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The extensional orientation, hegemony, and general semantics.


In Genesis (6:15), God instructed Noah to build the ark. Jehovah specified these dimensions to Noah: "The length of the ark shall he three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits." Yahweh did not merely tell Noah to make a great ship or a big boat; rather the God of Genesis, YHWH, provided a known set of measures to Noah to remove judgmental biases. Since a cubit is an ancient measure that amounts to about 18 inches or 45 centimeters, God told Noah to construct an ark that was 450 feet (or 135 meters) long, 75 feet (or 22.5 meters) wide, and 45 feet (or 13.5 meters) high.

Without the measures God prescribed, Noah would have had no clear idea of the vessel's dimensions. Being all-knowing, YHWH, the God of Genesis, specified the measurements. Having an extensional orientation on this momentous occasion, God grounded in cubits, the measure of the day, the size of the ark needed to save humanity from the flood. Genesis (7:11) continues with an extensional orientation by informing us that when the flood came, it was in the "six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month." Genesis does not merely say relatively and subjectively that Noah was old; instead, Genesis reports that at the time of the flood, Noah was 600 years, 2 months, and 17 days old. In this context, it might be asserted without too much opposition that extensionality was significant to Yahweh and the author of Genesis. The ordered measurements of the ark benefited the 600-year-old Noah and those of us who have read his story.

What is of importance in this paper is the relative value within general semantics of the extensional orientation. There will be no effort here to rank order its overall value. All that will be attempted here is to underscore its significance and hegemony among the many valuable concepts and principles general semantics has developed. The need to expand on Korzybski's notion of the extensional orientation as well as other notion's he proposed through his general semantics would be consistent with Korzybski as the theorist who promoted the theme that the ways of science are the ways of sanity. While other general semantics concepts, such as time-binding and non-Aristotelian system, are valuable and important, they will not constitute the focus of this research.

In this paper, there is an attempt to grow as organically and ecologically as possible the concept of the extensional orientation that was begun with Korzybski and developed through the Korzybskian thought of Hayakawa, Rapoport, and others. One goal is to grow the extensional orientation into an extensional discipline or orientation discipline. What must be stressed is that using close observation of any territory, especially the spellbinding panoramas of nature, in which one is located remains fundamental to health, survival, welfare, and success. In growing the extensional orientation, people can discipline themselves to pay close attention to details and generalize their tendency toward detailing a field of observation in particular to fields of observation in general. The extensional orientation of general semantics is thus a discipline that crosses disciplines through language that affects this end.

If, for example, artists pay close attention to the saguaro cactus they are painting in the Arizona, this habit should be generalized, upon need and demand, to paying close attention to any environment in which the artists find themselves. If physicians pay close attention to a patient's rash, they may measure the extent of the rash on the day of the first examination and measure the extent of the rash on the second visit 3 days later after medicating the patient. If the patient's rash has decreased by 70% on the second examination, the physicians may decide to continue the treatment or modify it until the rash is gone. Again, this physician's habit of attending to details on behalf of a patient should be generalized. Perhaps, the primary and fundamental interest in this paper is to encourage people to discipline themselves to look, hear, smell, touch, and taste to stay grounded in experience--that is, to generalize the extensional orientation as much as practical conditions allow.

Reputedly, some meditation masters focus on the world around them. Their meditation is in a sense an extensional orientation. They constantly perceive details in the constantly changing world around them (Naranjo & Ornstein, 1973). Their reputation for developing this ability and discipline supports the direction endorsed in this paper. Having no relation to one another, two different people, a Native American hunting guide and "sacred specialist" (i.e., "medicine man") and a Viet Nam veteran who was a "special op," told this researcher how they proceeded through risky physical territory and survived to tell others. Every sense was awake and sharp. Attention was directed within as well. They would notice what was going on all around them and what was happening inside their bodies. For example, at any given time, they might be aware that the terrain on which they are walking is rocky and uphill, the weather is dry and hot, and their water loss from moving rapidly is causing extreme thirst and subsequent distraction. Each noted being constantly aware and watchful of what they might be overlooking since what they might be overlooking could result in suffering or death. Both acted on their environment with attention to as many factors germane to survival and achieving objectives as their watchful discipline permitted. Both described a highly extensional orientation toward their environment and themselves.

Morris (1927) entitled this, metaphorically speaking, all-seeing eye of perception the "total self-inclusive point of view" (pp. 255 ampersand 257). Not only do people observe the immediately changing environment in which they move, but they also note through proprioception what their bodies experience moment by moment in their changing environment. While the process of abstraction still prevails and all will not be experienced, increased observations of relevant dynamics in the situation allow the extensional orientation to function pragmatically and sanely.

As a result of the descriptions of the sacred specialist and the special op, it might behoove general semantics literarily to name their way of proceeding in a multisensory, empirical, and scientific manner "Holmes Awareness" in honor of the renowned fictional detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Or, the special, all-seeing eye, awareness the discipline of general semantics generates might simply be called "General Semantics Awareness." Holmes (or General Semantics) Awareness entails Morris' total self-inclusive point of view and can be symbolized by the characteristic magnifying glass of Sherlock Holmes. The magnifying glass becomes a symbol of the metaphorical all-seeing and all-perceiving eye like that found at the top of the incomplete pyramid on a US dollar bill. Doyle portrayed Sherlock Holmes as a sensing, perceiving, observing supra-man. His senses and perceptions and observational powers were acute and sharpened by his intellectual acumen. He knew what to look for and where to look for it. He could find that which was invisible to other mortals.

