"A DISCUSSION OF UNIT 4, COMMENTARY ON ACTIVITY 7"
The comment "Views shared by the dominant culture will be encoded in the word meanings. . .a word's connotation is often an expression of attitudes held by society," can be tested for its validity by measuring it against the arguments of one of the most credible linguists, Alfred Korzybski.
In his seminal Science and Sanity (1931), he challenged many of the accepted concepts of teaching (and learning) and his work had a far-reaching impact on the concept of teaching one language to a speaker of a second language. Among the concepts argued in this book (and which became the foundation for the academic field of General Semantics) he suggests these general ideas:
1) The map is not the territory; the word is not the thing;
2) Any language, since it is a "map" can be called "multiordinal;"
3) To effectively teach "language", one must be capable of teaching the "concept" of language.
Since the tests for validity of the statement in Unit 4 (Commentary on Activity 7), rely on a clear understanding of these three concepts, each will be treated briefly. (NB: All Chinese words in this report use the Yale System of Romanization created by noted Sino-Linguist Y.R. Chao. In addition, the use of quotation marks might seem random throughout this text. They are, however, used in accordance with semantics texts that suggest their use to signify that the word used is totally arbitrary).
Every teacher of every language has run across this situation in one form or another. The simplistic response to this statement is "Of course the map is not the territory." It is in the simplicity of this statement that lays the danger of ignoring this concept.
For instance, this concept is often ignored in the teaching of language. When a teacher says "In the English language, 'hen hau' is 'very good'" then we have a prime situation of "map/ territory." The "problem" word in this se...