Tag Archive | Language

Project Transformational Vocabulary

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

Another project?

This is an organic evolution of my linguistics project [<link; shot read].

What’s it about?

I know the concept of transformational vocabulary from Tony Robbins.

The words we attach to our experience become our experience. Words have a biochemical effect on the body. (Tony Robbins)

You can change your emotional state through the language you use to describe your experience. Tony calls this type of language, transformational vocabulary.

Language is a tool. However, Tony’s idea is but one application of it. Jason Silva shares a mind-blowing perspective:

The words you use to map reality affect your experience of reality. Words do not just describe; words are generative.

Language is a metaphysical tool. […] We create and perceive our world through language. We think reality into existence through linguistic construction in real-time.

I’m fascinated by the magical technology we call ‘language’. I see language and meaning as the ultimate playground. I’m especially interested in practical ways of using language for personal transformation and for shaping your subjective reality – I call this process, reality painting.

I see concepts as the (modular) building blocks of meaning. In playing with concepts, we’re playing with meaning in the same way a child is playing with Legos. 

We all have an internal concept library we unconsciously use to construct meaning in real-time. The library was unconsciously (and haphazardly) ‘compiled’ over the course of our life. I want to make this process conscious and deliberate.

I’ve started compiling a dictionary of the most powerful concepts that make up my personal universe of meaning, and of the most powerful concepts humanity has created that are transferrable across domains and disciplines. I call this project, Transformational Vocabulary – in homage to and as an extension of Tony’s idea. 

I’m interested not just in the concepts, but also in the interconnections between them. I use Obsidian for this project because it allows me to see them as a graph – as a beautiful (and useful) constellation of meaning. 

It looks like this so far

I’m also deconstructing and organizing the concepts, identifying various kinds of linguistic and semantic structures.

The Language of Play

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

How can I practice Play?

To practice is to remember to practice. One aspect of the practice is to make Play more present in your mind. One way to do that is through language, by using words and phrases evocative of Play. I call the collection of all such words and phrases the Language of Play.

There are two aspects to it: 

– using existing words and phrases – identifying such words and phrases from your play history and using them more often
– creating words and phrases – playing with language to create words and phrases that remind you to play; we might call this languageplay

One type of such languageplay for instance involves substitution of various words with the word ‘play’.

eg 

pay => play
Paypal => Playpal (reddy2go [<link])

work => play
workout => playout

Another one involves adding ‘playful’ before various words:

eg
Playful Awareness
Playful Learning

This a an instance of what I call Generative Play – playing with coming up with new ways to play.

The Templating Game

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

What do you mean by the templating [<link; medium read] game?

I mean playing with linguistic templates

One way to play is by creating templates. Whenever you notice a meaningful, recurring linguistic pattern, you turn it into a template. That is, you take the variable part of the pattern and turn it into a variable.

‘Variables’ as in those used in math?

Precisely.

For instance, here’s a familiar linguistic pattern: 

The art of living
The art of design
The art of donkey riding

‘The art of’ doesn’t change, but what comes after, does. So we can turn it into a template: 

The art of x

Another way to play is by taking a (general) template and generating (specific) instances.

For instance: 

Every x is an opportunity.

Every obstacle is an opportunity.
Every unwanted thought is an opportunity.
Every Monday is an opportunity.

And another way to play is by coming up with new ways to play with templates. I call this the game-making game.

Project Linguistics

The creation of language was the first singularity for humans. It changed everything. Life after language was unimaginable to those on the far side before it. (Kevin Kelly)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

I’ve spent most of my life taking language for granted. As for most of us, it was invisible.

What changed that?

The catalyst was Viktor Frankl’s beautiful book Man’s Search for Meaning. That book had a profound impact on my life. It led to me to ask one of the big questions of my life:

What is meaning?

On a winding path, the question led me to language. In a moment of insight, I realized that we use language to shape our subjective reality. Jason Silva puts it beautifully:

The words you use to map reality affect your experience of reality. Words do not just describe; words are generative.

Language is for us like water to the fish, and just like water to the fish, invisible. At that moment, for the first time in my life, I saw the water.

Language and meaning are tools. We can metaphorically think of them as an instrument. Much like a cellist uses the cello to create music, people play the instrument of language to create worlds and experiences. 

People play the instrument of language. I also play with the instrument itself. I play a meta-game [<link; short read].

I’ve been playing the meta-game on my own for several years now. But recently, while reading the Wikipedia article about affixes, I discovered… linguistics.

There’s a whole field of study about language!

It wasn’t on my mental map until then. Well, I did know what linguistics was, but I hadn’t connected it with my interests. 

I started reading an introduction to linguistics and… I fell in love. Learning about the nuances and intricacies of language made me appreciate this beautiful instrument of ours more and more. Linguistics has also given me a new set of conceptual tools to play with and, more importantly, a new lens through which to look at language. Once you learn about morphemes, the structural components of words (the object of study for the branch of linguistics called morphology), the world of words will never be the same.

In the linguistics book I’m reading, there’s a fun example about the morphemes that make up the longest word in English:

antidisestablishmentarianism

– establish
dis-establish – to reverse the action of establishing
– disestablish-ment – result of disestablishing
– disestablishment-arian – supporter of disestablishment
– disestablishmentarian-ism – practice of disestablishmentarians
anti-disestablishmentarianism – opposition to disestablishmentarianism
– antidisestablishmentarianism-ist – someone who opposes disestablishmentarianism

What’s next?

Linguistics marks the next stage of my exploration of meaning, and the next level of my meta-game. I call it Project Linguistics.”