Posts by: Richard Wirick

Abstractless Codes: Non-generalised Speech and the Upending of Contemporary Linguistics

If language, and its representational or coding function, makes up the world, or if, as Wittgenstein said beautifully in his Tractatus, ‘Reality is the shadow of grammar,’ what kind of world would we have if we spoke a language that allowed of little or no abstraction, generalization, descriptions of the past or the future? A view of reality that is ‘intensely and only immediate’ seems puzzling and impractical. Yet there are Amazon tribes, notably the Piraha, who speak of and view their experience in just this way. If a man goes around a bend in the river, no observations about him can obtain except for xibipio—he has gone out of experience.’ They use the same phrase when a candle flame flickers—the light ‘goes in and out of experience.’

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