Tok Language as a Way of Knowing

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TOK Graded Assignment 1: Language as a Way of Knowing (WOK)

Aristotle: “Words are a symbol of mental experience”

Language is one of the main ways by which we communicate. It is a way of communicating our experiences to others surrounding as, as Aristotle once said: “Words are a symbol of mental experience.” There are an estimated 1,013,913 words in the English language and every day we speak 7,000 to 20,000 words. After hearing these statistics, we might think that language is unlimited, but it is quite the opposite; language, has many boundaries and rules. Its main limitation is one of the most significant boundaries known to us: words. If we take away words, what happens to language? Language does not communicate the ideas the same way. Can we really still describe an experience if there are no words to describe it? Language not only has a vocabulary boundary, but also has a specific set of rules that must be followed to help ideas come across more clearly to others. Some of these rules are grammar (syntactic), pronunciation (phonological), and rhythm (prosodic). When words and phrases are translated, more barriers are created because in addition to the syntactic, phonological, and prosodic rules of the language, the translation barrier also arises. Some words and phrases simply cannot be translated, as they only make sense in their original language.

French has many phrases and words that cannot be translated into English. Voila is a great example of this. Voila is a word we use, even in the English language; it means “there it is”. From that one word in French, we get three words in English. We can thus conclude that “There it is” is a more frequently occurring phrase in French than it is in English. Typically if there is one word that represents what a phrase represents in another language, we can assume that the word is quite frequently occurring. In this case, it is so frequently occurring that it has even influenced the English...
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