Thoughts on Language:

Limit to language also limits thought and to limit thought is to limit the possibility of alternatives. Language is the most common medium through which information is transferred. But communication can be restricted depending on what type of language is used. The use of ‘restrictive’ language such as mathematical expressions, while capable of transferring highly structured pieces of intelligence also restricts the audience to those capable of translating the expressions. Alternately, when a high variety in language is present, as in interpretive communications, e.g., art or propaganda, meaning looses the preciseness because of the use of symbols and the ‘possibilities’ of meanings. Not surprising then, terrorist groups, use art and photos to transmit ‘emotive’ messages between stations while technically advanced groups employ more complex languages that can confound simple phenomena. To contemplate the confusion that language can cause consider the following, the word Al-Qaeda literally means ‘base’, ‘home’, or ‘foundation.’ The term was originally used to signify the place from which the Taliban attacked Soviet adversaries. Though the word has become synonymous with Bin-Laden’s organization for most westerners, captured or alleged terrorists disavow allegiance to Al-Qaeda because to them, the word has no substantive meaning. This notion provides an example of a problem that develops when an intelligence agency has little or no experience with the culture or language of their indigenous contacts.

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