Here, we discuss a “mental algorithm” for figuring out the meaning of terms involving a connected pair of words. E.g. – Washing soda / baking soda, Hyderabad chilly, (romantic) love-birds, arranged marriage, house-arrest etc.
That is, a procedure for mechanically figuring out the meaning of such words. It is claimed here, to be also similar in many aspects, and in parts to the way the mind works for solving such problems, in early years (i.e. when children come across terms for the first time). And it can also be incorporated in a machine.
(Note : We are only considering commonsense-connections which young children can make.
Also, it is assumed you know the meaning (one meaning at least) of both the words).
Consider Baking soda –
- Firstly, the word is mainly the second of the 2 words. That is, here – ‘soda’. Baking soda is a soda, it is not a baking (say, a process/style… of baking).
So the first question is – WHAT soda? This ‘WHAT’ is the general, broad query about soda. That is, what kind of soda, what colour soda, what property-soda etc. All this is summed up in ‘WHAT soda’?
- It is Baking Soda.
- So there is soda, and there is the process of Baking. The process of Baking has to be connected to soda.
- How can soda be integrated in Baking? (How can the second word be integrated into the first?)
Point : There is a point worth mentioning at this stage. Logically there are infinite ways of connecting the 2 words. But they should make common sense. It should be something similar to something you have already seen or experienced. For example, if someone asks a child what a bird-bag is, one answer is a bag with a bird attached to it. But this isn’t something that is seen/experienced and existing commonplace. ().
- Here come cases. Firstly, there are 4 cases of the word-pairs.
i) Physically Picturizable – Physically Picturizable (Washing soda)
ii) Physically Picturizable – Abstract (House arrest)
iii) Abstract – Physically Picturizable (Love birds)
iv) Abstract – Abstract (Arranged marriage)
The first 2 are similar because the first word in them is Physically picturizable whereas the last 2 are similar because the first word in them is Abstract (non-picturizable). You can physically picturize the process of washing and obviously also soda. But you cannot have a physical picture of love (or say, things like day, occasion, weight etc.)
- If the term is of types (i) and (ii), then try to literally physically-cum-pictorially insert the second word into the physical picture of the first word, in the sense of actual CONTAINMENT, TOUCHING or SURROUNDING NEARBY. (Insert it into the picture). Try possibilities.
Check for commonsense – whether such a thing exists. (By the way, commonsense is the whole theme of the entire exercise).
- If the term is of types (iii), then
b.1) ANALYSE the first word as to – what all aspects are there to it?
b.2) Take an aspect
b.3) Check if the second word has an almost literal/actual role-playing place as it (in
that aspect, or in the first word by itself). (As mentioned at the intermediate ‘Point’, it should make common sense and not just be only logically valid).
- If the term is of type (iv), then
c.1) ANALYSE both the words as to – what all aspects are there to each?
c.2) Take all possible pairs of aspects (This is where the second of the 3 parts of the claim mentioned at the very beginning of this document – algorithm for how the mind works – takes a beating).
c.3) Check if the second word has an almost literal/actual role-playing place as it (in
that aspect, or, in the first word by itself). (As mentioned at the very beginning, it should make common sense and not just be only logically valid).
Lets see examples (from STEP 5 onwards) –
- Baking soda – we continue our example above. Washing soda is of type (i). So try to literally physically-pictorially insert ‘soda’ into the physical picture of ‘the baking process’, in the sense of actual CONTAINMENT, TOUCHING or SURROUNDING NEARBY. (Insert it into the picture).
Imagine the picture of the process of baking. And imagine soda. Where can the soda fit in? Fuel for the fire? NO. The correct possibility is soda used (as/) in the subject being baked.
- Hyderabad chilly – This is again an example of type (i). Picturize Hyderabad and insert the chilly into the city of Hyderabad. So, a chilly from Hyderabad.
Or being more specific, one may reduce it to – What does the picture of Hyderabad, in general, contain? Roads, fields, Government, people, buildings etc. So chilly from Hyderabad fields (lands).
- House arrest – This is an example of type (ii). So imagine an arrest inside (a picture of) a house. So an arrest inside a house.
- (Romantic) Love-birds – This is an example of type (iii) since love cannot be physically picturized. So, take aspects of love – 1) 2 agents 2) feelings in their hearts about each other 3) being together etc. The second word – birds – fits role-playing-ly exactly into ‘2 agents’ (aspect 1). So, agents involved in love. (The birds (people) are the agents in love).
(*Another possible meaning is – 2 (actual) birds in love. The second word – birds – fits role-playing into 2 agents, making it into 2 actual birds in love.)
- Arranged Marriage – This is an example of type (iv) since both cannot be physically picturized.
So take aspects of Arrangement – 1) agents 2) relative positions 3) connections etc.
And the aspects of marriage – 1) 2 agents 2) they living in a legal staying-together relationship etc.
The agents who are marrying fit role-playing-ly in the agents of arrangement (aspect 1 of the latter fits into aspect 1 of the former). Hence agents (2 people) arranged into a marriage.