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IchorFigure

Help Locating Rand Passage

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Hi, I don't mean to sound lazy but I have been trying to locate a piece by Rand's where she talks about how language probably evolved. I could have sworn it was in ITOE but the appendix hasn't helped. She writes about how ancient writings began with perceptual symbols of things like hands and mountains, and then became more abstract as letters representing sounds.

Does anyone know where this particular bit is located? I'm grateful for any help thanks.

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A search for "mountain" in ITOE-2 brings up this, from the appendix:

AR: Only the things which it would do then—that it could roll but the pile of dirt couldn't (if you tried to make the pile move, it would spread across the floor).

Prof. E: You're not bothered at all about the fact that the mountain is not spatially separable from the earth? You don't regard spatial separability as intrinsic to an entity?

AR: What do you mean by spatial separability?

Prof. E: The mountain is stuck to the earth.

Prof. B: So is a tree.

Prof. E: Yeah, but you could uproot a tree.

Prof. B: You could uproot a mountain, if you were strong enough.

Prof. E: That's true, I never thought of that.

Prof. B: But on the other hand, if you look at the earth's surface, it is continuous—the surface goes across, and up, and down.

AR: And that which goes up is what you define as a mountain.

Prof. B: But the mountain is welded to the crust of the earth—it's just a kind of protuberance of the crust of the earth.

Prof. E: The mountain is an entity and the earth, with the mountain, is an entity—and that's not a contradiction.

AR: Oh, of course not. It's the same issue as inbuilt furniture in a room, like a desk which is built into the room, it doesn't become entity-less by being attached to the wall; it's still a separate entity, only it's attached to the wall.

Prof. F: So is a built-in closet an entity?

If that is not it, and you can think of any other search terms, I;d be happy to search the Objectivism-CD for you.

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Hmm no that's not it. Hands and mountains was just my example I don't think she refers to those exactly. I was so sure it was in ITOE but now that I can't find it I'm not positive where it was. She did refer to eastern languages in some way.

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Probably this:

There is evidence to suppose that written language originated in the form of drawings—as the pictographic writing of the Oriental peoples seems to indicate. With the growth of man's knowledge and of his power of abstraction, a pictorial representation of concepts could no longer be adequate to his conceptual range, and was replaced by a fully symbolic code

ITOE, Ch-2 "Concept Formation", Paragraph 14 (or nearby)

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I don't know if this is of any consequence to why you're looking for the quote, but there's a small factual mistake in it.

Eastern writing systems aren't really pictographic anymore. Chinese is logographic (for the most part), but that's no less symbolic than an alphabet. The only difference is in what the symbols represent (whole words rather than sounds), not in whether they represent it using pictographs (which, in 99.9% of cases they don't even attempt to do).

So, if you're using this for your own purposes, you should restate the quote to the effect of "as the initially pictographic writing of the Chinese...". The alphabet also evolved from an initially pictographic method of writing, but in this case in Egypt, not China.

Edited by Nicky

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Oh yep thanks SWN thats what I was looking for :D

And yep I get what you mean Nicky. Actually I don't even think that heiroglyphs were 100% representational in terms of image = word for the thing it is.

I just wanted to show it to a friend who was interested in the history of languages.

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Has there ever been a purely pictographic written language? I can't imagine how it would work, any more than I can imagine a spoken language in which all the words denoted palpable, particular entities.

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Has there ever been a purely pictographic written language? I can't imagine how it would work, any more than I can imagine a spoken language in which all the words denoted palpable, particular entities.

Well you can represent concepts using ideograms (an action for instance, or even more complex ideas - like a children crossing sign, which tells a whole story), they don't all need to be a drawing of an object that references that one object.

But even so, no. You have to be able to reference the language itself sometimes, to be able to fully and unambiguously write it. The main problem you'd run into, I imagine, is that the only person who knows exactly how his pictures should be read is the author. Everyone else would understand what the drawings mean, but wouldn't always know the exact sounds that the author was referencing. (for instance, a children's crossing sign can mean "careful, children are likely to cross", "children might cross, slow down", etc.)

P.S. I'm not sure whether anyone ever seriously tried to devise a functional artificial language that can be written this way. I have heard about at least one tiny artificial language, with a few hundred words, that has a pictographic writing system, but I'm not sure about anything more substantial.

Edited by Nicky

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P.S. I'm not sure whether anyone ever seriously tried to devise a functional artificial language that can be written this way. I have heard about at least one tiny artificial language, with a few hundred words, that has a pictographic writing system, but I'm not sure about anything more substantial.

Do you recall the name? I still don't see how that is possible, because the drawings would be detailed enough to be overwhelming. The only pictographic writing system I can imagine is a story like on ancient Greek pottery, which is plausible, but I wouldn't really call that writing at all, just drawing.

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Do you recall the name? I still don't see how that is possible, because the drawings would be detailed enough to be overwhelming. The only pictographic writing system I can imagine is a story like on ancient Greek pottery, which is plausible, but I wouldn't really call that writing at all, just drawing.

No, and I can't find it. But it looked a lot like this http://web.archive.o...e/sonabook.html , but smaller.

The language I'm linking to (Sona) has 350 or so radicals, and everything else is formed by combining them into compound words. I haven't looked into it further, but let's say all the radicals are meaningful and have an associated, very suggestive pictogram. Now, all that's left to do is make sure all the compounds used are somehow related to their radicals' meaning. We're not using radicals just for the sound - as in mowing = mo(meaning wimp) + wing; but for their meaning i.e. instead of boy the English language would use childman - this would make it possible to represent the concept of a boy perfectly, using the two already known pictograms for child and man side by side.

Things like past tense would be equally easy, you just have a radical for "in the past" to represent whatever sound you add or change to a verb to make it past tense (doesn't even always have to be the same sound, the pictogram can be read more than one way depending on the verb it's next to). For instance, you would write "did" using the pictograms for to do and past tense.

You could get a lot of mileage out of 350 pictograms. Eventually, you'd run into problems, and need to stretch the meaning of radicals more and more away from the meaning of their drawings, to form new compound words (therefor, it would become more and more worthwhile to just simplify them down to a few basic lines like the Chinese and Egyptians did and start using them in ways that don't have anything to do with their original meaning), but you'd get pretty far without that.

Edited by Nicky

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