Monday, September 11, 2006

Hmmm. I Bet It Means There Are Cookies Inside!

In an interesting bit of intellecutal illumination, New Scientist magazine discusses what might happen with visual cues we have today, 10,000 years in the future.

It really got me thinking. It's not an easy thing about which to prognosticate, but imagine 10,000 years in the past. We still don't know what most cave paintings really mean. For all we know, the painting of someone's hand means there's fresh-dried dates for sale.

Effectively, the only real point of discussion is how malleable our languages are becoming. Is the incredible speed at which information spreads and people interact accelerating language evolution, or instead freezing it. We now have rigid rules of syntax and language structure.

Yes, as exemplified by the recent entry of "bling" into the Oxford English Dictionary, the vocabulary is changing at an accelerated rate, but the actual structure seems to be pretty stable. And non-verbal symbols seem to be pretty unchanging, as well. Combined with the frequent association of non-verbal symbols with language, I think the people of the future can rest easy in knowing that they will always be able to spot those pesky nuclear waste containers.

Will Our Far Descendants Understand Nuclear Warnings? (Via Science.QJ.Net)

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