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    Dr. Alaric Naudé
    Professor of Linguistics
    Department of Nursing
    Suwon Science College

    Newton’s Third law is summarised in the following statement by Newton himself; Actioni contrariam semper et æqualem esse reactionem: sive corporum duorum actiones in se mutuo semper esse æquales et in partes contrarias dirigi. Which is to say; To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction: or the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts.

    The theory is defined by FA = −FB namely that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The FA = −FB formula will be applied in then be applied to the relation of society to language.

    Newton’s Third Law has never been invoked in a Linguistic setting. The author however feels that while intended for the field of physics, the structure of the Third Law provides a theoretical basis for Socio­linguistic interactions.

    Society influences language and language is in turn an influence on society and this can be measured,

    However, this definition albeit pertinent can be problematic when used in a wider sense in that is equates for only two reactionary bodies. In a humanistic sense there are likely to be both supporting and resisting factions or ideals.

    In a linguistic sense then actions or even perceived actions can have both a positive or negative influence thereby creating both positive and negative reactions simultaneously.

    A different formula based on the Third Law is then proposed in cases that involve situations of comparative support or opposition.

    The correct formula in a linguistic sense would then be FA = (+FB) + (­-FB).

    The first action or series of actions symbolized by FA will produce complementary actions of similar intensity (+FB) it will concurrently produce a resisting action (-­FB). This formula is purely experimental and needs to be tested.

    To illustrate, in a hypothetical situation an institution may choose to change wording within their school motto in order to “modernize” it, this idea may have support due to the progressive nature of individuals and their concepts, yet there may be a resistant force in a more conservative group who object to the change in language for a variety of reasons based on preformed values. In such cases the success of the action is not necessarily bound to a purely democratic process but may be heavily directed by individuals, culture, institutional policies and numerous other factors. The relative outcome be it predominantly (+FB) or ( ­-FB) will then be based on the combination of various factors not any singular factor.

    The dominating set of factors be they (+FB) or ( ­FB) will then set the direction for that society on a various linguistic and social issues.

    The hypothetical formula will then follow a set of perceivable course.

    If FA =­ FB then by implication FA = (+FB) + ( ­-FB). Further if one side becomes dominant whether (+FB) or (­-FB), the dominant side becomes an influencing factor on the original FA

    In a cycle the FA will either Galvanise or Undermine the dominant form or group.

    To clarify in the form of formula, if FA = −FB then in like manner, FA =(+FB) + ( ­−FB). The dominant section will then change the path of the formula. If FA = (+FB) becomes dominant then FA = (+FB) in like manner will be (+FB) =FA.
    If FA = (­FB)then in like manner equates to (­FB) =FA.

    This hypothetical formula will be used to test the relationship between catalyst and language, language and catalyst. It will also be used to compare and collate collected data.

    If society influences language, then language in turn influences society.

    If a policy is implemented toward language it will be both supported and opposed with the stronger area gaining dominance. Support or

    Opposition will then will be an influencing factor on language policies either to uphold or degrade the systems under which they hold sway.

    In a linguistic sense these “diagnostic artifacts” are references to, and/or literature that displays examples of linguistic shifts, not only in grammar forms used but also in the nature and tone of rhetoric during reforms or social changes or even preceding these so as to gauge the social, political, religious and educational spheres that gave rise to the current system.

    These “diagnostic artifacts” will be analyzed using a comparative framework in which their correlation or lack thereof will the ascertained through the contrast with relative modern or current patterns or linguistic forms.

    Examples of this may include the following (this list is by no means exhaustive);

    Frequency of words or idioms

    ● Deliberate changes to previous forms of wording

    ● Prohibitions on certain words, expressions or language forms.

    ● The institution of a “singular” or “authorized” ideas or concepts which are de rigueur and impose conformity.

    ● Ways in which the superiority of the current idea system is expounded.

    ● The degree or force with which language forms are imposed (i.e. the censorship of free speech, prohibition of women to use certain linguistic forms, prohibition of certain groups to point out inconsistencies etc…)

    The second area is that of data collection in connection with native speakers and/or experts in the field.

    The feelings of native speakers in relation to the “opposing” form of their language can give grounds as to what the proliferated views or institutionalized propaganda that affect the way a particular group or language is perceived really are.

