- / -
The purpose of the exercise described here is to determine whether the language of policy-making in English is highly dependent on a relatively limited set of conceptual operators and to order these so as to enable questions to be raised concerning the possibility -- and even the necessity -- of identifying other kinds of operator that might be vital to emergence of new paradigms. An additional concern is the possibility that the failure of management worldwide to engage in more than reactive responses to the world problematique -- first identified by the Club of Rome in the 1970s -- may be partly due to the inadequacies of this framework.
The following two tables (Tables 1 and 2) constitute a single table that has been split for viewing and printing convenience. It is the result of an experiment in identifying a particular group of prefixes that is associated with terminology characteristic of strategy development and policy-making, notably at the international level.
This paper fllows from early work (Judge, 1971) for Committee on Conceptual and Terminological Analysis (COCTA), originally established within the framework of the International Political Science Association by Fred Riggs [more].
Curiously there has been a spate of interest in prefixes in relation to the development of the English language in response to the technical and behavioural opportunities of cyberspace and the dot.com revolution [more]. This raises question of how conceptual frameworks are engendered to sustain burgeoning mindsets.
The prefixes encountered with greatest frequency appear as the column heads of Table 1, those of lower frequency as columns heads of Table 2. The operational root terms with which the prefixes may be variously associated are given in the rows. The row labels on the left are common to both tables, and a number is added for convenience in referring between the tables. The labels in italics are part of tentative effort to label both columns and rows with a view to grouping them. It is such groups that result in the ordering of the rows.
The original intention was to postion the prefixes in order of greatest frequency in Table 1 (and then in Table 2) and to position the rows of greater frequency in descending order in Table 1 (and then Table 2). This has not been done here. Instead the rows are sorted alphabetically by group (the italicized label).
|.||Table 1||.||Re-||De-||Dis- / Di-||Pro- /Pre-||Co-||In- / Im-||Ex- / E-||A- / Ab-|
|.||.||.||Retro-||.||.||.||Com- / Con-||Into-||Extro-||.|
From / Away
For / Forward
|Together / With||
On / Upon
|2||-script||Attribute||Rescript||Description||.||Prescription / Proscription||Conscript||Inscription||.||Ascription|
|6||-duce||Change||Reduce||Deduce||.||Produce||Conducive||Induce||Educe|| Adduce /
|12||-cession||Cut||Recession||.||.||Procession / Precession||Concession||.||.||Accession|
|21||-fer(ence)||Match||Refer(ence)||Defer(ence)||Differ||Proffer / Prefer(ence)||Confer(ence)||Infer(ence)||.||.|
|22||-verse||Mirror||Reverse||.||Diverse||Proverse||Converse / Covert
|36||-form(ation)||Shape||Reform(ation)||Deform(ation)||Disformity?||Preform / Proforma?||Conform||Inform(ation)||.||.|
|44||-vise / vision||View||Revision||Devise||Division||Provision/Prevision||.||.||.||.|
|.||.||.||Ac- / At-||.||.||.||Oc- / Of- / Op-||.||Supra-||.|
|44||-vise / vision||View||Advise||.||.||Envision||.||.||Supervision||.|
The procedure was to identify some extensive lists of prefixes in English on the web [more; more; more; more; more] . These were culled to remove the many that did not appear to relate to organizational action in any significant way. The challenge was to identify root terms that could then be appended to more than a few prefixes -- arbitrarily limited to 5. This was essentially done by brainstorming (with the kind assistance of Nadia McLaren) and testing for the existence of rare variants in dictionaries and on the web.
There was some question of whether to allocate separate columns to some prefixes of related significance, notably: Dis- and Di-; Con-, Com- and Co-; Ex-, E- and Extro-; as well as Pro- and Pre-. The decision was made to combine them for reading convenience. In the case of rows, parentheses have been used to indicate the possibility of grammatical variants with which the prefix may be used, as with -sent(ment). But some rows were kept separate, even though there is a case for combining them, as in the case of: -tent(ion) and -tend. There was also some question as to whether items should be included if there were phonetic equivalents (perhaps arising from evolution of spelling) that suggested that they constituted an appropriate fit -- even though spellings were different, as in the case of Obsession. These have been marked with a query.
The process should not be considered exhaustive. Other interesting prefixes may be included and it is certainly the case that other roots can be added. Of particular interest is that certain common prefixes were not associated with many hits against the range of roots -- and were therefore excluded. These may be tentatively grouped as follows:
The focus here on prefixes might be considered artificial and incidental to the organization implied by the prefixes (as labelled in the columns by italicized prepositions). The prefixes are however used as devices for engendering modes of operation through their "marriage" with the root actions (defined by the italicized labels of the rows). They might be understood as generative metaphors. However it might also be argued that conveying meaning with the use of a prefixed term, rather than by using a preposition with an appropriate term, is a grammatical device of little semantic relevance
Why is so much weight and attention given to "propositions" -- and so little to "prepositions" -- so much to operational "fixes" and so little to "prefixes"?
