Language / - a 5-dimensional model applied to some basic data in linguistics
General introduction
Language as a force - The situation of speech
- Linguistic levels

An Indo-European word tree.

The world created through division of "the whole",
Division = del-ning in Swedish.
Words meaning count and tell something have the same root.
Tal = "number", = "speech" in Swedish.
In Finnish too, belonging to the Uralic language family:
lukea = count, read, say.

(Used abbreviations in this figure, see end of the file.)

1. The 5-dimensional model, presented in files about physics, is here applied to the structure of language.

2. The general hypothesis is that the same fundamental patterns that govern processes on elementary physical levels also can be expected to turn up on all superposed levels in Nature - more or less recognizable.

3. If the model in one or another form shows up to be valid on underlying levels as in the genetic code and biology, it would be natural if it also reappeared as a pattern on the superposed linguistic level. Natural both in the motor production of language and in the speech situation, which gives the semantic sense, the relation to the surroundings from which human beings are precipitations and to which they relate through language.

4. Schools among grammarians use models similar to the dimension model here, e.g. the "tree" structures of the Chomsky school for analysis similar to polarizations here, "derivations" between levels, concepts as that about a deep structure in relation to the surface level
   (The linguists' tree structures should of course be turned upside down for a more adequate tree form (!), but our bad habit in western culture to read and write downwards explains surely that this inversion has become the practice.)

5. It's proposed here that this model could make up at last one part up the basis for children's inborn ability to grasp a grammar that Noam Chomsky launched as hypothesis, underlying the different rule systems of individual languages.

Such a built-in cognitive structure in human brains should probably be a very fundamental model to allow for the thousands of variations that exist and have existed.

It seems as a reasonable hypothesis that such a built-in structure for language is a further development of the network for the olfactory sense (paragraph 3). The chemical level of smells is a system for communication in the animal kingdom, and in the nervous system of electric signals this underlying chemical level appear in all synapses.

6. There are at least three areas of language where the dimension model may be applied rather easily: the structure of humans' speech organs, the types of phonemes - and main word categories through which humans perceive themselves and the environment, categories which may be connected with main word classes or parts of sentences. Many grammatical features in different language families are also possible to analyze and interpret in terms of the dimension model.

7. About numbers, we have for instance up to 5 - 6 levels in the linguists' analyses of languages, about 5-6 types of phonemes, - with about thirty phonemes as an average value in different languages - as the sum of poles in a dimension chain, and we may count on about 5 to 4 elementary categories of words...

8. Views and applications of the model in following files may surely seem very simple - too simplified perhaps in many cases, and generalizations become of natural reasons more vague. Yet, even linguists by profession - as for instance Roman Jacobson - have made use of similar dimensional aspects in his analyses, even if it concerned a more limited area.

Language as a force:

Speech is of course a force, analogous to the forces in physics: an equivalent on this superposed level of relations between living creatures as particles.
   Physicists call the boson quanta "carriers of forces". In the same sense words or speech is just such carriers of forces between people, binding or disintegrating.
   As the nuclear force and the electromagnetic one sews up atoms and molecules, language functions as sewing between individuals.
   Two of the physical forces are called strong or weak interaction, with quanta as π-mesons (or "gluons") and neutrinos and others. Speech is interaction in the same way with quanta carrying sense and energy in the communication. (Like interchange of commodities in the economy.)

Language may also be interpreted as a further development from the chemical level with correspondences to chemical laws: with "ionizations" to morphemes, with free valences for linguistic derivations, with charges in sentences, "radical groups", attraction and repulsion etc.
   The historical development of a morpheme or word, with branching of the signification in different directions, has also similarities with the substances in glycolysis and citrate cycle for instance, where the different stages also leave the circulation to transform into other chemical molecules with other functions.