    To illustrate, an Institute may say “We have no aversion to dialect B, all dialects are equally acceptable.” However, are the views of the members of the given institute in harmony with this principle? Do students through the collected responses show an unbalanced lean toward not using dialect B due to social stigma or the possibility that teachers show favoritism to users of dialect A? Surveyed responses will then give insight not only into “official stances” of institutes or educational systems but rather to the actual situation. This survey will use neutral language to avoid leading to a certain response, it will further choose wording that is culturally sensitive so as to ensure accuracy. Clear identification of any trend or movement toward linguistic discrimination must treated seriously during the stage of data analysis and where this trend originates from, this is because linguistic discrimination is an abuse of human rights.

    Data will be interpreted using the traditional forms of data visualization such as graphs depicting the frequencies of results and their interrelated trends. These results will be further used to hypothesize future leaning or directions of societies based on their current linguistic product.

    The validity of FA = (+FB) + ( ­FB) which will henceforth be referred to for the ease of reading and writing as the Naudé Hypothesis.

    The test for the Naudé Hypothesis will include the evaluation of the hypothesis through the stability of the results which it produces, or whether the hypothesis produces results that can be measured in any consistent way.

    In its construct the hypothesis will seek to identify and categorize the mutational catalysts responsible for the diversity in dialects and for the partiality given to certain dialects within a society.

    The danger in this form of hypothetical testing is that of the caveman effect, which leads to an unsatisfactory and inaccurate interpretation of the data in question.

    Further , due to the complex nature of linguistic influences this formula best serves to explore the relation between two social factors at a time. The formula may be altered to include more fields based on the manner in which the given data is analysed.

    Hence, FA = (+FB) + ( -­FB) .

    If ∴ FA = +FB

    then it is logical that

    ∴ FA ≠-­FB

    +FB and ­-FB receive a respective numerical value based on the degree of social dominance they display within the society under observation with a root metric factor of ten being the unit of measurement. The value itself may include decimals although the total value of +10 to ­10 may not be exceeded. Exceeding the unitary value of +10 to ­10 will indicate an error in the equation sequence.

    Consider the following hypothetical sequence for comparing Religion designated as (+FB)and Politics designated as (­-FB). The value of “B”will represent the given factors social influence.

    Consider the following formula based on the hypothetical values for a Progressive Modern Country.

    FA = (+F4 ) + ( ­-F7)

    ∴FA =­-F3

    As can be noted the hypothetical society has a stronger linguistic leaning toward Politics than to Religion. In a society of this nature, socio-­dialects can be expected to arise through terminology used by marginalised social groups.

    Next consider a hypothetical society in which older traditions and beliefs hold sway.

    FA = (+F9 ) + ( -­F4)

    ∴FA =+F5

    In this hypothetical country a local religion or system of beliefs holds power and much of the linguistic influence comes through this vector.

    Dialects are likely to arise from groups where the common or state religion is not their medium of worship and may be directly influenced by the liturgy and terminology of their minority religion.

    The greater the final number, the greater the influence of that factor will be, in turn, the level of freedom in association to opposing ideas will decrease. A value of ten would be either a blatant authoritarian state, dictatorship or an error in analysis.

    In the rare case that no given or compared factors produce dominance in any area ( this is nigh on impossible and such a result would likely indicate either an error in the data collection or incomplete data) the formula will be expressed as ∴FA =Fø where Ø is the standard linguistic notation for zero.

    FA =Fø would therefore represent a country in perfect social balance in regard to the compared factors.

    FA = (+FB) + ( ­-FB) serves to give an approximate trend per social factors and while not being infallible provides insight into potential problematic factors within a society.

    It differs from Newton’s Third Law in that one sector produces dominance even while resistance is present. The “mass” to use physics terminology, will then be the sector having the largest numerical representation via the equation.

    The primary aim of this equation then is to understand the semantic element within any given piece of writing, however within the context of the language and should be contrasted only with another form of the same language or find the trend within a single piece of literature of speech.

    There is however the possibility that the semantic encoding within a piece of literature/speech can be misinterpreted by the second party that is to say the listener. Poor choice of semantics in association with the syntactical delivery is therefore a powerfully detrimental force when communicating between two parties. There are underlying factors that could be the cause:

    A semantic shift in the localised use of a word, phrase or structure.

    A propagandist ulterior motive as in ‘Strategic Semantics’.

    There are five essential features in play during any communicative situation (Jakobson);


    Of these, the expressive, directive and phatic functions greatly influence the social roles of language and its interpretation. A writer or speaker or yet anyone else who when expressing feelings or perceived rather than actual facts affects the emotional response of the listeners either positively or negatively.

    As Leech points out on pp. 50;

    “Whenever language is loaded toward or against a given set of attitudes, there is a danger of confusion, unless the addressee is able to distinguish between the conceptual and affective content of the message.”

