In the beginning weeks of this course we read the novel, The Information by James Gleick. I’d like to express how absolutely interesting the book was to me as it opened my eyes to aspects of information, communication and information theory that I have never thought that in depth about before. For the purpose of this blog post, I want to focus on the communication aspect of the book. The book states, “as communication evolves, messages in language can be broken down and composed and transmitted in much small sets of symbols” (Gleick 74). Specifically, my focus here is on symbols and language. When reading this book for class, I immediately related it to another course I am taking, American Sign Language (ASL). ASL is essentially replicating the English language visually, by the use of symbols. And, these sets of symbols are essentially the way deaf people communicate. So, my question, how has it evolved? Well, we have learned how much language and different forms of language or ways of communicating has transposed and changed in the book. For instance, the African drum, the language of telegraph signs (oh wow, signs…American sign language), etc. These were all ways of getting information, or communicating that information, from one point to another.
We know from the book, “the language spoken in one valley differs from the language spoken in the next” (Gleick 73). Meaning, the language spoken in one area, is not the same in another area. Let me first compare this in a simple way. Coming to college you meet people from different areas of the state, country, world etc. One difference, although seemingly small, is very representative of the differences in communication, or language, from “valley” to valley”. A friend of mine referring to soda as pop. I had no idea was pop was, a lollipop? Well, where she is from, pop is what they refer to what I refer to soda as. In comparison, in sign language, different areas have different means and ways of communicating. One sign may not be the same sign in another area. The broader sense of this would be the difference in American sign language verse French sign language. There are many different variations of signs. However, amongst those broad categories or country signs, are individual forms of actual sign language that differs. Kind of like how amongst our language of English, as individual ways of the world evolve so do certain aspects of the language and communicating. What does lit mean? One may think you lit a fire at one point in time, however, it has evolved as a word to mean something else, the word lit now holds an additional connotation and means awesome or fun. (kind of weird right?!). Sign language has that as well. Different areas and people have various means of their way of communicating. You can communicate in American Sign language, Pidgin Signed English, and Signed Exact English. Three forms of sign language that are used across the US. Even then it can be broken down further, there’s something called the Rochester Method of sign, which is finger-spelling every single word (even though in other forms there may be a simpler way to say that word (an actually symbolic sign)). Just like the Rochester method has evolved over time, so has our language and communication! Texting, and blogging and tweeting and messaging. The finger-spelling method of sign language transitioning to the more symbolic simpler sense of it relates to our English language evolving to some of the slang we use. So, in thinking of that, what do you notice about other people’s language? Does it differ than yours mostly or just in small areas? Let’s think of locally, then state wide, then the northern part of America verse the southern part of America, then even broader to different countries. It is so interesting to actually think about. So, to end this blog, I’d like to leave you with another quote from James Gleick “everyones sense of language differs and no one’s can be called standard” (Gleick 72). Enjoy!