Without entering into the question how language are stored in the brain, it can be observed that the number of phonemes in basic morphemes (word stems) or syllables is circa 3-2, sometimes 4-5: the same number as number of bases in codons in the genetic code or totally (T/U-G-C-A). However, in numbers, it's the number of amino acids that resembles phonemes in the "genetic alphabet".

The probable deeper relations between the coding systems of a) the genetic code for proteins and b) language is (or would be) an interesting area of research.
    In a first view there is an obvious opposition: Language as a way from the multidimensional sense and sentences to linear (sequential) motor action - in opposition to proteins as linear, through folding becoming multidimensional. The folding of proteins, so essential for their function, and what in the code that eventually decides this folding, is still an unanswered question.

Speech as motions:

Language as motions out of the "angle rest"

Also motion as such, "dimension degree (d-degree) 0/00" in the model here, is a force in relation to other d-degrees. "Carrier" of this force are the bodies that move.

According to one hypothesis about the dimension model, the steps in a dimension chain have also the character of angle steps through 5(0) → 4 →3 →2 →1 - 0/00 (00), as e.g. halvings: 360° — 180° — 90° — 45° — 22,5° —11,25°. Five steps give the angle rest 11,25 which could be regarded as the germ for motions as such: language as a force translated to motions out of this angle rest: an opening for communication with the surroundings, the 00-pole.

Speech has two centra in human brains: Wernicke's area in the temporal lobe for interpretation, and Broca's area near primary motor centra for speech.
    They are connected as through an arch, "fascicutus arcuatus" (which could illustrate angle steps).
   Really basic morphemes seem possible to manage and understand by Wernicke's centre, real syntactic connections first in Broca's area, according to studies of brain damages (RB).

The Situation of Speech and Types of sentences

1. The speech situation makes up the starting point for a development from primary to secondary sentences and types of sentences:

The speaker c1 — addressee(s) c2 — narrating centre c3:

2. In resemblance with how the cortex of cerebrum develops and spreads out as a projection surface over older parts of the brain, the communication between individuals develops from "radial" messages between speaker and addressee to descriptions as along a circumference or coordinate axis "in straight angle" to the line between both parts (c3); it gets a character of projection. (However, also the dance of bees has the narrative function,)

3. In terms of the dimension model:
First polarization 0 <———> 00, centre — anticentre (circumference) is given in the situation for speech in the relation speaker - addressee(s). They are as centre - anticentre poles out of a 5-dimensional unit, "the whole situation". Between these poles the 4th dimension degree (d-degree) is defined, in our model proposed as Direction, corresponding to a vector field. Speaker and addressee (listener) become each other's anticentra.

4. This primary relation gives types of sentences with directions, such as exclamations, exhortations, questions, ceremonial greetings and so on, types of sentences which are valid in "I <—> You" relations. (As developments from animals' greeting, calling or warning signals.)

Drawing any border between languages of animals and humans becomes difficult to justify. "Earlier" means of articulation as dance, facial expressions, body language etc. could be regarded as built-in activities in the ballet of tongue. When language moves out to the growing cortex of cerebrum, the expressions move inwards towards the mouth.
   Homo Sapiens, with the thumb opposite to other fingers and using tools, developed "auxiliary verbs".

5. A centre displacement to c3 and a new coordinate axis implies a d-degree step 4 → 3, a development from "I→You" speech to what semantically is speech in "3rd person", "he-she-this-that" speech. It implies displacements in types of sentences to describing, narrative speech, a perpendicular relation between speaker-addressee and what is referred to. Further centre displacements may lead to e. g. subordinate clauses.

6. Displacements in types of sentences should be compared with moods as differentiations in syntax and among verbs.

7. The describing, referring sentences concerns things located as along the circumference around the speaker. "3rd person" (singular, plural) gets precipitated as through a dimensional process. And first conditions have been created for secondary directions, secondary tenses for verbs etc.
  (Are there perhaps in the prehistory of languages different word stems for speech in these two senses?)

