I was going to post about how language shapes our thought and perceptions of reality but I see someone already did.
OP: Great post, I totally agree with all your points.
But I think there might be something kind of subtle that is getting missed here. Consider this:
In most languages, there are words that are from, or stem from, other languages. Obviously English is a major example of this, but even other
languages have that.
I am told that in German, new words have often been formed when the need arose, and that they were hilariously long and practical, in that Round
Thing Which Sits Behind The Square Thing And Is Used For X
(all one word) sort of way. I don't speak German so I don't know. Mark Twain has a
very funny essay on trying to learn German I might add.
In today's world, we have a constant need for new words such as in the technology (and techno-biology) sector. When this happens, usually the people
involved with that development simply come up with a word, that gets published, and we use it from then on.
Existing words in any language are often used for multiple things which have barely anything to do with one another.
Now in some fields, such as metaphysics and I'm referring here to discussion areas with say, chakras and psi as topics, one of the most common
problems is that they seriously lack language. What language does exist, is barely and even horribly suited for the task at hand. One is stuck either
using a word which carries so much baggage and other-meaning that it's worse than wrong, or using a word which is intentionally wrong but
differently-used for the application, or greatly stretching the possible meaning of an existing word. Or, the only language is in some ancient
language, which is (a) not spoken by the user so when used, usually wrongly anyway, and (b) often suffered exactly the problems we have now (paragraph
below), but we don't really grok that here in the future.
Language exists to communicate about a "shared experience" reality: when you have an experience nobody else has shared, there is no language, no
words, that you can use to describe what you truly experienced, because there is no meeting in the middle between you. For example, I could tell you
that when something is perceived via the ajna chakra, you get "perceptual effects" such as "bluer than blue" but that is a lousy way to describe
it, because from a logical, shared-experience language, nobody else is going to understand that; in fact nearly all misuse of words to describe
something which has no words, result in "logical" contradictions on several levels. Of course, people who have had such an experience will
immediately recognize it, even with those wrong words. Then others come into some discussion and the think everyone is talking complete nonsense, it
doesn't even make sense. That is because the words are being used differently and the shared-experience element is a requirement for understanding
their 'new' meaning.
OK now I'm finally getting to the point, all that was prep.
In our culture in the last century we have had so much change that it's mind boggling to consider. And part of this change includes a huge number of
more subtle experiences, individually and as interaction with those around us, which do not have existing words. Our culture as a whole is getting
phenomenally more complex and the subtleties invoked are exponential.
Imagine trying to explain to someone what a 'meme' was a couple centuries ago. Or de-explain what you really mean by something going viral.
Meanwhile, changes in culture and technology have led us -- hilariously -- back to where we began in places. For example: in the old days, they
thought if you got the flu, you were infested by demons, and they bled you. Now, with the 'enlightenment' of science, we know that it's all about
molecules and that molecules are in fact a sort of biological self-contained information unit. You could fairly say that a virus is a message inside a
messenger. The word daemon originally meant messenger, right? So... we are still infested by demons when we get the flu.
Except now we have a
radically different understanding of it. And one reason we don't use those words anymore is because now many of them have "baggage." It doesn't
mean 'messenger' anymore, or even 'that thing everyone knows about but only some people encounter usually in the night,' but rather 'that silly
idea religious nuts rave on about.' The literal meaning of the words didn't change, but the baggage 'context' of how they're interpreted did.
Trivia: in metaphysics, it's said we "catch an idea" not a cold, which is true in the above sense, though perhaps incomplete for explanation.
I think the problem is we are not inventing enough words to cover subtle cultural changes in experience. So people are re-using, wrongly-using,
stretching, substituting, words because they lack what they need.
How did they invent such words way back when? Why don't we now?