    Indeed, if the speaker himself/herself is not able to distinguish the reality of a matter the listeners can not be expected to understand either. In this case, the listeners will hypothetically take two possible courses of interpretation;

    The message communicated is unclear and appears to be without basis or is irrelevant to me as an individual. I am unable to take in all the facts but feel I understand the main gist of the message which is important.
    The second line of reasoning can be of serious social detriment when the interpretation is rendered to encourage ideas or actions that are of an anti­social nature. “What the speaker said” can therefore become grounds for the extremist or anti­-social activities that follow and will be seen by those who interpret it as such, as a form of justification of the given action.

    A worse situation is where the speaker purposely and clearly encodes socially degraded semantics ie. ‘violence is necessary, no mercy for the enemy’ type reasonings. This is ultimately solely designed to elevate the speaker, his cause or another social factor above all else, a proverbial ‘rallying of the troops’.

    There is a strong danger that the actual semantics of a word will be ignored in favour of the associative meaning or its affective connotation. This is spectacularly the case in words dealing with social groupings, especially words relating to nationalism, politics or religion.

    The Naudé Hypothesis can therefore be used as a tool for predicting future trends nationally or globally based on printed or spoken material and can determine to what degree these are pure propaganda.


    Newton, Isaac (1729 Edition); “Principia” p20 Volume 1,

    Leech Geoffrey (1974) , SEMANTICS , Harmondsworth: Penguin Books,

    Jakobson, R. (1960) ‘Linguistics and Poetics’. In Seboek, T.A(ed), Style in Language, Cambridge, Mass, MIT Press

    Hayakama ,S.I. (1964), Language in Thought and Action, 2nd Edition, New York; Harcourt, Brace

    Yoel Nitzarim

    Presently, I am living in a society in Israel which is surrounded by the language of hate and autocratic authorities as one influence upon its citizenry and at the same time is divided by the language of understanding, respect, decorum, tradition, and democratic authorities in its own sphere of influence. The situation for an outsider like myself is extremely complex to perceive and virtually impossible for outsiders from other countries, such as the European Union to fathom under any or all circumstances. To simplify the relationships between internal messages between Israelis; internal messages between Israelis and their enemies, e.g., Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and potentially Turkey; and external messages between any of the aforementioned messages and external sources, e.g., the EU, Russia, China, the US, Canada, Latin America, Australia, and Africa seems to me superfluous activity and most probably cognitive dissonance in substance. Generalizing about the role of language in such a volatile area as the Middle East where sects, religious enclaves, the Qu’ran, the Hadith, and, especially clans play a vital role in understanding the Arab mentality and democratic principles, the Torah and the Talmud affect the internal and external policies of the Israeli people seems an exercise in futility: hence the reason why peace is so difficult to achieve.

    Alaric Naudé

    Thank you for the input and taking the time to reply. I must point out the very aim is simplification. A complex machine such as a printer or a car is comprised of multiple parts. A good mechanic understands the function of each part and therefore understands how the machine reacts when there is a problem. Merely knowing a overall idea of what a car is would be insufficient. The very idea is to carve away at a problem piece by piece to understand its source(s). It is a tool, a means to an end, not the entire tool box. Also, this tool is generally designed to be used by individuals who understand the subject that they are using it to analyse.  Therefore I believe the tool to be accurate when comparing two ideas, sentiments or leanings side by side. Understanding, even in part can assist in listening, listening in turn to deeper understanding, which may (or may not) lead to problem solutions. Thank you again!


    I want to thank Yoel and particularly Alaric for their participation here. Yoel’s comment reminded me of what I have observed for a long time about racial relations in the U.S. and something I commented about elsewhere, so it’s fresh in my mind: A principal reason for the schism is that the very concept of racism is defined differently by white folks and black folks–but both views end up in excluding themselves from the possibility of being racist. As long as their conceptualizations help them avoid self-recognition of racism, there hardly will ever be a true meeting of minds.


    Alaric, we appreciate your sharing your original article here at the Forum. I was wondering too if, Alaric, you had considered starting the article with an abstract. Also I wanted to ask about your statement: “Newton’s Third Law has never been invoked in a Linguistic setting.” Do you mean linguistic as language use, i.e., communication or the academic field of linguistics?


    If the latter, then I am not surprised because the linguist’s data is typically self-constructed and structural, thus function (purpose of language) is hardly considered. I am having a hard time conceptualizing how the Third Law would apply in syntactic studies for example. Syntactic/grammatical structures are inert–it is the linguist’s imagination that gives them life. On the other hand, which may explain the birth of sociolinguistics, language use is at once born of purpose (often social), implying oppositions (coming from choices of language use) and thus inviting application of Newton’s law.


