steepholm (steepholm) wrote,
steepholm
steepholm

Ostensibly

I dreamt last night that I was speaking a language without ostension (would that be the right word?). What I mean is that, to refer to a plate, for example, you actually had to hold the plate up for inspection.

I found this so interesting in my dream that I woke up, and (unusually) still found it interesting even after that. Thinking about it, the development of ostensive capacity in language must have been a big evolutionary leg-up. That, and deixis. With ostension and deixis, you can do most of the practical things needed for a huntery-gathery life. You can tell stories, too. You can get a long way, in fact, without the need for abstract concepts. Although, of course, you can't dream about languages that lack ostension.
Tags: language, what does it all mean?
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