I did hint at developing a detailed version of my taxonomy of utterance, and finally here it is. Straight to the thing:
|Statement||/i do X/, /I X/|
|Request||/i need X/, /I deserve X/|
|Description||/i see X/|
|Fictions||Possibilities||/if i do X/|
|Recipe||/do X, then do Y, then …/|
|Generalizations||Speculation||/i guess X/|
|Formalization||/for every X/|
|Symbolism||/X + n/|
Each four classes of utterances constitute a level of forms of expression. The first is the level of Claims.
- The first proposed class of utterances exceeds a bit the universe proposed before, but i felt it was needed to hint at a lower threshold of utterance, where a behavior is not directly aimed at communicating, but could be considered like it by an observer. The prototype of it is someone shouting after getting hurt.
- The second class is what i at first called “general form of utterance”. It is a basic negotiating of behavior, or attempt at synchronizing behavior, and the only way an individual can do that directly is by publicizing his own behavior. You don’t throw a law or a concept at someone’s head, you punch him. That is why every utterance reflects behavior. Therefore, every utterance is also a way to negotiate behavior, no matter how much abstraction levels we accumulate.
- The third class publicizes a property of the speaker that is a relationship with it’s society and environment. It expresses the action of wanting something, which might seem a passive action.
- The fourth class of claims progresses beyond the limits of individual action, by talking about properties of things. Nevertheless, the form of such claims is still a description of the behavior of the speaker: it claims an action of perception.
Here, the speaking subject is publicizing his own behavior, talking about actions that she performs herself. The notion of verbal time is not present in the level of claims. Example: the phrase /the apple is red/ does not concern the apple being red exactly now, some minutes ago, or forever — it is not that claims deal with concepts that are in themselves out-of-time, but merely that claims lack the mechanisms needed to negotiate the timeness of it’s matter.
- The first class of Fictions is when the speaker talks about an action that does not happen. He might threaten to do something, or wonder at things he might dream about doing, or, simply, outrightly lie. Either way, he is using the behavior-publicizing behavior common to Claims to something that is not experienced, at least at first — therefore, it still a negotiation of behavior even if it not visible.
- The second class takes this indirection of the action at hand a bit further. In Telling the speaker refers to an action or a set of actions in such a way that his present actions and utterances do not interfere with the action told. It resembles a Description, in that the speaker is detached from an object he is speaking of. Even if the speaker is telling a story he lived himself, it is a Fiction and not a Claim if the action being negotiated is not a present circumstance but instead a set of future ones.
- Next class encompasses commands and orders. Although this is a direct negotiation of behavior, it is a Fiction because the speaker does not experience the behavior in question. He deals with a set of experiences that are detached from his own life. It is like an affirmation of a Possibility.
- The last class of Fictions is the purposeful and directional chaining of many actions. In this way it is possible to speak of very complex circumstances and things. It is more than a mere sequence of Imperatives — you can have a Recipe for yourself. In a way the Recipe borders metalanguage, as it expresses relationships between utterances.
The level of utterances described by this four classes provides tools to deal with such ideas as timeness of actions, causality, litterature, and many other areas of culture. But the core of Fictions is that they allow speaking of more than one circumstance and action at the same time. In this level we are dealing with sets of actions. And we do not actually need to completelly define or outline those sets before we speak of them. In this way, Fictions provide an degree of abstraction that can sometimes blind the speaker to the real depth of what he says. The negotiation of behavior that all utterances are seem to dissolve itself into another world, into an realm of ideas.
- The first class of Generalizations attempts to expose in language somethings that are outside the sets of actions exposed through fiction. It’s basic form is hypothetical thinking, but it can also appear as mithologies and fanciful constructions of ideas, like the Ether or the Kingdom of Father John. Speculations often proceed through metaphors, ascribing characteristics from something known to something unknown.
- The second class uses language-artifacts to express abstract relationships between sets of ideas. Expressions such as “for every” and “if and only if” are basic examples of Formalizations. Formalizations permit manipulation of what is said through language based mechanisms. Those mechanisms are basically forms of rewriting the expressions that allow further analysis or insight.
- This class of utterances represent a formalization of Imperatives. It is a set of conditions that should always be followed or obeyed. As such, it is not so much a negotiation but an expression of the stabilization of a series of negotiations. Examples include the Laws of Dynamics and a nation’s Constitution. Rules are, therefore, expected to be reliable.
- The last class of utterances again pushes the limits of the universe initially propposed, representing a upper threshold of utterance. They are not so much utterances but machines: Symbolisms must work in univocal, predictable and straightforward ways. Here, all meaning should be conveyed by an arbitrary and rigidly coded set of elements, whose workings and mechanisms are pre-stablished and handy.
Although we repeatedly name the originator of utterances /speaker/, those classes encompass every channel of language — talking, writing, pantomime, electrical binary codification, and so on.
It is very easy to approach this taxonomy as an genetic explanation of language. That is, an attempt to explain something through telling it’s story. It is very important to avoid such a trap! It is irrelevant if the first man to speak used a Growl, an Imperative or a Statement.
The aim of this Taxonomy of Utterances is (like any other taxonomy) merely to define a hierarchical and clear order between it’s categories, allowing us to think clearly about them, and to explore possible movements through the forming axis of the taxonomy — in this case, abstraction.
But i fear the margin are too short.