Theories of communication

Topics: Linguistics, Language, Semiotics Pages: 3 (843 words) Published: January 19, 2014
Theories of communication. Over the course of time the question of what the essential features of communication are has been discussed from many different angles. It appears to have always been a common view that communication somehow involves transferring thoughts from one mind to another. Even in antiquity it was nevertheless recognized that all sorts of aspects of language are purely matters of convention, so that shared conventions are necessary for verbal communication to be possible. In the 1600s the philosophical idea that the only way to get information with certainty is from the senses led to emphasis on observable aspects of communication, and to the conclusion that there is no way to tell whether an accurate transfer of abstract thoughts has occurred between one mind and another. In the late 1600s Gottfried Leibniznevertheless suggested that perhaps a universal language - modelled on mathematics - could be created that would represent all truths in an objective way accessible to any mind (compare page 1156). But by the late 1800s philosophers like Charles Peirce had developed the idea that communication must be understood purely in terms of its observable features and effects. Three levels of so-called semiotics were then discussed. The first was syntax: the grammatical or other structure of a sequence of verbal or other elements. The second was semantics: the standardized meaning or meanings of the sequence of elements. And the third was pragmatics: the observable effect on those involved in the communication. In the early 1900s, the logical positivism movement suggested that perhaps a universal language or formalism based on logic could be developed that would allow at least scientific truths to be communicated in an unambiguous way not affected by issues of pragmatics - and that anything that could not be communicated like this was somehow meaningless. But by the 1940s it came to be believed - notably by Ludwig Wittgenstein - that ordinary...
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