by Leon Jakobovits James (c) 1975 University of Hawaii

NOTES ON ETHNOSEMANTICS (ES)

 


1. ES is the study of the standardized semantic structure of a cultural group. The ethnosemantic structure of a cultural group is displayed in the situated discourse of its participants.

2. A basic premise of ES is that discourse is evoked by ethnosemantic coordinates (see below). Hence the functional analysis of actual discourse performances by participants reveals the underlying ethnosemantic structure of the group.

3. ES coordinates are discourse mechanisms that function dialectically to evoke standardized relationships between conceptual units (words, symbols, ideas, morphemes, semantic features, and etc., viz. whatever can be labeled by a word or dictionary entry).

4. ES coordinates obey the principles of mechanical generation. A model of discourse that is mechanically generative is consistent with the contemporary scientific perspective on the Universe that sees everything there is, all activity and process, including "the thought process" and the "creations of the mind," as a unified system of interconnected entities, none of which is "free" or "outside"   its deterministic/causative principles of governance (order, Rule, Nature, God). Thus, ES is essentially the escatological scientific disciplines, the very foundations of knowledge. More simply, ES is the investigation of the nature of understanding.

5. ES coordinates are mathematical or formal objects that behave according to the "laws of geometry". Thus, the simplest geometric object commonly known is the point. The point represents the simplest ES coordinate: the anchor concept. The class of anchor concepts is a finite list dictionary is an alphabetized arrangement of the standard anchor concepts The discourse of participants displays their repertoire of anchor concepts, but no known methods exist today for an exhaustive cataloguing of participants overall repertoire.

6. The next simplest ES coordinate is that symbolized in Geometry as a connecting two points. The commonly known discourse dialectic of Opposition falls in this category:

                                           GOOD         Opposition           BAD
                                                       <=============>
                                                                    Line

Others include synonymy, part-whole relation, word-associate, etc., are known in the literature. Classification schemes exist, and more can be invented, that exhibit many types of relationship between words. These approaches suffer from a lethal internal weakness: no adequate rationale has yet been proposed for a classification scheme that would be sufficiently comprehensive, by reference to the very large number of anchor points (words). Roget's Thesaurus is the only notable exception. However, Roget's classification, though admirable (and should be considered an ES work), is subjective and personal, even if clarifying. ES solves this basic problem by specifying a notation system for the mechanical generation of the classification. Thus, a geometric line, represents the first level of relationship between anchor points. Instead, now, of attempting to develop a typology of such relationships the ES notation system generates the next   highest level of relationship, whatever it may be by reference to some arbitrary or specialized typology.

7. The line is a geometric figure that connects two anchor points, second level of relationship is defined as a triangle, which connects three anchor points. The selection of this third anchor point is not subjective or arbitrary. A standardized, evocative method,  called "The method of triangular resolution," is used.  In practice, the investigator considers the two anchor points and selects (either spontaneously or with the aid of a lexicon, see below) a third anchor point which represents the dialectic resolution of a contention point that is specifically implied by the line relating the two anchor points.
For instance the relationship established by connecting the line Good to Bad permits the following four standardized resolutions:
t-2.gif (9980 bytes)
In this illustration, the four resolutions are evoked by four different ES coordinates) each corresponding to a separate specific contention point. The four contention points from (a) to (d) are,
                        (a) Good and Bad are opposites.
                        (b) Good and Bad are evaluations.
                        (c) Good and Bad involve comparison
                        (d) Good and Bad are connected.

Note that the investigator may have a number of alternative expressions that specify a resolution. Thus, for (a) ANTONYMS for (b) JUDGMENT, CRITICISM, for (c) CONTRAST,REFERENCE STANDARD, and for (d) RELATION, ASSOCIATION. For this reason, it is best to think of a resolution as a class of anchor points related to each other by virtue of achieving a resolution to the same contention point. In practice, the investigator selects one term to label the class as a whole. The question of which contention point to select in any particular instance is a practical one and practice and judiciousness are, of course, time savers. Theoretically, all contention points uncovered may be followed up separately. Later, rationales will be given for the selection of contention points that are motivated by practical considerations and specialized interests

