web site hit counter The Tyranny of Words - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

The Tyranny of Words

Availability: Ready to download

A popular approach to semantics in which the author discussess how to clarify the meaning of words and achieve more exact communication. Index


Compare

A popular approach to semantics in which the author discussess how to clarify the meaning of words and achieve more exact communication. Index

30 review for The Tyranny of Words

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Highly Recommend! This is my introduction to the concept of Semantics. To date it's the most informative book I've come across on language and spoken communication. As a writer and speaker this book sets a foundation for communicating new information to another person or group. How to take in information and understand nonsense from utility. It clears the smoke of spellbinders and mystics, philosophers and economists where words hang in the abstract, with different meanings & interpretations to Highly Recommend! This is my introduction to the concept of Semantics. To date it's the most informative book I've come across on language and spoken communication. As a writer and speaker this book sets a foundation for communicating new information to another person or group. How to take in information and understand nonsense from utility. It clears the smoke of spellbinders and mystics, philosophers and economists where words hang in the abstract, with different meanings & interpretations to each person, and thus no referent to the natural world. And here communication fails us because the more abstract our speech, the less we understand what one really means. An example of precise communication could be an airplane blueprint. Hand it to a set of engineers from one country to another, and the same plane will result. But try expressing something like "The Eternal" between nations, class and religion and now you can catch a glimps of why the worlds struggles in a quagmire of misunderstanding and failed communication.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    This is a hard book to review because it requires contextualization. Here goes: Stuart Chase was an economist who got interested in words when semantics was developing as a branch of linguistics. This book is his synthesis of his reading in this area over a 3-year period in the mid-1930's. It is clearly not written by a linguist and it has some terrible logical errors (including a bunch of syllogisms that would bring a logician to tears). However, the area it tackles is terribly hard: how do we c This is a hard book to review because it requires contextualization. Here goes: Stuart Chase was an economist who got interested in words when semantics was developing as a branch of linguistics. This book is his synthesis of his reading in this area over a 3-year period in the mid-1930's. It is clearly not written by a linguist and it has some terrible logical errors (including a bunch of syllogisms that would bring a logician to tears). However, the area it tackles is terribly hard: how do we communicate meaning accurately, particularly as the level of abstraction of our ideas increases? As such, it illustrates the struggles of a young field to define itself, explain its subject matter, develop its methodology, and contribute to human communication. I read it as a warm-up to Ogden and Richard's "The Meaning of Meaning"; more to come on how well it prepared me for their work. It introduces their referent-reference-symbol model to explain how easily we miscommunicate: many of the word-symbols we use do not have clearly specified referents (identifiable real-world objects), so speakers and listeners reference different concepts and therefore misunderstand each other. The overall point is that we must situate - or qualify - our statements in space-time. For example, "democracy in the United States in 1938", or "democracy in the UK in 1956." While useful for describing how to mediate disputes, it is entirely unable to handle, for example, many of the beautiful things about meaning and interpretation as explained by modern poetry theory.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Leon M