8. The centre displacement to speech in "3rd person" implies a relation where that which is referred to in a deeper semantic sense becomes an object (an object of speech). The speaker as primary subject understood. The mentioned subject becomes as an object of lower d-degree.
   (Cf. in Swedish that the demonstrative pronoun "den" derives from an oblique case form, that is to say concerns nouns that not are subjects in the sentences, not is in the nominative.)

9. Here it's suggested to regard the first poles 0 and 00, centre - anticentre as basis for the word category of pronouns.
   Chomsky talks about "the sovereign position of the subject" in the sentence. In terms of the dimension model it would refer to the subject as the sovereign 0-pole, starting point for directions outwards.

When grammarians in a first step of their analyses describe sentences divided in subject part (NP, noun phrase) and predicate part (VP, verb phrase), the analysis is already displaced to the describing type of sentences. "The sovereign position of the subject" is perhaps foremost the necessity to mention that the speech concerns another centre than the speaker or the addressee, a consequence of the centre displacement to "3rd person" and the new coordinate axis.

(Secondarily the mentioned nouns may be replaced by "pro-nouns", referring back to the nouns. Then also 3rd person may be implicitly understood as subjects as these pronouns are absent in the Amerindian language caddo, while 1st and 2nd person in that language have to be pointed out with pronouns in the reference back from the new position.)

10. The first three steps:

      ä 3rd d-degree — descriptions as perpendicular to the speaker
   ä 4th d-degree — direction speaker <—> addressee
ä 5th d-degree — whole situation for speech.

Such a way through displaced centra corresponds to the way towards superposed levels and differentiations such as within word categories (cases, tenses etc.).

11. Psychology:
The types of sentences could be regarded in relation to the "faculty chain" in psychology (treated in a book in Swedish, "Jaget kontra Egot", The I and the Ego, by this author):

5 —— —— 4 —— —— 3 —— —— 2 —— —— 1 —— —— 0/00
  aim/direction - emotions - conceptions -    thoughts -   words/reactions

Sentences as exhortations with directions between speaker and addressee, expressions for elementary aims, "will". Exclamations as expressions for emotions in next step. Then the narrative sentences developed from the conceptions in step 3-2.

12. Cf. vowel exclamations versus consonants in d-degree steps (4)-3-2 through secondary demarcations, see files about phonemes.)


Levels in linguistic analysis

1. According to the dimension model here the sense or the Meaning with big M should be regarded as a "5-dimensional" unit, as a virtually underlying reference in the situation of speech, in the meeting between speaker and the surroundings or addressee. It could be imagined as an intersection between several virtual coordinate axes which stepwise gets translated to linear sentences.

The physical quantities in the dimension chain, with complementary b/a-poles:

2. Linguists subdivide the process in 2-3-4-5-6 levels according to different models (CEL). (Number of levels should perhaps be related to number of changeover stations in the nervous system?)

3. In this model it's assumed that each steps in a first 5-dimensional chain may develop to new (cf. fractal) dimension chains. This gives what we have called a level chain. Such a level chain in transformation of meaning to sentences is here sketched in approximate agreement with the terminology of linguists:

4. Some notes on the associations with dimension steps:
(As a level chain, a super-organization, the dimensional character becomes necessary derived in many steps and mostly faint.)

- Syntax is here suggested as from d-degree 4 (in step 4→3), a deeper level than the following ones, regarded from the whole in differentiating direction. Why, when syntax differs very much between individual languages?
   One reason to mention here is that syntax concerns the whole sentences and rules for the combinations of words. Another that syntax acts as or represent binding forces between the clause elements - as higher d-degrees in our model are defined as binding forces in relation to lower ones.
   More aspects and reflections in file about Syntax.

- Word types or "categories" (Verbs, Nouns, Adjectives...) are regarded as the level 3-2, implying a separation in units, in a figurative sense with borders (d-degree 2) between them, a classification of their main roles on an elementary level. In the model the primary poles of d-degree 3 within physics are proposed as Mass and Vacant Space and in simple geometrical terms: circular / radial.

