Chapter 22 Chemistry of language

22.1 Expressed knowledge.

When using knowledge, the used knowledge is expressed in the result. This is of course also true for language. The structure recorded in written language contains an immense amount of knowledge about the human beings which have developed and used it. This makes the study of language much broader than language itself.

22.2 Active information.

Information is inherently active. Written language seems at first a static structure, although, when considering the sequence of the text and the changing structures when the text progresses, we notice that the active aspect of the used knowledge and language is also recorded in the text.

22.3 Recognizing structures.

When we want to use text as a source of information about the internal structure of thought centers and other information structures, we need a mental model of the structure we want to know. From this point, we must develop a mapping between the structure of the text and the mental model. Only those elements of the mental model which correspond quite well with the structures generating the information expressed in the language will be corrected (rectified) by the mapping.

22.4 Mental model.

To be able to describe the model and think about it in usual terms, I propose the following image of of the model and the internal context.

Imagine a three dimensional construction of (intelligent) knowledge elements, a kind of little machines. The structure of this machinery is determined by the communication channels between the elements (remember that an information being "grasps" elements of the environment by intensifying the communication with these elements). Useful communication channels reduce the difference between the communicating element. This reduction of difference results in an attraction. When an information being does not fit (pain experience), it will increase its insulation between the contradicting elements. This causes a repulsion. The complex play of attraction and repulsion between the elements determines a three dimensional structure. The communication channels determine the bindings. In fact this image corresponds completely with molecular structures. This is not surprising because molecules are such thought centers (although most of them not so developed as humans beings), stable organizations of atoms, bindings between atoms are communication channels.

22.5 Structures.

In the model described above, the (internal) context of the structure is determined by the structure itself. Indeed, we must see this structure as something very dynamic, parts are added, other parts split off the main structure etc.

Because parts of the structure can split off and go their own way (as for any organization), the context of a thought center is not necessary one structure but is always a set of structures floating around (imagine the structures as weight-less or floating structures in a liquid). The simultaneous existence of several of these contexts corresponds with the simultaneous existence of several fields of coherent thoughts inside one organism. At any moment, there is one of these context structures (coherent thought fields) which has control over the thought center (current context). We can imagine the current context as one of these floating constructions which is attached to a fixed point in the thought center (not very accurate but useful image). This fixed attaching point is called the subject hook.

22.6 Contact with the outside world.

The current context attached to the subject hook has control over the thought center. The external behavior of the thought center (at this instant) will correspond with the nature of this context.

By this communication channel, the current context is mapped upon elements in the external world.

22.7 Energy.

The thought center is an organism (information being) which has of course to gain its daily bread (energy). The structure of the current context attached to the context hook receives most of the energy (or the loss of energy in case of pain).

22.8 Context switching.

Imagine that the external condition suddenly change, the mapping of the current context upon the external world (thought the subject hook) does not fit any longer. This lack of coherence makes the current context repel from the subject hook (floats away) to avoid complete destruction.

The context structure who just insulated itself from the external world attempt as soon as possible to find an explanation (change in internal structure) for the external change. The goal is to become synchronized with the external world to be attracted again by the subject hook and become the current context.

When the change of the external context is profound, the current context cannot be adapted and drifts further away from the subject hook. All other context structures in the thought center are permanently attempting to become in synchronization with the subject hook. This is possible although they are at a save distance (less intense communication) from the subject hook (similar to the current context after retracting itself from the subject hook). When one of the other contexts becomes synchronized with the external world, it gains control over the thought center and becomes current context.

It is clear that the previous context can regain control when the external context is switched back to the original one.

22.9 Internal attraction and repulsion.

We have seen that the external context switching causes a repulsion and attraction of different context structures. Because these context structures are representations of external relations, some external changes cause a change in the relations inside the current context structure. By this, external changes can cause the repulsion of parts of the internal structure or the attraction of new elements to complete the current context structure. These changes are completely analog to the context switching described above but they take place at a more internal level inside the context structure.