    Stuart Chase's "Tyranny of Words" is one of the easier introductions to the applied philosophy of language. The book makes four major points that I'd like to mention here: 1) It introduces the reader to Korzybski's idea of general-semantics as first discussed in his "Science and Sanity". Korzybski major realization was that words always need to refer to something in existence: the map is not the territory. From this theoretical approach to the philosophy of language, Korzybski develops practical Stuart Chase's "Tyranny of Words" is one of the easier introductions to the applied philosophy of language. The book makes four major points that I'd like to mention here: 1) It introduces the reader to Korzybski's idea of general-semantics as first discussed in his "Science and Sanity". Korzybski major realization was that words always need to refer to something in existence: the map is not the territory. From this theoretical approach to the philosophy of language, Korzybski develops practical ideas and tips to aid the individual in attaining a greater clarity in communication. He advocates a cautious and conscious use of higher-level abstractions as well as leaving out the word "is" as identity relation whenever possible - he says that no two things are ever the same. He also developed the model of a structural differential used in therapy and to teach children about the loss of information on different levels of abstraction. His last main idea is the usage of Mathematics as an aid in communication. 2) This leads over to the next point, which is actually an application of Einstein's theory of relativity to the philosophy of language: Chase says that words can never have an absolute meaning - simply because the referents aren't absolute: Take the idea of length. What is length? How can you define it? It is utterly useless to speak of length when it is not defined in relation to other concepts such as velocity. Mathematics can help in defining words and concepts because it acknowledges the relative matter of concepts by expressing them in terms of other concepts: Area = Length x Breadth. 3) The third big point made in the book is illustrated by Odgen's triangle of communication: It basically says that there is no direct connection between symbol and referent (real-world thing the symbol or word refers to). The connection is only there when an interpreter connects the thing with the symbol. Odgen created Basic English as a culmination of his findings - a variant of English with all the redundancy eliminated. 4) Now, it's getting complicated and controversial. The fourth big point made my Chase is that the social sciences and especially philosophy and economics are in big trouble because they ceased to deal with the referent side of the pyramid: They dealt only with symbols, leaving out referents. Chase might have a point here, but he seems to be objecting all use of higher-level abstractions in parts of his book and this is neither what Korzybski intended nor what I agree with: In philosophy, how can you make progress without talking about higher-level abstractions? To me, "liberty" has a meaning. I do agree, though, with this matter in two exceptions: The first is popularism, which often takes the form of personifications of higher-level abstractions ("Capitalism is weakening") - here, it is obvious that people should question what they are talking about. The second is economics, where often - at least in Chase's time - solutions are produced by reasons on the basis of a set of assumptions that were seldomly subjected to rigorous scientific testing. The law of supply and demand is not a law, it is a model of human behaviour that may, but will not always align with what is happening in an economy. As a model, it is a great help and I thank the economist who developed it - but why the hell did he call it a law and not the "model of supply and demand"? Having dealt with the content of this book, I want to proceed to deal with the critique of Korzybski as mentioned in the famous "Fads and Fallacies of Science". The critique shows quite obviously that Korzybski was more of a cult leader than a big philosopher - if the statements are true, that is.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Van

    The Tyranny of Words The book was first published in 1938 (my copy was published in London at that time, strangely enough) and I don't know how to edit the Goodreads text that says it was published much later. Also good quality paperbacks (with better covers) and hardbacks are still available on Amazon. The author, ironically, is a little more wordy for my taste than I would like but not nearly enough to “bounce” me from the book. The ideas are practical and useful. This is an “early” work as it w The Tyranny of Words The book was first published in 1938 (my copy was published in London at that time, strangely enough) and I don't know how to edit the Goodreads text that says it was published much later. Also good quality paperbacks (with better covers) and hardbacks are still available on Amazon. The author, ironically, is a little more wordy for my taste than I would like but not nearly enough to “bounce” me from the book. The ideas are practical and useful. This is an “early” work as it was written only a few years after Korzybski, and it includes an overview of other works that have not survived the test of time that Korzybski’s work has. As with Hayakawa’s book, in addition to the ideas themselves, the historical context gives the book a richness that I have really enjoyed. The economic and social issues of that day often remain the issues of this day ( Fall 2008) Often while reading I ask myself “ Why are you writing like this?” . And, I think I have a plausible answer. If he was 38 or older when he wrote this, he was born before cars and a 24 hour radio station. When the sun went down, his world may have been the exchange of ideas with people actually sitting in the room with him. His chattiness may come from the amount of time he, and others had throughout each evening. There are plenty of gems thoughout the book that kept me interested. I wish he would reference his name dropping as well as the books, quotes and other attributed ideas that he presents throughout. Half way through the book now I have moved it from two to three stars. He can write when he wants to. I have finished the book now and I'll give it three and a half to four stars. Getting toward the end of the book now and he spends a lot of time on economics re: Marxist and Capitalist “word traps”. He is helping me rethink my own economic models. I’ll remember his translations of political and economic text into bla bla for making me laugh out loud.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sheng Peng

    The key idea is pretty interesting, i.e., outside of physical sciences, nobody knows what they are talking about and it's all time wasted. Especially in economics and politics. The key idea is pretty interesting, i.e., outside of physical sciences, nobody knows what they are talking about and it's all time wasted. Especially in economics and politics.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Josh Smith