Matters relevant to these points have been explored by Edward de Bono, leading to his proposal for a new word "po" (PO: beyond YES and NO. 1972). This is not a descriptor -- except to describe a conceptual de-patterning device itself (whether as noun, adjective or adverb) -- but a means of legitimately placing a creative question mark against the categories and category-systems which have to be used in the grammatically correct sentences required for effective communication. The word is not a neologism in the conventional sense since all neologisms tend to be descriptors. His proposed word would have a status similar to the logical operators AND, NOT, OR, etc which are each the basis for an important conceptual operation between categories. (see Categorical Straightjackets: PO -- A suggestion for a de-patterning device for international organization descriptions. 1974)
It might be asked why some prefix operators are associated with many more root operational terms than others. This is notably the case with Re-, Con- and Pro-. Does this imply some sort of "unhealthy" imbalance -- the over-development of particular conceptual muscles in the intellectual gymnasium of life? Is there an excessive commitment to a particular part of the geometry of the array? Indeed, why is so much effort put into Pro- and Re- without any real capacity to renew our world sustainably?
The questions to which this array gives rise include:
There should be interesting possibilities for further column and row organization
Related approaches to such ordering have been explored in the light of Arthur Young's The Geometry of Meaning (see table in Varieties of experience of past-present-future complexes, 2001). Consideration might also be given to the eight-fold organization of the "houses" of the I Ching [more].
With regard to what might be missing as terms in any representation along the lines of a periodic table, one interesting approach might be that of Henry Burger's Wordtree -- a reverse dictionary arranged in micro-processes from simple to complex.
The column headings of the tables offer a range of operations in relation to orientation in space-time. These are most obvious in the case of physical space: from, to, away, etc. It is their analogues in what might be termed communication or knowledge space that are potentially more interesting in relation to policy-making issues.
It would be useful to confront this set of operations with a more systemic set in relation to navigation with a coordinate system in space-time. Curiously this offers a justification for the preoccupation with the symbolism of compass directions North, South, etc) in many traditions -- notably that of Taoism. It is through the symbolism that the relevance to navigation in knowledge and communication space become more evident.
The focus here is on English as the primary language for strategic and commercial discourse in the international community, especially in the United Nations. It is this language which dominates and which is likely to dominate to a greater degree under the emerging strategy for American hegemony -- however it is implemented in practice. Interesting however is the fact that English inherits many of the prefixes of Latin as the language of the Roman Empire. In addition, many of the countries that have engaged in imperial initiatives of past centuries have tended to use languages based on Latin (eg French, Spanish, Portugese, Italian, English).
English has become the primary language of official discourse in the European Community. The other Germanic languages have had to develop an accomodation to it. The challenge with the enlargement of the community will be how the Slavic languages engage with this framework.
Especially challenging for the global strategy of the future will be the relation of English to the Arab-speaking countries, but also to the languages of Africa. Whilst in many such cases there is indeed accomodation and English may be used as a lingua franca, the question for concern is the extent to which this facility disguises dimensions of logical incompatibility that only emerge in practice during the course of implementation of programs. Such programs may appear coherent and logical in English, but this coherence may be lost within the mindsets dependent on other frameworks that have their own form of coherence (cf Andreas Fuglesang). For Henry Bourgoin, western managerial models slide of the Afican mindset "like drops of water on a manioc leaf" ( L'Afrique Malade du Management, 1984). It is Magoroh Maruyama (see below) who has most effectively drawn attention to this challenge. But its consequences are clearly evident in the many studies of mergers of multinational corporations using personnel of differently cultures and language groups.
Of great interest is the possibility that some cultures have operators of greater power or ingenuity than those associated with the prefixes above (cf Encyclopedia of Conceptual Insights from the World's Cultures, 1988). One way to use the array above would be to explore the extent to which analogous semantic content of other languages mapped into it -- in order to highlight dimensions not held by the array as it stands. Whether the grammatical structure uses prefixes or prepositions, or other devices, to what extent do other languages have content for each cell in the array here -- or require other operational columns or rows? Such questions may prove to be a valuable contribution to integration of policies across regions such as the extended European Community. Minimally they suggest a way of identifying key operational concepts and their equivalents between langages.
It may prove to be the case that the array is well suited to the way in which "regime change" is envisaged, planned and undertaken -- but is a language that may be only poorly suited to engendering meaningful sustainable development.
The array has built into it assumptions about the organization of space and tme. These may constrain the kinds of viable organization that can emerge -- and the patterns of relationships with and between them. This is the corollary to the insight of Gregory Bateson (Mind and Nature: a necessary unity, 1979) that it is "the pattern that connects" -- and all quality is jeopardized by its destruction. In this case it may be necessary to ensure the emergence of a pattern to connect in order to provide a template for the qualities appropriate to sustainable dvelopment.
