble pronouncing and remembering the words, but relating the symbols on the page to them proved an impediment. It isn’t just that the words do not become recognizable units. The relationship between individual symbols and the sounds they represent keeps having to be refreshed even now.

None of this is necessarily a negative. Indeed, I might even argue that these impediments make me more linguistically aware, not just of the difference between the reality and the symbol, but of the fact that the written language presents a different reality than the spoken word. And it is not just that the meaning and content of the spoken word is much greater than what we read. Perhaps it is just the difference between what I would sound out on the piano keys and what a piano prodigy can release.

Anyway, I am not sure how the above is related, but it seems to lead me to a deconstruction of the phrases “false attribution of agency” and “self-fulfilling prophecy.” False attribution of agency is a well known logical fallacy. What I did not realize is that it is complete as stated. There is no need to interpolate either an object or a subject. The phrase does not refer to either the actor or the thing acted upon being mistaken. It isn’t the agent that is false; it is that attributes or characteristics of actions are mistaken for acts. In other words, there is a semblance of agency or acts, but no action. Taking the intent for the act is another way of putting it.

How does it happen that action is attributed even though there is no action? I suspect it is because it is difficult to even imagine living organisms doing nothing. And yet, that is what the all talk, no action people are about. We don’t see it because we constantly looking for them to be doing something. Perhaps it is like the predator being cued to motion. What does not move is not noticed and, ipss facto, not chased and captured.

“Self-fulfilling prophecy” is another phrase that is self-contained. The content or subject of the prophecy is irrelevant, regardless of the eventual outcome of events. Similarly, those with whom the prophecy is shared are irrelevant. Prophesying (predicting the future), regardless of whether subsequent events validate the prediction, is self-fulfilling because it satisfies or gratifies the self in giving form to one’s inclinations and aspirations.

Does it matter whether the prophesy is realized by subsequent events? Not really. Prophesying is its own reward. Self-gratfication. Why is it frowned upon by the arbiters of socially acceptable behavior? Because, if individuals find contentment within themselves, they are almost impossible to manipulate.