    Amazing book on the prospects of the clarification of language. I enjoyed the special focus on economic and political matters. As the book was written between the two world wars, you would think it might read like a dated book, but it actually was quite refreshing. One can see echoes from the past in today's economic and political problems, which Chase masterfully shows stem partly from problems with communication and using dogmatic absolutes. Every person considering himself or herself on the " Amazing book on the prospects of the clarification of language. I enjoyed the special focus on economic and political matters. As the book was written between the two world wars, you would think it might read like a dated book, but it actually was quite refreshing. One can see echoes from the past in today's economic and political problems, which Chase masterfully shows stem partly from problems with communication and using dogmatic absolutes. Every person considering himself or herself on the "left" or the "right" politically (especially on the fringes, and I've been on both sides) should read this, as it's a good warning as to the disastrous results of using a single- or two-valued approach to thinking and communicating instead of a many-valued or infinite-valued approach. You will probably understand what I mean after reading the book. Great read. Even though the book is 75 years old (1938-2013), it is still enjoyable, readable, and, maybe unfortunately, relevant to today's world.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Green

    I am currently on chapter 6, this book is a bit difficult to read since some of the words are not on my daily vocab; so I have to take the time I come across each new word to me and write it down the look up the definition. To my understanding so far the author's take on semantics is of words being used excessively on intangible things. I have been taking notes as I progress through the chapters and have a list of a few other experts in the field of Semantics and neurology to follow up on once c I am currently on chapter 6, this book is a bit difficult to read since some of the words are not on my daily vocab; so I have to take the time I come across each new word to me and write it down the look up the definition. To my understanding so far the author's take on semantics is of words being used excessively on intangible things. I have been taking notes as I progress through the chapters and have a list of a few other experts in the field of Semantics and neurology to follow up on once completed; three of these being C. K. Ogden, I. A. Richards, and Alfred Korzybski (which seems to be referenced often in this book). I think it's pretty interesting how Chase Stuart mentions the three sources new symbols emerge from to become words. I'll have to look up more info on word magic and Semantics once completed with this book; great read so far.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cris

    This book introduced me to Alfred Korzybski's General Semantics (GS). One of the most important precepts of GS is that any abstract word without a clear referent in the physical world is deemed essentially meaningless. Guided by this and other principles of the discipline, Stuart Chase gives and critiques examples of misleading or meaningless language in economics, politics, literary theory, science and law. I found this book to be an easy-to-understand (and well-written) investigation of the li This book introduced me to Alfred Korzybski's General Semantics (GS). One of the most important precepts of GS is that any abstract word without a clear referent in the physical world is deemed essentially meaningless. Guided by this and other principles of the discipline, Stuart Chase gives and critiques examples of misleading or meaningless language in economics, politics, literary theory, science and law. I found this book to be an easy-to-understand (and well-written) investigation of the limits of spoken and written communication. After having read it, I'm convinced GS can help me clarify not only my writing and speech, but also my thought. I'm eager to learn more about it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Roger Smitter

    The academe discipline that we now call communication has its roots in called “ rhetoric,” what philosophers a few thousand years ago. With this book in 1938, Chase began a major change in the academic discipline. Now it’s called “communication” and deals with means of communicating that the Greeks (or Chase) could imagine. But it’s good to learn about the people who developed an academic field that many students are seeking. The book begins with a series of questions, including “Does communicati The academe discipline that we now call communication has its roots in called “ rhetoric,” what philosophers a few thousand years ago. With this book in 1938, Chase began a major change in the academic discipline. Now it’s called “communication” and deals with means of communicating that the Greeks (or Chase) could imagine. But it’s good to learn about the people who developed an academic field that many students are seeking. The book begins with a series of questions, including “Does communication threaten the world?” (p. 10) Today we would say YES. The book is one that that brought to the educational world a topic called “communication.” While few communication textbooks mention Chase and his colleagues, their work is useful. For example, “The meaning of an event is not something fixed and eternal, but shifts with the context or the operation which is being performed upon it.” (35) The core of the book is to show that the WORD is not the THING it represents. Chase uses multifold examples. He wanted us to see that communication is something that only humans can experience: “Does a horse know when he crosses the border from France into Germany?” (35) He uses a whole chapter to show that “primitive people” can communicate, even when they do not have a written language. He shows one of his most famous pieces of work, the communication triangle: Reference Thought or Reference Word, Phrase, Symbol……..Object, Thing, or Referent as a model of how communication operates. The symbols stand for a referent. We get a sense of how who language [communication] is linked to science, math, and the environment (the same meaning as we have today for that last word. He has chapters for diverse academic field. There’s a chapter on “….the semantics of sex.” (202) [You might be a little disappointed about that part of the book.] He also devotes chapters with clever titles: Promenade with Philosophers, Turn with the Logicians.” And “Right with Economists.” “The student of semantics will tend to reverse the usual relations between speaker and listener.” (199) This was a major movie in the study of public speaking. There’s no surprise that a book published in 1938 addresses fascism. There’s a page on “the semantics of sex.” [Don’t go to page 202 right away, however,] He gets to the differences in labels and words for man and woman (203) The book ends with chapters focused on logicians, economists (both left and right), judges and statement [and probably if he were writing today would say “women in the work of states.”) A final statement: “Language is perhaps the most human of all human attributes.” 352