22.10 Open endings.

When an external changes causes internal tensions in the model, parts of the context structure can break off and leave open endings. Abstract knowledge elements attempt to synchronize themselves with these open endings. When they succeed, they become attracted by the open endings and can enjoy the energy when participating in the internal dialog of the context structure.

22.11 Construction of complex models.

Imagine a context structure as a model of the environment mapped on the environment (current context). As far changes in the environment can be anticipated or at least explained by the current model, the model can maintain its position (having control) and its structure (no internal tensions).

Suppose the model is faulty but it has not yet experienced it because it has not yet been in the right circumstances to experience the error. When the environment changes to the state where the error in the model shows up. The error causes internal tensions in the construction. The origin of the error is not always very clear but the general area of the problem is this area which corresponds with the unexpected experience. In this area, insulation between the elements increases and by this, the elements in this area become more detached from the context. From outside, this is experienced by an open ending and many abstract (universal) elements are hurrying themselves to fill in the places by this modifying the model in a way which fits at least with the current context.

The model modified by this includes too many details (the new abstract elements have grasped anything in the open area and by this memorized the entire situation of the problem). New changes in the environment (or internal flow of thoughts) will shake off most of these new elements quite soon leaving only those which can adapt themselves in all the known situations (abstract model obtained by removing details).

22.12 Human thought centers.

The described image of thought centers is quite general. Some thought centers (as in non biological molecules) are much simpler and changes are difficult and cumbersome. Thought centers in humans have more experience embedded at lower level. This allows the elements to have a much clearer awareness of what is going on. This is particular important when an error is detected in the model (context). A broad awareness of the elements allows by means of internal communication to determine quite accurately what abstract point in the context is responsible for the error. This allows smaller and much more subtle corrections. This difference of awareness allows human beings to acquire the language ability with an ease which is very different from even the most advanced animals.

22.13 Communication of complex models.

Human language makes intensive use of the capabilities of modifying context structures as described above. It is a sequence of the creation of smaller structures, rejecting them and make a new construction which will attract the just rejected structure by its own. This happens at several levels. For example, a word causes a context structure which is immediately rejected. The next word is a new structure which can attract the previous word. By this, a chain is formed. However, the chain is constructed as such that there are several open endings at its side. These open endings are fitting exactly some parts left open in previous sentences or some parts that will be left open in one of the coming sentences. By this very complex structures can be communicated in a sequential way.

22.14 Similarity with biological molecules.

The sequential way of transmitting complex information structures of language seems to me similar to the way the structures of complex biological molecules and larger structures are encoded in our heredity information. I can imagine that these tricks used by our language are an externalization of ways of communication used since long time at this level. Only in human beings, it is integrated sufficiently deep to be externalize up to the level of communication between bodies. In animals, the externalization of this mechanism might have been blocked at the level of communication between cells.

22.15 Decay of context structures.

When a context structure or a part of it is not longer able to synchronize its internal state with the main context, it repels from this structure. Such detached structures do not fall apart right away. The possibility to maintain their structure depends on the amount of energy gained when in contact with the main context. Some parts of the structure may have been used already before and have become stronger.

When the internal structure of a detached part cannot longer be maintained, at first the weakest bonds will break and the structure will fall apart in several smaller structures. The decay of each of these structures goes on and finally these structures will fall apart also.

However, when a part of a decaying structure can be used again in the current context, it can join the current context as a whole and by this regain energy and extend its lifetime. This makes universal structures live forever (as long the thought center lives).

22.16 Memory.

Short term memory is based upon the existence of the context structure itself (not fallen apart yet). Several contexts can exist simultaneously. This allows to switch between subjects. The survival of structures which are reused several times is the base for long term memory.

Remark that a larger structure which has just been falling apart can easily be reconstructed because the required parts are all still around.

More in next chapter on Use of mappings

This is Chapter 22; Chemistry of language of Behavior of Information

Author: Luc Claeys. All comments welcome, mail to lcl at this site:

Last updated on Nov 12, 1997