Re: transparency and paradigms

W Ramsay (
Wed, 15 May 1996 14:09:20 +0100

Dear Wendy:

You recently wrote:

>Dear Gary
>You asked me to" say more about what you meant when you alluded to:
>..the fragility of language as a form of communication".
>Again a three part answer - (I won't call them levels)
>* there have been many excellent examples over the last week of
>people struggling to put into words what they want to say. I won't
>elaborate on that any more

I've been following this discussion with keen interest, and it has reminded
me of the essay by Umberto Eco, "Towards a Semiotic Guerilla Warfare" in
which he examines the paradox that revolutionary groups ten to take over the
TV & radio stations rather than control the revceivers, so to speak. He
makes the point that controlling the _decoding_ of the message is the
important part of any revolution, which rather suggests that language is at
best translucent, at least in isolation from other social cues (another of
Wendy's levels).

As a teacher and educator of teachers (by appointment if not by achievement)
I've been impressed enough by this to include it fairly often in discussions
of learning and language and my better half uses it to try to persuade
Educational Computing students that there data and information are different
animals. I have an awful feeling, though , that each of you would claim it
as evidence for your point of view.

Any comments?



Bill Ramsay,
Dept. of Educational Studies,
University of Strathclyde,
Jordanhill Campus,
G13 1PP,

'phone: +44 (0)141 950 3364
'fax: +44 (0)141 950 3367