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I have several posts on unknown unknowns and how to explore past the veils, walls, time and space problems, but those require probes of some relevant dimension. There is another method that humans do all the time as part of daily living, and that is to attach specific names to specific things. That was explored in the post, Synonyms as a tool for searching for unknown unknowns.

Another method for exploring with words is to heap on a lot of definitional terms to small differences in the field of things being considered. When there are many terms that are understood by the people discussing a phenomenon then a greater understanding of the small differences becomes available for consideration, and as the understanding expands new things that were not formerly observed may be seen and explored. The blizzard of words in various specialties of interest is an example of how this process developed naturally.

What I am suggesting is that when any new idea is to be explored that one intentionally defines, with new words, as many aspects of the idea as possible, and writes up definitions and usages at the beginning. Then, as a vocabulary is developed to cover the ideas, immediately refine the vocabulary to eliminate as much confusion as possible, and standardize the words. The basic facts of the endeavor may have natural vocabulary extensions that could be easily visualized and thus easily remembered. When a standard vocabulary is known then it becomes easier to communicate what will happen as we manipulate things around the idea.

An example: Let us suppose we are concerned with freezing slush on the streets because we are the street maintenance personnel. I have been told there is already a term – chicken-head ice – which obviously refers to solid chunks of ice on the road, which as the temperature drops below freezing stick to the road in a particular way that is hazardous to driving. That kind of ice would need to be dealt with in a way that would be different from cat-head ice, or dog-head ice, or pig-head ice, or canary-head ice. A vocabulary of this type is easily visualized and standardized, and would be useful to the street cleaners, the weather news casters, and the driving public.

This same method for creating new words is easily done for other subjects and easily understood by speakers of a given language, but is not very good for translation to another language. We can create a vocabulary for any idea, and if it is done with forethought the neologisms work together to aid understanding, and we can discover new relationships and reveal them to other people.

Reveal new ideas about things by creating a coherent structured vocabulary.

 

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