I'm tempted to reply with "Physics" - but there's far more to say on the subject matter. IF
such an entity desired to communicate with man,
I don't think he'd use an obtuse and inefficient encoding method adapted for a specific environment. Nor would it write a book. Language itself
would be as inefficient for him to convey divine wisdom, as vice grips and tack hammers are for us to fire bullets. It's a lot to read, but it's
just not something you can understand with a clever one-off or emotional appeal.
(vocal) Language is merely a sophisticated method of associating the frequency of compression waves in the molecules of the environment with the
elicitation of patterns of brain activity necessary to reproduce the patterns of activity in my brain - in yours. While everyone's brain is unique,
they all function more or less the same. For instance, Karen's brain is wired differently than Tim's brain, and those differences are what makes you
an individual. However, they operate similarly enough that we can use the same machine and software to start accurately (though primitively)
start to read people's minds.
. This is significant, because they're using
fMRI technology which only reads consumption of oxygen to infer activity levels. It can't show the pathways by which those regions are communicating
and back and forth the way the more expensive DTI (Diffusion Tensor Imaging) can.
On the low end, simple patterns of alternating pitch, volume, tone, etc, can be correlated with basic emotional states. Mating calls, Hisses and
growls when frightened or antagonistic, the rattling of an appendage to indicate apprehensiveness. These can convey the basic information necessary to
stimulate the production of similar (or functionally useful) brain activity in other creatures that represent intent. Most prominently displayed in
social animals where greater breadth and capacity of information transference are beneficial (to warn of danger or coordinate basic hunting
strategies, for example) - but also to other species as in the example of a rattlesnake which alerts other larger or hazardous animals that could
easily trample and kill the snake to it's presence. This can also be used deceitfully, vi mimicry. As an example, house cats (especially those in
homes with few or no children to vie for the owners attention) are thought to pick up on and exploit a trick of mimicry by adjusting the frequency and
intensity of their purrs to embed segments of 220-520Hz. This falls within the frequency range of the hunger cries of human infants. Essentially, it
mimics a baby's cry to try to invoke our nurturing instincts as a means of conveying the information that they want to be fed.
NS article on feline mimickry
On a more socially and cognitively complex level (mostly within mammals and some birds), often this can lead to more purposefully structured
vocalizations indicating detailed information with associations to objects, environment, and even some abstract concepts. In fact, it was just
reported last month that researchers studying the vocalization of Campbell's Monkeys have found evidence of basic syntax.
ScienceDaily: Syntax in our primate cousins.
Furthermore, Campbell's monkeys combine calls in order to convey different messages. By modifying a call sequence or the order of calls within a
sequence, the messages are changed, and can relay precise information about the nature of the danger (a falling tree, a predator), the type of
predator (eagle, leopard), how the predator was detected (acoustically, visually) but also about social events unrelated to predation (gathering
before the group moves to another site, an encounter with another group of the same species at territory boundaries...
It's already been well evident that humans are "wired for language" - but not any sort of specific language. The above finding adds correlative
support for the proposition that humans are born with an (as of yet undefined) understanding of primitive and nebulous concept of syntax from which
they can begin to infer structure and meaning from context. However, this innate aptitude for correlating vocalization patterns with memories of
observations and abstract concepts seems to be a uniquely adapted function - and not some broader innate skill. For instance, we're woefully poor at
associating those correlative connections to patterns of symbols. And while we can learn to read & write - it comes at the cost of far greater
dedication and effort to forge those neural pathways. You cannot simply immerse a child in a library and expect them to pick up written language the
way you can teach them a language by immersion in a society & culture.
So... in a way, the concept of language is roughly analogous to that of an analog modem on your PC. Just as your PC cannot by any innate qualities of
the machine simply reproduce it's structures of 1s & 0s to a client PC - neither can we innately transfer information on patterns of correlation
necessary to duplicate a mental construct to another person's mind. There would have to be some way of encoding that information to a form capable of
traveling over an otherwise unconnected and incompatible medium, then a method of decoding patterns in that medium back to 1's & 0's. This is
essentially what your old analog modems did. Modem is an anagram for MOdulator/DEModulator. It read the packets of digital information and recreated
it a format that the old POTS handled - then connected to a client PC the same way you connected telephone to telephone when calling someone... and
their modem would pick up the varying analog frequencies and translate them into binary that the client PC could understand. Except that rather than
telephone lines, we use the movement of molecules as the energy from our lungs cascades from molecules to molecule. (This is why, in space, nobody can
hear you scream)
While I've focused on vocalization, remember that it is by no means the only method of language and communication. We also, both consciously and
unconsciously, put a substantial amount of attention into expressing and inferring body language (especially facial gestures), olfactory
production/perception, and other means of biological cues to read each other's mental states. Ever had someone glare or glance at you in a way that
conveyed their intent or mindset more acutely than anything they could have said? Ever won a poker game by picking up on another player's tell?
Structured expressions of body language can convey more than sufficient information and syntax to form a language out of that's just as complex as
spoken language... and we do, in the form of sign language. On the other extreme, we can find pleasure in expressing new and improvised syntax and
language in the form of dance - and have even made a popular recreational game out of the experience (charades). So please, don't think I've
neglected other forms of sensory communication for an "auditory dominant" view. They work in tandem and typically are seamlessly melded into our
perceptions unless actively trying to identify them.
And now that I've explained this much (as well as running out of space), I should get to the crux of my contention mentioned in the first post.
Language has a fatal flaw... it doesn't work. Or rather, it only works just well enough to be useful
, not well enough to be precisely
accurate. Going back to the PC/Modem analogy, one of the differences between it and how we communicate is that modems (being designed for accurate
communication) have been fitted with a vast array of protocols and operations we designed specifically to ensure minimal data loss and
precise error detection and automatic correction.
Language does not have this
luxury. The successful reproduction of mental models is at the mercy of how well inferred the recipient can gauge your intent and apply the correct
correlations. Having several different methods of language working in tandem can provide helpful redundant confirmation - but it's also prone to
undermining this goal in the case purposeful or perceived mixed signals. This can be especially prominent and vexing when you are in situations where
several language systems are prohibited. Internet message boards like ATS, for example, are notorious for being difficult to infer intent - since
we're forced to rely solely on a written language we have no innate aptitude towards. The patterns of facial/body cues, auditory pitch and tone, hand
gestures... they're useless here. We've been forced to adopt methods of translating the intent of our translations of our mental models such as
, emotional states
, [/sarcasm], TO LET PEOPLE KNOW YOU'RE YELLING OR HOW COOL YOU ARE, as well as combination of which used
in such as WHEN YOU'RE REALLY FRICK'IN PO'D.
I'm reaching the limit of my post, and this hasn't even started to touch cognitive disorders, sensory & cognitive blind spots, conformational bias,
the multi-use application of words allowing a single pattern to correlate to several different meanings, hallucinations, illusions, in-group/out-group
identification/demonization, insufficient information... our mental processes and interactions are as much a slip-shod mess as they are elegant.
If god wanted to communicate with us, the most efficient way would be simply hijack your brain and apply the necessary patterns & paths of activity
for proper understanding. The limitations of language and the absence of accurate mental tools for error correction of inference suggest that personal
communication with us is not on his priority list.