As a framework, the array above is a mechanism par excellence to engender "grids". Examples include:
The question is to what extent the array may effectively be understod as a system of conceptual "monkey bars" which define and bound a particular evironment but preclude other dimensions from being explored or considered meaningful. These may be dimensions that are meaniungful in other languages or perhaps to the arts and notably to poetry (see Poetry-making and Policy-making: Arranging a Marriage between Beauty and the Beast. 1993)
In a series of articles, Magoroh Maruyama has studied patterns of cognition, perception, conceptualization, design, planning and decision processes (see (Mindscapes, social patterns and future development of scientific theory types, 1980). His central concern is the role of epistemological types, especially as they affect cross-disciplinary, cross-professional, cross-paradigm and cross-cultural communications. [summary]
Although he carefully emphasizes that there are many possible mindscapes or paradigms, Maruyama argues that "for practical purposes" it is useful to distinguish four main types. He stresses that these are not meant to be either mutually exclusive nor exhaustive and warns that any attempt at separating them into non-overlapping categories "is itself a victim of a paradigm which assumes that the universe consists of non- overlapping categories". Over the years he has continued to struggle with the same attributes, grouping them first into three types, extended to four, then to five and now seemingly stabilized at four again . The four types are:
The array above is a reflection of thinking in the light of Maruyama's H-mindscape.
It is through the above array that the day is seized and the challenge of Carpe Diem is taken up. Not only is it a framework through which the world is observed and "read" (a grille de lecture) but it is effectively a conceptual (if not an existential) "exoskeleton" that empowers and enhances capacities to interact with "reality". As such it is a basic determinant of operacy as explored by Edward de Bono through two books: Six Thinking Hats (1987) and Six Action Shoes (1991). Operacy is the skill of action, of getting things done and making things happen -- which he equates with literacy and numeracy. They build on a well-publicized series of his earlier books dealing with creative approaches to problem-solving, notably in corporate policy-making environments. He argues that, to get a well-rounded view, a committee needs to look at issues wearing a succession of colour-coded hats (or shoes), corresponding to different styles of thought (or action).
This enhanced ability to navigate reality might be usefully discussed as a conceptual analogue to proprioception, itself currently of great interest in the physical fitness industry:
"Understanding how movement affects efficiency can lead to understanding how the body communicates with itself. The strong influence of yoga, martial-arts-based programs and other whole-body programs has swung the door open for more program possibilities. With the new emphasis on creating a connection between mind, body, spirit and emotion, body awareness represents the next frontier of movement education." [more]
Proprioception may be understood as an automatic sensitivity mechanism in the body that sends messages through the central nervous system. Unconscious initially, human beings can "train" for proprioception in the quest for efficient everyday movements. Through conscious appreciation and cognitive processing of the body's position in space, the central nervous system and sensory receptors can be conditioned to be more responsive to length and tension in the muscles and tendons. [more]
The array may then be understood as a system of operations and operators for defining, processing and consuming reality -- and for farming, mining and exploiting it. As such it can be "played". like an organ or any other complex musical instrument. This is the skill deployed by experienced negotiators. Some of the implications of this have been explored in an earlier paper (Navigating Alternative Conceptual Realities: clues to the dynamics of enacting new paradigms through movement, 2002)
For Arnold Keyserling (1999): "Wisdom is the ability to live in a chaotic world. It requires the "knowledge behind the knowledge," which means an understanding of the hardware of the mind, its structure, as opposed to the software - the particular languages, sciences, and religions which the mind creates." [more] The process might be described in terms of "grokking" (see Authentic Grokking: Emergence of Homo conjugens, 2003) involving the enactivism explored by Francisco Varela and others (1991, 1987)
In practice the above array can be seen at work in relation to any theme by which the international community is "seized". Whether it be water, women, rust, or refugees, the array operators gets applied: protest, propositons, consumption, etc. The pattern of their application constitutes a system with whose component operations different groups may be associated.
Henry Bougoin. L'Afrique Malade du Management. Editions Jean Picollec, 1984 (Collection Perspective 2000)
Andreas Fuglesang. About Understanding: ideas and observations on cross-cultural communication. The Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, 1982.
Erich Jantsch. The Self-Organizing Universe: scientific and human implications of the emerging paradigm of evolution. Pergamon, 1980.
Arnold Keyserling. Wisdom and the Wheel. 1999 [text]
Magoroh Maruyama. Mindscapes, social patterns and future development of scientific theory types. Cybernetica, 1980, 23, 1, pp. 5-25 [summary]
Rene Thom. Structural Stability and Morphogenesis; an outline of a general theory of models. Benjamin, 1975
Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson and Eleanor Roach. The Embodied Mind: cognitive science and human expression. MIT Press, 1991
Francisco Varela. Laying down a path in walking. In: W. Thompson (Ed.), Gaia: A way of knowing. (pp. 48-64). Lindisfarne Press, 1987
Arthur M. Young. Geometry of Meaning. 1978 [extract]
this work is licenced under a creative commons licence.