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Words for 'knowledge' #9801
11/03/00 09:21 AM
11/03/00 09:21 AM
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London, UK
shanks Offline OP
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shanks  Offline OP
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Did a quick search and don't believe this has been done before. (If I'm wrong, my apologies.)

Apparently the French have two or three different words to describe knowledge - the distinction being the way the knowledge is 'acquired' - sometimes by insight, or recognition of a principle, sometimes by rote learning, and so on.

It has always galled me that all these subtle but useful distinctions seem to be lost in English, because we have only the one word: knowledge.

Does anyone know of any words, be they ever so obscure, that convey distinctions like these in English? Or can anyone suggest what appropriate words for use might be? (If you're going to make them up, however, you will have to post on the Wordplay and Fun forum and keep linking your posts.)


Re: Words for 'knowledge' #9802
11/03/00 12:32 PM
11/03/00 12:32 PM
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Sussex, England
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FishonaBike Offline
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Hi shanks.

I think there are different words for knowledge in English, though without seeing the specific French varieties I've no idea whether these English words are of equivalent value.

For instance, isn't understanding a specific type of knowledge? Possibly understanding something is better than merely knowing it; the knowledge is deeper and more instinctive.

Another one is skill, the knowledge required to do something specific. This is usually achieved through study and practice, the born genius being a notable exception.
I suppose talent relates more to innate knowledge.

We also talk about good sense and especially common sense. That's like a general knowledge of day-to-day living. I think common sense is actually fairly uncommon, but then I would, wouldn't I?

Maybe you could give us a couple of specific examples of where the English language falls short, and then the Smiths can set to work on those.

Fisk


Re: Words for 'knowledge' #9803
11/03/00 12:57 PM
11/03/00 12:57 PM
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Louisville, Kentucky
Jackie Offline
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shona,

I'm impressed. I can only think of 'comprehension'.

I noticed very few posts of yours today, which I gather is
a sign of effort on your part. Acknowledged, and merci.


Re: Words for 'knowledge' #9804
11/03/00 01:01 PM
11/03/00 01:01 PM
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RhubarbCommando Offline
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And in addition to shona's suggestions of "propoer" words, we use a variety of slang to plug the gap.
gen is information about a psecific (I mean specific, but that looks too good to erase!) area of activity as is info.
THE knowledge is the detailed topographical knowledge of the taxi driver
wrinkle is knowledge that has been acquired by experience of a quicker/easier way of doing something.

I am sure there are others.


Re: Words for 'knowledge' #9805
11/03/00 02:27 PM
11/03/00 02:27 PM
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maverick Offline
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Possibly understanding something is better than merely knowing it

That's interesting, shona - think I might have placed those the other way around. I might understand French moderately well, but I would hesitate to claim knowledge of French, unless it was suitably qualified by limited ! I guess this a symptom of reading knowledge as a definitive statement unless hedged, whereas the full flavour of (true) understanding has been debased in modern currency to a more temporising quality -
"I understand what you're getting at..." (meaning actually 'I have processed the sounds issuing from your lips') "but I can't fully agree with that position" (meaning actually 'but I have not deviated from my preconceptions one iota!') I think this also underscores a difference between 'knowing', and 'knowing of', something.

How about to 'be informed' about something?


Understanding v Knowledge #9806
11/03/00 02:50 PM
11/03/00 02:50 PM
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Sussex, England
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FishonaBike Offline
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I might understand French moderately well, but I would hesitate to claim knowledge of French

I understand what you're getting at, mav...

But I don't think you'd claim "knowledge" of French. You may claim knowledge of the French language, but even then, that wouldn't necessarily mean you understood French - it may just mean you've read lots of books on French grammar.

It seems to me there's something more dry about knowledge when set next to understanding. And language is more of an ocean than a desert, as I'm sure you'd agree.

However, I agree with you on the debasement of the word 'understand'. Not that that's the only word to have been thoroughly debased in the wonderful world of business!



Re: Words for 'knowledge' #9807
11/03/00 03:17 PM
11/03/00 03:17 PM
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rego park
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rego park
In an other thread, tsuwm suggest GROK, as a favorite new word. The word is not well established world wide, but it does represent the comprehension of a principle, the cartoon lightbulb going on. Betty Friedan called it "the Click" when you suddenly realize something in full. Epiphany an other is an way this is expressed, and Eureka!--but I guess these express enlightenment- and while that is a kind of knowledge..

there is also street smarts, or being a graduate of the school of hard knocks, and while they are not single words, they do express "hard won knowledge"



Re: Understanding v Knowledge #9808
11/03/00 03:50 PM
11/03/00 03:50 PM
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maverick Offline
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something more dry about knowledge when set next to understanding

Yes, I know what you mean

But I wonder if that is an overlay of meaning you are applying because that fits your sympathy and general outlook? How about an alternative view that goes: understanding = theoretically based computation;
knowledge = digested and applied wisdom.
But let's test this out, 'cause I'm just thinking aloud (or should that be aboard).

I agree that I would'nt claim knowledge of French. But I might say "I know French". That seeems to me a very definitive statement, compared to "I understand French". In the latter, I can probably answer the phone and have a business conversation - in the former, I am halfway thro' La Rechereche de Temps Perdu (if I had the time )

What happens if we try substituting other words?

I know London = I am extremely familiar with the English capital's geography, where to go to eat, the tube system, etc...
I understand London = I know what sustains the economy of the capital, know what many Londoners feel about fox-hunting, the price of beer, and the Queen Mother, etc...

I know the depths of despair = I am trapped in an office almost anywhere in the world
I understand despair = I sell counseling services

I know penguins = I have had an embarassing experience being arrested at London Zoo...
I understand Penguins = I know how interested they are in eating fish

So I reckon maybe your colouring of the word is partly dictated by what a warm and cuddly human bean you are, and the importance you attach in life to really understanding people. What do you think - have I misunderstood you?


PS GROK
The West Country dialect of England (of which Cornwall is the most distinctive, with it's own language) has grockle as a disparaging term for tourist or holiday-maker (now that itself is a weird phrase, when you stop yto think about it!).

Re: Words for 'knowledge' #9809
11/03/00 10:26 PM
11/03/00 10:26 PM
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jmh Offline
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>I understand what you're getting at..." (meaning actually 'I have processed the sounds issuing from your lips') "but I can't fully agree with that position" (meaning actually 'but I have not deviated from my preconceptions one iota!')

The other popular and meaningless term for the same concept is "I hear what you say"


Re: Words for 'knowledge' #9810
11/03/00 10:33 PM
11/03/00 10:33 PM
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jmh Offline
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In recruitment personal attributes are sometimes divided up under "Skills", "Knowledge", "Experience" and "Attitudes".
Knowledge is broader and more education related than skills or experience which tend to be quite specific. I think that understanding is possibly deeper than having knowledge of a subject area.


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