A few of you may recall that I often claim that Dictionairies rule the world. I bought one the other day. It was on special. It cost $8. Its worth… $8.
Dictionairies are essentially a massive cirular reference. If you look up the definition of a particularly tricky word, you oft have to look up a word used to define the original word you where researching. Dictionaries use words to define other words. If you didn’t have a vocabulary already (you know no words) a dictionary would be useless to you. How do we then learn our first word?
Lets make a romantic assumption that the first word we all learn is ‘mum’. There are essentially a couple of ways we could learn it, the most likely in my mind, is by sound association. We learn of the object ‘mum’ through experience and then we associate the sound ‘mum’ with the object that feeds, cleans and takes care of us. From the sound association we eventually learn to spell the word ‘mum’ and vola, we have our first word.
A more likely example is ‘aaaaaarrrrrrgggwhaaawhhaaaa’ which we associate with the possibility of getting fed, or cleaned, or not-being-held-in-that-particular-way-that-makes-my-nappy-go- right-up-my-bum. of course we wouldn’t know any of this right? It would more likely be an association with x, y, z. Where x, y, z represent those things. Do you see the problem here?
Unless we have some innate ideas when we are born, we are not going to know anything. We will not know what hungry is, we are not going to know what x, y, and z stand for. How do we even know to go ‘aaaaarggggghhhhwhhhaa?’