- Morphemes, as word stems (or syllables): the boundary between word types are opened, the words "ionized", in this sense connected with Charge, proposed as of d-degree 2 in the model. Morphemes carry often an essential semantic character that can be used as parts in different word classes. Regarded in synthesizing direction they form first elementary "linear" rows of phonemes (even if sometimes only one phoneme). Hence they are here suggested as representing d-degree step 2 <—> 1.

- Phonemes as individual (although complex) quanta of motor speech derive naturally from d-degree step 1 → 0/00. (0/00 the d-degree of Motions in our model).

- And the Sense, Meaning of the sentence represents the Whole, d-degree 5.

Writing development shows the same development from ideographic writing and "words" to syllable writing to phonetic writing - a way of differentiations from "the whole".

6. About transitions between the levels:

The transitions from parts of sentences as Subjects - Predicatives - Adverbials in Syntax to Word types or " categories" as nouns - verbs - adverbs as following from the centre displacements in the speech situation:

- Parts of sentences, the clause elements, get naturally decided by the underlying level of syntax and may be assumed as the preliminary stage.
   A language as Chinese lacks classes of words in our sense. There it's possible to speak about more complex semantic concepts - of higher dimension degree - where the word order and other things decide the roles of the words.
   The existence of such languages is one argument for interpreting the different classes of words as stepwise precipitations through a development of the type of a dimension chain.

- The centre displacement to a coordinate axis perpendicular to the one between speaker and addressee, to a secondary 0-pole in the surrounding c2, gives a talked-about subject and the role of subject projected as on a surface.
   This subject demands that something or somebody is pointed out, is "located", encircled, through a name: it gets "substantivized". In this way the displacement in the situation of speech implies a displacement also from the level of syntax and clause elements to the categories of words on superposed level.
   Hence, first "in 3rd person" nouns as a class of words would be defined, first with the describing/telling type of sentences.

- In a corresponding way the verbs may be imagined as released from the role of predicates of sentences through this centre displacement and become alienated to a word class for relations between different centra on the "periphery".

- Simultaneously the complex "properties" in the sentence may be "chemically" precipitated and get the character of adverbs and adjectives, when the verbs have been abstracted from specific situations and become generalized, and that which is substantival has become designations as nouns.
   ("Twenty" words for snow becoming one word for snow plus twenty adjectives!)


In agreement with the gradients that scientists talk about in embryology but also in linguistics, two such gradients could be identified in the development of a sentence:
   - One from Meaning, the germ (as centre, the point in bottom of one gradient triangle), in direction outwards, divergent toward increasing breadth, a developed sentence, differentiated in word categories and "words",
   - The other in "lexical" direction from outside (anticentre, the 00-pole), from single phonemes and sequences of phonemes which can have represented a complex meaning, towards longer sentences where the separate words get an increasingly specialized sense.
   The Meaning, the semantic sense, forms its code through incorporation and structuring of material from the surroundings.

We have two gradients in the ear: auditory cells with nerves from the interior of the brain, and the cochlea, created from outside.


The gradient with phonemes in the centre could eventually be compared with the evolution of the blood system: from single "island" drops - to threads of these - to pipes, which then get curved through two-way directed streams to the creation of bulbs and the heart pump.


To Geometry at bottom:
Verbs - Nouns - Adjectives - Adverbs

Abbreviations for languages in first figure above:
IE = Indo-European
W.Lat. = West Latin
Old Ir. = Old Irish
Icl = Icelandic
Pr-Norse = Primitive Scandinavian
Anglo-Sax = Anglo-Saxon
Sw = Swedish




© Åsa Wohlin
Free to distribute if the source is mentioned.
Texts are mostly extractions from a booklet series, made publicly available in year 2000








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as pdf:
Part I, files 1-8
Part II, files 9-13

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