Character of a message which "lacks a selective function" (D. Mac KAY, 1969, p.25).
D. Mac KAY states: "We have to distinguish between meaninglessness due to:
a) lack of definition of selective functions (e.g. non-sense syllabes, or words, or sentences)
b) absence of the appropiate range in recipient (e.g., colour to a blind man)
c) incompatibility of two or more components of the selective operator (e.g., the milk is isoceles).
"Clearly, utterances can be partially meaningful (or meaningless) under the above heads"(p.129).
More specifically, the following example in languages semantics make these aspect clear:
a) "Amünkoni felpertna potarisko hapu" is a fancyful sentence without any meaning in any language. But the receiver can be reasonably sure of this only if I, as the emissor, tell him so and if he supposes that he may believe me. Curiously the above fancyful sentence could become a meaningful example of meaninglessness, i.e. acquire meaning.
b) "Mutoto alivunja sahani moya" is a correct sentence with a precise meaning in Kiswahili (an East African language). It is meaningful for somebody who knows the language and meaningless for one who does not. This latter one is unable to perceive the difference between the imaginary and the genuine significant sentence.
c) "The milk is isoceles" is nonsense for both emissor and receiver, provided both do know English. However someone who does not, is unable to differentiate this sentence (senseless for him/her) from any other senseless utterance of types a) or b).
One could possibly add still a fourth case, when an old language is lost and is meaningless because there are no more emissors or receivers who are able to make sense of it.
- 1) General information
- 2) Methodology or model
- 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
- 4) Human sciences
- 5) Discipline oriented
To cite this page, please use the following information:
Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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