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'Secret' & concepts

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by ThomasK, Apr 21, 2013.

  1. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I have just asked about the equivalent of 'secret' at th AL forum, but I started wondering: is the concept in itself negative, or does it only have a negative or positive connotation? I suppose the concept itself cannot be called negative, though we tend to associate hiding, covering (up !) with "negative things", I suppose...

    Or is it typical of any fundamental concept (if that exists) that it can be used in a positive and a negative way (dual use, like with some weapons that prove useful in pacifist contexts ???)? Just wondering, hope for explanation; and of course it would be great if someone could refer to sites or linguistic branches where that is examined or explained.
  2. Ёж! Senior Member

    Before others reply, my question goes: how do you define a 'concept in itself', how can we know what it is? Till the nature of this 'thing in itself' is resolved, I'm afraid the question is meaningless. That is, it will have different meanings for different people, with no agreement possible. What is a concept, in simple and mundane terms?
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2013
  3. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    You tell me, I always have some hunch of something, then try to formulate it, but people then point out that my questions presupposes other notions. I just thought the notion was clear (keeping something hidden is the kind of definition I find), and the wondered if there is a negative connotation to the concept (as such ???), or to the use of the word in different/ several languages. I had thought the concept was hte trans-verbal/ mind definition, the one which leads me to try to use the car key as the door key (but of course these are still keys altogether), or maybe use the same sign for asking someone to lay down something or to slow down. I had also thought the concept was clear-cut because all languages i know ;-( seem to have some concept that can be 'worded' in different ways.

    This might not be correct. Just tell me...
  4. arielipi Senior Member

    In hebrew secret itself isnt negative or positive.
    A man that 'has secrets' then the man is viewed negatively, not the secrets; the secrets though deliver a negative connotation.
    To bypass 'has secrets' and neutrally say that he has secrets we would say 'he keeps some things to himself', or 'there are things he doesnt tell about'.
  5. Ёж! Senior Member

    Maybe the thing is I don't believe in persistent concepts. I hear words, understand meanings, feel feelings, but I have no sense for a persistent concept, nor can I state what it is on the base of my senses. If they'd be persistent, all speakers of all languages would be able to agree on them, but I cannot agree even with myself what, for example, a тайна (one of many Russian words for a 'secret') is. Sometimes I feel it positive, sometimes negative, sometimes neutral, all depends on the mood. In a few words, I don't think we can find out the properties of direct concepts behind our words since the concepts are neither persistent nor universal, and the properties non-existent. All we can explore is meanings of individual words in individual languages.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2013
  6. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    You are dangerously close to Derrida's theory that communication using a natural langauge is impossible because the words (concepts) lack precision.
    However, the life shows us that we communicate, even if not perfectly.
  7. Ёж! Senior Member

    Why does it follow? I cannot equate words and 'concepts', that is, I cannot see a direct one-to-one correspondence between them: even such words as 'the clock' can refer to the same clock either in the state as it was yesterday, working, or as it is today, broken: those are naturally different things for our mind, because they need different treatment; and so on, so a single word can be used in millions of different situations and mean somewhat different things to us. Words lack precision, concepts don't, and we can talk of different experiences (each encoded with its own bunch of concepts) by using the same words.

    I don't see why it should impede understanding any seriously: somehow, basing on my experience and context, I do realise what kind of clock is meant when someone says of it to me, even if sometimes I do grave mistakes. On the contrary, if a single kind of thing was attached to a single word, then there would never be any misunderstanding, which is not the case for humans, it's only the case for computers when they are programmed properly. I am working from the position of common sense of course; if you tell me what is wrong in my reasoning, I'd be grateful.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2013
  8. francisgranada Senior Member

    The Hungarian term for secret is "titok" (most probably of Finno-Ugric origin, but without any connexion to other Hungarian words other then derivates from titok). Without any context, this word does not have any negative connotation. E.g. titok can be something that you are not allowed to know about at all, but it can be also a positive "surprise" prepared for you (lets say a positively intended "temporary" secret). Titok can be also something that you are allowed to know, but you are not allowed to talk about it to anybody else, being it a positive or negative information. Etc ...

    (I don't know if this is an answer to your question ...)
  9. mataripis Senior Member

    In any language, there are positive and negative sides of Secret and Concept. The Tagalog for Secret is "LIHIM" and it is possible that there is mystery behind while Concept is " Kaisipan" or " Hangaring patutunguhan" (the effects of the idea). We have to make secrets to protect the concept of accomplishing something because there are many negative thoughts outside the secrets and concepts.
  10. go_neybee New Member

    The word for Tagalog is "lihim". The connotation can be positive or negative depending on the context. For example, in these phrases...

    Positive: "lihim na pagtingin" = "secret admiration"
    Negative: "lihim na balak" = "secret (evil) plot"

    I'm also noting that the Tagalog word for "secretary" is "kalihim"; "ka-" a prefix close to the English co-(e.g. co-owner). I wonder if "kalihim" was directly taken from the English word "secretary" via American influence.

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