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Tuesday, July 26 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
Opening the Field of Linguistic Design for Thrivability

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2819 Language functions as a complex adaptive system. With time and circumstance, both its building blocks—the words that comprise it—and the guidelines according to which those blocks can be arranged—its grammar—are subject to evolution. Perhaps because it is often considered a function of culture, the question of how such linguistic evolution might be acted upon with intention is rarely considered. Yet language is no more a function of culture than culture of language. The two act interdependent and interdeterminant. And the manner in which disparate elements such as academic developments, political correctness, and pop culture drive linguistic change is both uncoordinated and acting on relatively weak leverage points. The foundational concern of this paper will be the ways in which the structures of language affect human behavior. It will employ existing research from the field of comparative economics to suggest the importance of approaching linguistic evolution from an idealized design perspective arguing that sustainability and thrivability are outcomes which, to be realized, must be supported by the language employed in their pursuit. Though this paper will, to some extent, address the role of neologisms in linguistic evolution, its focus will be on the more foundational aspects of language—on grammatical structures such as verb tense, possessives, pronouns, and article usage—and the behaviors they most readily facilitate. Just as a systems approach to organizational behavior must look beneath events and patterns for the structures and mental models that underlie them, this paper is intended to serve as the starting point of large scale inquiry into the mental models that are embedded in the linguistic structures of English and how they might be altered to better support human wellness. As the first global language, English is not only a convenient central test case for the inquiries of this paper, it is also an impactful one. In investigating the structures of English and the mental models they embody, the field of comparative linguistics will be pertinent providing points of comparison from other languages. By seeing what variations of language have evolved elsewhere, the project of envisioning an idealized version of English will provide itself with a range of possibilities upon which to draw. In that language is adaptive and contextual, it will not be possible for this paper to prescribe a final version of what is being proposed. Rather, the goals of the paper will be to propose the importance of this design question alongside suggestions about possible directions responses to it might take. In that its central argument will be that linguistic design is a field to which time and effort should be dedicated, this paper will also have to address the question of whether the changes proposed are realistic. In arguing that they are, evidence of how this approach has already been successfully employed and a summary description of how existing resources and networks might be employed in its realization will be presented.

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avatar for Louis Klein

Louis Klein

Consortial Partner & President, louis.klein@segroup.de
Vice President Conferences (2015), International Society for the Systems Sciences SIG Chair:    Systems Applications in Business and Industry SIG Chair:    Organizational Transformation and Social ChangeLouis Klein is an internationally recognized expert in the field of systemic change management. He is the founder of the Systemic Excellence Group and has been its CEO since 2001. Louis Klein holds a PhD in sociology. He is the chairman of... Read More →

Tuesday July 26, 2016 3:30pm - 4:00pm
ECCR 1B55

Attendees (2)