8. At this point, note that the classification schemes allowable solely by the method of triangular resolution, are not sufficient to allow a mechanical procedure for their generation. Thus, a very large number of anchor points,can be connected by a line, two at a time, and second level relationship can be generated by the method of triangular resolution. One would then be able to classify the entire lexicon of a language into so
many separate triads of anchor points. A reduction of noise in the system is thus effected, with a three-fold increase in organization. No further systematic increase in organization is easily foreseeable after that the problem being essentially the same as that which plagues the methods used thus far. What's needed, then, is a notation system that would allow the investigator to continue to iterate the mechanical procedure of resolving contention points, until all the words in the lexicon are exhausted, thus yielding a complete classification of the words in the language. Such an exhaustive iterative process is derivable through the geometric notation system by going to the next two levels of relationship; the quadrangle and the cube.

The third level-of relationship is defined geometrically as the quadrangle,which connects four anchor points, as follows:
                                           watergatesquare.gif (3280 bytes)

In this illustration, the four anchor points shown connected as a quadrangle, are selected pragmatically with a view to showing the potential clarifying property of classifications of events produced by means of a routinized reiterative procedure.* Such an application of the method is called "probe." Thus, the above illustration represents an ES probe (ESP) into what is standardized know ledge on the Watergate Incident. Note that in the quadrangular arrangement, there are six lines connecting the four anchor points. These are identified by the capital letterings
(A,B,C,D,E,F)

Footnote

* Later it will be shown how this property can be used to contrast participants' knowledge of an event or area. Such contrasts, using a target grid of alternative solutions, can be used to measure an individual's understanding of an area or event.

The six lines represent the six resolutions that are possible using each pair of anchor points to imply a contention point. The following pairs are involved:

           A1 - Corruption              B1-Referendum

           A2 - Personal Tragedy     B2- Democracy

           A3 - The Constitution      B3- Entertainment
             t-6a.gif (3807 bytes)

                        C1-Entertainment                          D1 -The Presidency

                        C2-Republican Party                    D2- National Tragedy

                       C3-Politicking                                 D3- Corruption

           t-6b.gif (3814 bytes)

            E1- Congressional Hearings                             F1-Betrayal

            E2- Justice                                                           F2-Leadership

            E3- Congressional Hearings                             F3-Loyalty

                        t-6c.gif (3988 bytes)

This illustration provides three alternative resolutions to each pair of anchor concepts. This is to show that the notation system used in an ES probe will exhaust the relevant lexicon independently of the resolutions selected at places.**

Referring to the quadrangle, we thus have the following three probes:

Probe I                                     Probe 2                                       Probe 3

A1 - Corruption                A2 - Personal Tragedy              A3 - TheConstitution
B1 - Referendum            B2 - Democracy                          B3 - Entertainment
C1 - Entertainment         C2 - Politicking                           C3 -RepublicanParty
D1- The Presidency       D2 - National Tragedy                D3 - Corruption
E1- Congressional         E2 - Justice                                 E3 - Congressional
        Hearings                                                                               Hearings                                                                                                                                                              
F1 - Betrayal                     F2 - Leadership                          F3 - Loyalty

The contention points evoked by pairing the anchor concepts are transparent and can be reconstructed by other investigators. A few examples appear below:

A1 Nixon's role in Watergate raises serious issues about the widespread corruption in public life.

B2 The American People saw the issue of impeachment as fundamental to their ideas about democracy.

D2 : Many Americans viewed Nixon's, impeachment as an outcome that 2 would be tantamount to a national tragedy.

E3 : The possibility of impeachment of the president for his role 3 in Watergate was strengthened by the evidence uncovered at the congressional hearings.

F1 : A serious implication of Nixon's own tapes is that he had betrayed The American People (or The American People felt betrayed etc).

Footnote:

**Note that, at this second level of resolution, the apparent increase in organization is negligent (from 4 anchor concepts to 6 conceptualizations, with a total of 10 words from a lexicon related to the issue that runs into the hundreds and more). Neither is there much improvement in the clarification of the issues that might be involved upon closer examination.


Footnote:
*To convince yourself of this, as well as for reasons specified elsewhere (see Section on Hints , start writing down all the concepts you can think of that relate directly to the whole Watergate Affair Period.

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