Theory of Knowledge: Essay on a Prescribed Title

Topics: Translation, Language, Art Pages: 6 (2074 words) Published: December 9, 2012
Elizabeth Petersen
Theory of Knowledge
20 May 2012
Essay on a Prescribed Title Rewrite
One of the various methods of understanding used among all living organisms is communication. Many methods of communication are built up over time to form languages. Language is formed from various rules, but consists mainly of vocabulary. Vocabulary affects how easily one person communicates with another, which in turn affects how much a person is able to know. If the vocabulary of a certain language does not contain words that describe a given event, or if a language has not developed words that are complex enough to be used to form a meaning of equal value, it is then impossible to impart that knowledge to another person. The extent of vocabulary in a language is determined by what information and knowledge can be shared, using that specific language. Vocabulary can also limit how we communicate with one another because using certain words to describe something may make understanding it much more complex. For example, when one uses abstraction they take away individualistic value to the subject to which they are referring. Does one abstract a cow to the point where they are nothing but a farming asset, or not abstract the cow enough to the point where it is only a large mass of particles and organisms? When there are multiple meanings for the same word, or if something is able to be interpreted in various ways, words and phrases may often be misunderstood and used incorrectly. Areas of knowledge (AOKs) such as language, art, and mathematics are prime examples of why vocabulary can limit how much we know. Literature, as well as other forms of art, can be interpreted in various ways. Math contains various methods, which may be used to reach the same conclusion. Questions begin to arise, such as “Does vocabulary always help us to communicate?” and “How can we avoid these flaws in communication?” Although communication through the use of language—and therefore the use of vocabulary—can be limiting, it is often more useful than not to improve our span of vocabulary so that we may communicate with others and improve our knowledge base. With a higher level of vocabulary we are able to use words with less debatable definitions and easily communicate with one another.

Knowing what exactly vocabulary entails is the first issue that arises when approaching the question of whether or not the vocabulary that we have shapes what we know. Vocabulary is found to be a part of every language, whether it is body language, oral language, written language, or pictorial language, along with many forms of art. The vocabulary of one language may be misconstrued in another language, and a piece of art may be interpreted in various manners. For example, when considering two different languages such as English and Scottish, merely using a translator can be a huge mistake. The rhythmic structure of one sentence is completely lost when it is translated into the other language, and the meanings often change when a word in one language does not exist in the other one. Tartle is a Scottish word which, when explained in English means “the act of hesitating while introducing someone because you have forgotten their name”. The idea of trying to explain this to someone in English would be understandably difficult, since we do not have a word of equivalent value. We have only a phrase, which still may not completely explain the word’s meaning. This is also prominent in the vocabulary of mathematics, which includes an alphabet of numbers and symbols, that when mixed together may form equations and/or codes. Flaws may be apparent because there are various methods to reach a conclusion, and therefore, if a student does not understand a method that is taught, he/she will automatically rely on the method that is understood. When this occurs, if the student is ever asked to explain the method that is misunderstood, there may be a flaw in communication....

Cited: Matson, R. J. "Blagojevich Guilty." The Cargle Post, 27 June 2011. Web. 19 May 2012. <>.
Saramago, Jose, and Margaret Costa. The Cave. New York: Harcourt, 2002. 264. Print.
Voltaire. "Introduction." Introduction. Candide. Trans. John E. Butt. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1954. 13. Print.
Wire, Jason. "20 Awesomely Untranslatable Words from around the World." Matador Network. Matador Abroad, 9 Oct. 2010. Web. 05 May 2012. < the-world/2/>.
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