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shashi Khanka

    This was not an easy read as I expected it to be. I thought it would be a lot about psychology but its about Reality, about the real world that we live in. The words that we use and the world that we have created in our minds of words and loads of them has little to do with reality. A lot of things that we talk about are in abstraction and much of it has no referents in the real world. The author mocks the intellectuals that can talk endlessly on Law, Liberty, Equality, Capitalism and the like. This was not an easy read as I expected it to be. I thought it would be a lot about psychology but its about Reality, about the real world that we live in. The words that we use and the world that we have created in our minds of words and loads of them has little to do with reality. A lot of things that we talk about are in abstraction and much of it has no referents in the real world. The author mocks the intellectuals that can talk endlessly on Law, Liberty, Equality, Capitalism and the like. For these terms are so abstract that everyone has a different meaning for them. Words themselves have no meaning, no power. It is the context in which the words are being used give them meaning. There is no such thing as absolute truth. Truth is always relative. Truth is never ultimate, it is always becoming. Rigid and unalterable laws cannot run a lively world because the world is always changing and so should be the rules of it. The author says that we can improve the quality of life on earth by practicing scientific thinking as best as we can which means to Observe, to Experiment and to Infer and not to be rigid in our conclusions as what seems true today can be proved false tomorrow. We need to discard bad language using which we talk about ideas that have no referents in the real world. They are simply phantoms of our mind. We need to ask ourselves - what are we talking about ? what is it refering to in the real world ? What is the proof it is real ? By thinking and talking realistically we can have a good communication with our people which alone can save the world. This is the essence of the whole book. A very intellectual and thought provoking book. A must read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Richard Snow

    Mr. Chase was an economist and a reformer during the New Deal era with FDR. This book was published in 1938 as 'fascism' of different varieties was rising in Italy and Germany when the United States had not entered the conflict. Chase draws on prominent figures of the era to analyze the use of language in communication, and proposes that if we were to agree on the meaning of the words we use we could improve communications and eliminate conflict in the public sphere. I particularly enjoyed readin Mr. Chase was an economist and a reformer during the New Deal era with FDR. This book was published in 1938 as 'fascism' of different varieties was rising in Italy and Germany when the United States had not entered the conflict. Chase draws on prominent figures of the era to analyze the use of language in communication, and proposes that if we were to agree on the meaning of the words we use we could improve communications and eliminate conflict in the public sphere. I particularly enjoyed reading his elegant prose. He is an intellectual, but his examples are very down to earth. The present political context illuminates his argument, the degree to which political speech is disconnected from reality. I am in disagreement with Mr. Chase as much as our politicians practice the art of dissembling, rather than trying to communicate clearly. In the later chapters, Chase briefly discusses the WPA and welfare programs and their opposition in congress during the depression. I found it worth reading, and an education on the era of the great depression leading up to WWII.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Doug DesCombaz

    Fun to read on an unintended level as an artifact or time-capsule for the context of being written 8 decades ago (1938) prior to US involvement in WWII US. It took me a bit to realize the author wasn't just making a reference to Hitler (or whatever my first clues were) as a historic figure. The author provides many examples of arguments over economic systems (and other things) that haven't changed in all of these decades. He shared a funny experiment of asking a number of different people their Fun to read on an unintended level as an artifact or time-capsule for the context of being written 8 decades ago (1938) prior to US involvement in WWII US. It took me a bit to realize the author wasn't just making a reference to Hitler (or whatever my first clues were) as a historic figure. The author provides many examples of arguments over economic systems (and other things) that haven't changed in all of these decades. He shared a funny experiment of asking a number of different people their definition of the word Fascism (which is apropos to today). Tons of typos. Kind of strange if it is considered a classic that after 8 decades so many typos haven't been fixed. I am not sure where this book was recommended, but it was recommended as a classic of semantics. I'm not a big fan of reading classics if there have probably been decades of improvements on the thoughts. It's a casual style: more like a smart person at a dinner party lamenting the abuse of language.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sawyer Donk