    But does it have to be in the name of Newton to apply/consider/use the law?  In counseling psychology it is well used without any mention of Newton’s name. Counselors operate on the principle that a change in behavior/perception/habit necessarily requires an equally opposite force in the client’s life. In search of a such an opposing force, they might invent one for the client, suggesting to them to do the opposite (of the target behavior). In national politics I came across the same principle applied toward effecting change. Sociolinguistically, I can see this happening as with the Great Vowel Shift in American English, whereby speakers of dialects have been adjusting their vowels to maintain distinctiveness in face of standardizing or globalizing influences from outside forces (my own interpretation).

    Alaric Naudé


    Dear Ray

    Firstly thank you for your detailed input and observations. I actually thought that I had included a abstract but for some reason it may not have been posted.The Third Law to date has not been incorporated into any known linguistic approach and therefore the statement. In common terms linguistic data may appear to be self-constructed, and indeed this is the case for most fields of linguistics, however the concepts of sociolinguistics dictate understanding the way languages and/or language users interac.


    Inert is not the best term to use as syntax is highly variable depending on language and even dialect. English for example displays a highly fluid syntax structure between dialects and this is likely a contributing factor toward the sheer scale of variability in English dialects.


    So why Newton? A fair question. He is the origin of my inspiration and I have used this Hypothesis to write my doctoral thesis, the expression is merely honorary.

    I was able to find the relationships between the way language is used by individuals or social groups and find trends in linguistic prejudice.


    You mentioned the American vowel shift, that highlights what I am expressing, a resistance to change leads to more pride in a certain regional dialect but may also lead to prejudice and viewing other dialects as inferior. This may also develop to the point where it starts to erupt as hate speech, or other actions which further social unrest and fracture society.


    Once again the hypothesis is designed as a tool for understanding patterns within the field of sociolinguistics and not an end all. It also enables one to pinpoint areas in which language is being specifically manipulated to elicit either a negative or positive response. This is the case with propaganda of varying types.


    I do hope this helps to explain the context of the Hypothesis usage. I actually have a presentation at the Kotesol International Conference tomorrow. I will introduce the Global Listening Centre there too. I believe professors from your university will be attending. Have a lovely evening.



    Dear Alaric,

    Thank you for the reply. Apparently this website never notified me as it should. I happen to teach sociolinguistics (SL) and am quite interested in its historical founding. Of course, if general or theoretical linguistics had had enough focus on function and as well used actual language data, there might never have been need for a new separate field. At the same time I recognize the enormous contributions linguistics has made and continues to make. I am simply fascinated with the evolution of SL and always have enjoyed analysis of actual language use.

    I was quite taken with the thrust of your hypothesis with the power of oppositional forces. It struck a chord in me and pleased me about its linguistic basis. I am sorry if your submission was not presented here in its original form. Something must have happened somehow in the inner channels of GLC  :D.  I hope GLC will rectify such in the future. Your attention to sociolinguistic aspects of language and application to listening interests me. I noted your concern with hate speech and share your concern. I wonder though if you might reconsider your comment on dialects, as I agree that an in-group attitude can lead to a feeling of superiority over other groups, but would see dialects more positively. It would be interesting to know about a causal relation between dialectal use and social prejudice. If you can refer me to any studies on it, I would appreciate it.

    Again I regret that I just became aware of your latest post, for which I hope the Webmaster notices, and that this and the mishandling of your original submission gets corrected. Best wishes, Alaric, to your continued success and I hope I will have the pleasure of meeting you at the next GLC conference if not before.






    Alaric Naudé

    Dear Ray

    Thank you for the reply, it is much appreciated. No matter I will write to them to see if it cannot be rectified. You comment is noteworthy regarding linguistics, yet such is the nature of the beast, once a field of study expands in depth, it becomes a so-called hydra of extensions (in many instances anyway).

    Now, regarding dialects, the scope is slightly negative as you have pointed out, yet this seems to be a trend, as globalization forces more languages and dialects into extinction. I have noted negative feeling between dialect users in Korea, China and other Asian countries and a degree of dialectal profiling by certain people. In all honesty however there is also the factor that negative information has the tendency to spread faster than positive information.

    There are a few interesting sources of information below:

    Linguistic Profiling

    Categorization of Accents by British children

    Role of Intonantion

    Regional Dialect Discrimination

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