IGS Discussion Forums: In the News: An interesting use of the term "general semantics"
Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - 07:31 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

The text does not provide a "definition" for "general semantics"; it applies the adjective 'general' to the word "semantics" to indicate that the technology in question uses ordinary (general) language rather than technical terms.


The bonus of Lightwave is that it uses general semantics rather than foreign terms for its applications, which is just another way of saying it uses common words that we all use rather than geek speak for its applications. This means it's a lot easier to teach people how to use it and have them retain that knowledge than some other system.

It is however, an application of Don Kerr's point of view on general semantics - to choose your words to evoke the experiential elements of the listener. Using common words addresses a much larger target population than using technical terms. We must not think that every instance of the two words 'general' and 'semantics' taken together denotes the specialized field of "general semantics". The quoted example is an instance when it does not.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, July 31, 2006 - 09:48 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

In the four perspectives on language, I draw a clear distinction between "semantics" and "general semantics". The article above talks about the semantics of terms used in the computer application named "Lightwave". It is discussing the third perspective on language. The area we discuss here, however is the extensional discipline which as the proper name "General Semantics". We, however, do not capitalize the name in normal use, because a long time ago the Institute of General Semantics decreed that we should not. So the semantics of Lightwave uses general terms, and that subject area does not provide an alternate definition for "general semantics" the extensional discipline. Ben's characterization of this particular usage of the words 'general' and 'semantics' together as providing another "definition" of the discipline known under the name "general semantics" was "incorrect".

What might be more interesting would be a discussion of the various principles of general semantics that we might infer went into the decision that the makers of Lightwave made when they chose to use general or common words when describing the technical semantics of the user interface for the application Lightwave. I took the opportunity to present one such illustration.