    Loved it, and I’m sure I will remember this as being a intellectually formative title. I’ve never given the subject of semantics much though but Stuart Chase argues stylishly and effectively the importance of its study. I’m already diving into the books in the bibliography. After around page 250 or so, Chase stops talking about theory and applies it to practical problems. Being an economist, the following chapters involve right and left wing economics, American law, and politics of his time. I fou Loved it, and I’m sure I will remember this as being a intellectually formative title. I’ve never given the subject of semantics much though but Stuart Chase argues stylishly and effectively the importance of its study. I’m already diving into the books in the bibliography. After around page 250 or so, Chase stops talking about theory and applies it to practical problems. Being an economist, the following chapters involve right and left wing economics, American law, and politics of his time. I found this to be boring most of the time, and really had to work my way through it, but, there were gems sprinkled through out these chapters that served as motivation to continue and find another.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Liquidlasagna

    one of the classics Chase - The Tyranny of Words Hayakawa - Language in Action Wilson - Language and the Pursuit of Truth

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Chism

    Find the first couple of three star reviews for this book and they do a great job of summing up my thoughts.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Pangaea Marianas

    This was my first exposure to Mr. Chase, it was recommended me by various sources as I delve into General Semantics. I find it likely that it will be my last Chase. This book did not chalk my cue stick. There were a few tidbits which were worthy of jotting, but the entirety of extracted material was not in sufficient proportion to its 350+ pages to warrant a positive review. In my opinion, Mr. Chase's mind is not a necessary partner in the quest for 21st century enlightenment and I do not plan t This was my first exposure to Mr. Chase, it was recommended me by various sources as I delve into General Semantics. I find it likely that it will be my last Chase. This book did not chalk my cue stick. There were a few tidbits which were worthy of jotting, but the entirety of extracted material was not in sufficient proportion to its 350+ pages to warrant a positive review. In my opinion, Mr. Chase's mind is not a necessary partner in the quest for 21st century enlightenment and I do not plan to pursue a further relationship with him.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dina

    For somebody who is trying to expose the tyranny of words, the author uses too many words. On a serious note - the book makes sense. Our language is severely lacking, and most of the time talk but don't communicate. I wish we had one universal language and its okay to use abstract words but they should not be mixed with reality. For somebody who is trying to expose the tyranny of words, the author uses too many words. On a serious note - the book makes sense. Our language is severely lacking, and most of the time talk but don't communicate. I wish we had one universal language and its okay to use abstract words but they should not be mixed with reality.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gigglepie

    Most of the text so far seems dedicated to illustrations of the points he's trying to make, but these illustrations are redundant and long-winded (and not necessarily based in reality). I just read a set of pages that could have gotten their message across with 1/8th of the word-count. The word-to-content ratio in this book is too skewed for me to deal with and I give up. Most of the text so far seems dedicated to illustrations of the points he's trying to make, but these illustrations are redundant and long-winded (and not necessarily based in reality). I just read a set of pages that could have gotten their message across with 1/8th of the word-count. The word-to-content ratio in this book is too skewed for me to deal with and I give up.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy Ele

    The last 100 pages of this book were really hard to get through. It all of a sudden became very boring to me especially when it came to economic and judicial word abstractions. I enjoyed the first 300 pages immensely, and that is why I rated it 4 stars.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Weston

    EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS! No questions ask, just go buy it now. You'll probably need to get if offline; I think it's out of print. It will teach you invaluable lessons about the words we use to communicate and how they should be used. EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS! No questions ask, just go buy it now. You'll probably need to get if offline; I think it's out of print. It will teach you invaluable lessons about the words we use to communicate and how they should be used.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Wesley Johnson

    A great introduction to the basic logic behind semantics, this book also gives an interesting perspective to the United States just before WWII.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mokokoma Mokhonoana

    The book introduces Semantics to the reader. A discipline that decontaminate a thinker's mind, and, leaves one Intellectually Humble. The book introduces Semantics to the reader. A discipline that decontaminate a thinker's mind, and, leaves one Intellectually Humble.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Almuhalab Saléh

  24. 5 out of 5

    Greg Thomas

  25. 4 out of 5

    Evaldas Einikis

  26. 5 out of 5

    Peter Ševčík

  27. 5 out of 5

    Paul Ng

  28. 5 out of 5

    Peter Skinnes

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Peterson

  30. 5 out of 5

    Claudia Negrea

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.