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Extensional Devices

 

Techniques > Use of language > Modifying meaning > Extensional Devices

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Method

Extensional devices, as described in general semantics, are linguistic elements that are used to take uncertainty and emotional aspects out of a statement and create a more rational description.

The five extensional devices are:

  • Indexing adds back in specific detail, such as people's names, locations, and so on.
  • Dating adds the dates when events occurred (so is just indexing in time).
  • 'Etc' is indicating that the whole story cannot be told.
  • Quotation marks are used to separate something out as not 'real'.
  • Hyphens bind words together in strength-making connections.

The first three of these are working devices, whilst the latter two are safety devices.

Example

Not: Young people are lazy.
But: Young people whose parents give them everything learn to be lazy.

Discussion

Much spoken (and written) language not only has much left out, but has multiple traces of emotional perception and other distortion. By adding

General Semantics was initiated by Alfred Korzybski, who said 'The map is not the territory', indicating the maps in our heads are only indicators of the reality outside, though we act as if the maps were real.

See also

Generalization

 

Korzybski, A. (1947). Science and Sanity, Lakeville, CT: Non-Aristotelian Library

 

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