Language Rules


Lex Fridman and his guests have discussed various aspects of language rules and their cultural implications across different contexts:

  1. Cultural Norms and Language: Sam Harris pointed out that individuals follow language rules and cultural norms unconsciously. Even without a formal understanding of these rules, people recognize errors when they deviate from normative use. Cultural expectations, such as how one behaves during social interactions or what foods are considered acceptable, are deeply ingrained and can differ significantly across cultures 1.

  2. Linguistic Structures: Edward Gibson explored the generalizations across human languages, especially the differences between languages that are subject-verb-object (like English) and verb-final (like Japanese). He highlighted how these structures are harmonious within a single language, impacting the use of elements like prepositions 2.

  3. Language in Poetry: Constraints in poetry also depend on the language's rules, as discussed by Edward Gibson. For instance, English poetry is influenced by its strict subject-verb-object order, while Russian poetry benefits from more flexibility due to freer word order and the use of case markers, allowing poets to play with the position of words more creatively 3.

    Cultural Norms

    Sam and Lex discuss how cultural norms and language use are not consciously represented by individuals, yet they are followed and noticed as errors when not followed. They also talk about how cultural norms can vary from country to country, and how they can be felt viscerally even if individuals are not the authors of those norms.

    Lex Fridman Podcast

    Sam Harris: Consciousness, Free Will, Psychedelics, AI, UFOs, and Meaning | Lex Fridman Podcast #185

These discussions indicate the deep impact of language rules on communication, cultural expression, and even artistic creation.