A Story: Labels


Papa, the word ‘register’ is a very confusing English word.

You are correct, Little One.  I believe ‘register’ ranks among the top of words that have unrelated meanings.  Have you discovered what it has to do with cash, conversation, and computer CPUs?  Context can change the meaning of some words but context is not what makes words useful.  I have always thought that a word is a useful word if and only if it labels a pattern that is understood by both ‘the speaker and listener’ or ‘the writer and reader’.

What do you mean by ‘labels’?

As One recognizes patterns through the senses, One wishes to think on these patterns and to communicate One’s discoveries to others.  Labeling these patterns with words accomplishes both wishes.  As language develops, or really as the quantity of words increase, patterns in word groupings also occur and often these words are replaced by a more concise word or phrase that means the same thing.  That simpler word becomes a new label for the group of words.

That didn’t help, Papa.  Give me an example.

Okay, do you know a word or simpler group of words that states the same idea as a four-legged, furry, tail wagging animal that might want me to throw a stick.

Duh, Molly.

An excellent response that indicates the biconditional requirement, ‘if and only if’, above, but only for You and me.  We both understand that Molly is the name of a dog, but not everyone else would have known that.  Molly is not as broad a label as dog is.  Molly is a specific four-legged, furry, tail wagging animal, while dog is a generic four-legged, furry, tail wagging animal.  But dog is not even generic enough because only people that know the English word for four-legged, furry, tail wagging animal would think dog.  In Spanish the label for the pattern of four-legged, furry, tail wagging animal is perro, in French, chien, in German, hund, and so on for every language in the world where people have given a label or word for a four-legged, furry, tail wagging animal.

Do all new words come from groups of other words?

I am not really sure, Little One.  It seems plausible that most new words are derived from new groups of words as most patterns recognized by the senses have already been labeled.  Remember the last time we went to a dog show.  You were full of excitement.  You never knew that there were dogs as big as a small horse or dogs that could fit into a teacup.  You would describe these dogs as huge, big, small, little, and tiny.  You would describe their hair as long, short, soft, scratchy, wiring, and bald.  Their colors were black, brown, tan, red, gray, white, blonde, yellow, and spotted.  Do you remember what you asked people after you found out they had a dog.

Yes, sir.  I wanted them to describe it to me.  How big or small it was?  What color it was?  Was it soft and cuddly?  Did it bite? Was it a girl or a boy?

All these words are useful to you and the people you are talking to because they describe patterns that you both understand. We can now use these words to define new words. For example, can you tell me the general name, or words, of a medium build, smooth wavy red haired dog?

That’s an Irish setter but I still don’t see what words and patterns have to do with Hole Explorers?

Maybe it would help to take a closer look at one of the most dangerous holes I’ve been exploring.