Can language describe everything?

Yes, yes, i need help answering this question, any opinions would be appreciated. Google’s like piloting a brick -.-" [size=67] please excuse the spam of my classmates… they know not what they do…[/size]

My thinking so far

Lets first say language is a single, human language. Lets next say that everything is indeed EVERYTHING, every aspect of every thing.

Lets take english for example. Now say we were trying to describe a song. You can use descriptive language, numbers, words to describe the flow and rhythm etc, but could you ever actually convey the true beauty of the song? It’s like having the ingrediants lined up and trying to convey the taste of the cake in my opinion.

Now lets say we made up words to describe this song, and that word’s meaning would specifically be the beauty of that song. Is it possible that we could ever learn every word to describe this stuff? I really don’t think it is. I feel however that everything can be described by A language, i.e music, movement, artwork, speach, writing etc.

Does anyone (dis)agree with this?

in my opinion a simple human being is unable to truly convey everything using language… the only way that a human may be able to convey thier feelings it to give direct example but this isn’t truly showing your feelings.

In the cake example a person is not truly able to convey using language what they feel when eating the cake. they are only able to use simple words such as, tasty, nice ect. not being able to define specifically what they feel when eating the cake. this is a very hard topic to answer. good luck.

Another good point on this topic is that language cannot describe love. I will not go into the many attempts that have been made by philosophers here (the greek concept of eros, agape, and philia for example). Everyone’s experience in this world is different and it is for this reason that communication is impossible. I may describe a cake as ‘tasty’ but my experience of tasty may be wholly different than yours.

i think the question is an obvious one. it deals with the simple inability of any finite explanative construct being able to explain an infinite abundance and range. while human language has become refined over the generations, the sheer infinetismal nuance and infinite range of our known universe can never be encapsulated. my own theory is that music is a far better descriptor, utilising a greater amount of nuance than words ever could.

Well do you speak, or sit there nice and quite? Or do you speak and go wahahhahzhsqaA (in a frenzy) with sounds that make no sense.

I agree.
I have thought a long these lines for a while now. Language is essential to the function and forward progress of the human race. It is our form of communication; regardless of the dialect or origin. However, I also see the intrinsic individuality of the human experience. We can express through language the limits of our knowledge, which is first limited by the need for language in order to express. We can never trully understand each other is indeed a logical conclusion.

To say that language can/will be able to describe internal emotion PERFECTLY (a characteristic of ‘everything’), then you’re insulting the complexity of thought!

Language is a limping medium in communication, which is why we have forms of art. Poetry can sometimes envoke a feeling, but when it comes to emotions, all languages use analogies.

I don’t speak it, but I’ve heard that Arabic is quite powerful with words… unforunately I cannot give a personal opinion on this matter :slight_smile:

Imagine the ‘sex machine’ from Demolition Man (Stallone & Bullock), where emotion was transferred through a machine. I’d see these machines or telepathy in general a more powerful medium in communicating what others and ourselves feel than verbal language.

It’s like seeing something beautiful and taking an image of it. The image itself cannot properly show this object well, so the person who’s intrigued must go and see it for himself, and even his view of it might differ from yours, even though he’s in the exact same place as you.

I think its all expressed in the words like “describe”, “express” and the like. expressing or describing some experience or phenomenon does not render the subject in the same way it is perceived, it is not the immersion in the experience under discussion, not the very experience. it is only a way of reproducing it, it does not happen at the same time as the original experience, thus the language can describe it, but we must take into consideration it is a means of human vision of the world connecting the past and the present.

language can say many nice and pleasant things and can help solve problems, in general it helps us humans to survive, but the perception is another subject matter. we aren;t complete without either constituents.

I feel someone is a stone with which I am being lapidated.

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote an interesting essay on this topic, “On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense”. Quotation:

“The different languages, set side by side, show that what matters with words is never the truth, never an adequate expression; else there would not be so many languages. The “thing in itself” (for that is what pure truth, without consequences, would be) is quite incomprehensible to the creators of language and not at all worth aiming for. One designates only the relations of things to man, and to express them one calls on the boldest metaphors. A nerve stimulus, first transposed into an image—first metaphor. The image, in turn, imitated by a sound—second metaphor. And each time there is a complete overleaping of one sphere, right into the middle of an entirely new and different one.”

You might want to look at the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer.

To get you started…Gadamer believed that humans are all part of language and that language grows and evolves with us. In a way i guess he saw language as being an inherent part of us, and in turn, we become an intrinsic part of language.

Gadamer believed that this conept of language allowed for a greater understanding between people and across events in history.

Good Luck!


[size=150]Language is everything![/size]

Language is over rated; can an ant describe the world? How can a human describe the universe? Or is there a reason it is all black. Language also has evolved over time. For example the Greeks didn’t even have a word for true or false. Our language isn’t that advance we just have several words that have the same meaning, one just sounds bigger then the other.


“true” = “alethes”

“false” = “pseudes”

Interesting, I was told wrong then. Thank you.

The long answer is yes.

Ha, do you think we are smart enough to comprehend everything. If not then how can the language man created describe it?

Well Moderate Centrist here, better known as Warrior Monk, thought he was smart enough to type out five posts without being found out.

And I was vain enough to post this just so that I could become a thinker.

I put this question to you all. Are we able to truly express through language alone what we feel deep down inside us? Clearly we can’t. Above, i see, are many legitermate entry’s which try to answer the posted question but many, as i am, are having trouble to truly express what i feel. Think about if you are talking to someone on a chat room. These conversations are usually lacking meaning no matter how profound the persons responce is. This is because with language alone it is very hard to express what you want to. With out the finer nuances of communication such as facial expression, body stance ect. many of the things that are being unconciosly communicated aren’t being picked up.

This is, of course, far from being a settled issue, with various schools of thought offering their opinions as to the inherent limits in language. In his earlier work, Ludwig Wittgenstein posited a model of reality in which all facts are presented in significant propositions, and thus the limits of factual knowledge are also the limits of our linguistic structures. However, as I have read mirrored in some of the above replies, Wittgenstein did not see this as in any way encapsulating the entrance of value into our worldviews. In a mind-bendingly paradoxical discourse on “What can’t be said,” he states that although we cannot sensibly speak of that which transcends the factual realm of our logical space (such as ethics or esthetics), he sees the tendency of the human mind to attempt such verbalization as something he “cannot help respecting deeply and I would not for my life ridicule it.” In a sense, language can capture and describe every possible fact in the world, but the value (things like love, beauty, good) can only be displayed in the pervading form of logical reality.

Language is an absolute necessity for the advancement of intelligence. I think though that there are types of language. There is a spoken language and there is the language of thought. Before humans invented a spoken language, what went through their heads as they saw a green field of grass or a tree or when they saw other humans? In this state, before spoken language, we saw the world in the same way that I guess animals do, in the sense that we had no spoken language to help us form coherent patterns of thought. Maybe the coherence was there, maybe it wasn’t. What goes through a dog’s head as he sees something familiar, or when he sees something strange. Indeed, there is some method to the way his brain processes and interprets sense data. Dare we call it a language though? People who speak French probably think in French. But is this French they think in a substitution for more primitive language of thought? I think it is. In this respect, language helps us think faster and more clearly. Language is part of the evolution of our species. Our brains give us great potential compared to other species, and spoken language helps us maximize that potential. So, if current languages, ie English, French, Spanish etc help us describe the world, its not hard to imagine a future that has “better” or more powerful languages that empower us to describe things more accurately, as well as think more clearly. Just some thoughts…