Holmes maintained continuous, if not constant, awareness of, metaphorically, the forest, the trees, and himself and others. His powers of observation were Herculean. He had the capability of being spherically aware of what was in front of him, behind him, to the left of him, to the right of him, above him, and below him. Holmes could note rapidly changing conditions that were harmful to harmless as he searched, explored, and investigated his case. He remained centered and aware at high levels. The magnifying glass can symbolize a human being proceeding with perception extending and looking inward and outward in the multiple directions around the investigating person, above and below, and the centering or balancing within. Extensional awareness can be practiced and enhanced through this simple image. Whether walking along an Amazonian trail or around Times Square, Holmes Perception can serve to heighten extensional awareness of the horizontal, the vertical, and everything else that is noticeable within one's sphere of experience.

With respect to general semantics and the extensional orientation, the good runs the risk of becoming the enemy of the better (Morris, 1970). Korzybski and the Korzybskians would appreciate integrating advancements in the quantification, computerization, and technology pertaining to the sciences and social sciences as well as the all-seeing eye symbolism of the Holmes magnifying glass. The call for updating the extensional orientation, engineering its evolution, and instigating a quantum leap in its development is being responded to in this paper. Techniques for accessing, directly or indirectly, the extensional world have blossomed over the last three decades, but it seems that there has been no corralling of these improvements through the brand of extensional orientation. This paper takes a small step in the direction of a establishing in human affairs, general semantics, and communication the possibility of an extensional orientation hegemony. Minimally, with contextual needs for verification motivating the hegemony of its spotlight role, the extensional orientation will be elevated to the role of foremost among equals in the general semantic pantheon of values.

In fact, just as Korzybski (2000) propounded the value of his non-Aristotelian system that was also non-Euclidian and non-Newtonian because the time was "ripe" (p. 91) in 1933, it might be beneficial in 2010 to debate whether Korzybski's general semantics is ready to advance to a non-Korzybskian system. General semantics, as the title for a study or discipline, might be reconsidered. Kodish and Kodish (2001) mention that Korzybski had a general theory of evaluation in mind. Ellis (2007) emphasizes the value of general semantics for psychotherapy and embedded many of its principles in his rational-emotive therapy. In a conversation with Richard Dettering of San Francisco State College (personal communication, February 10, 1969), he remarked that Korzybskian philosophy, psychotherapy, or mental hygiene might be suitable titles. It may be that Korzybskian semantics constitutes an intellectual and scientific version for mentally normal--at worst, unsane--human populations of the hygienic ends, perspective, and methods of zen and awareness (Bois, 1966; Fiordo, 1990, 2010; Naranjo & Ornstein, 1973). Of course, there is always the entitlement of human engineering, Korzybski's original name for his system later called general semantics (Bois, 1966).

In the sciences, social sciences, and communication fields, many texts on research methods have surfaced over the past 20 years (Babbie, 1997; Keyton, 2001; Mertens, 2009; Rubin, Rubin, & Piele, 2000; Wimmer & Dominick, 2003). Although general semantics may seldom be mentioned in contemporary texts on communication and related subjects as a source material, many of the empirically and scientifically related concepts from general semantics can be found in quantitative and qualitative methods texts (Keyton, 2001; Stoecker, 2005; Wimmer & Dominick, 2003), in argumentation texts (Fiordo, 2011; Inch, Warnick, & Endres, 2006; Makau & Marty, 2001; Matlon, 1988; Mayberry, 2002), and in communication texts in general (DeVito, 2009, 2011; Wood, 2003). Many contributions to an extensional orientation have emerged and older concepts have been refined. One goal here is to elaborate some of these contributions.

It might be productive to transform an extensional "orientation" into an extensional "discipline," for to orient oneself to the extensional world constitutes a discipline with rigor and regimen. Although the traditional phrase of extensional orientation will be used in this paper, the phrase extensional discipline should be linked to it, that is, extensional orientation discipline. The word discipline suggests praxis or a practice informed by theory; it also suggests learning and purposefulness. Reading about it in articles like the current one might contribute to the routine of an extensional orientation. Since human beings move about in a material world, to withdraw into their maps of the world while ignoring the territories on which they walk can lead to problems and even death. To remove attention from the road on which a cyclist is bicycling for even ten seconds can cause the cyclist to crash into a tree and be injured or killed. Attention to the territory is critical and so is an extensional orientation discipline. People can have extensional orientations but discipline themselves regularly or irregularly to practice it; they can also extend their extensional orientation by studying theories, methods, and techniques for implementing it. As a counterpoint to a heavily biased intensional orientation and as an antidote to a weightily inclined intensional orientation, the extensional orientation discipline may reasonably and pragmatically come to the rescue.

While some readers may not agree with the effort in this paper to extend, ground, contextualize, and grant hegemony to the extensional orientation, the effort will be done as honorably as can be managed. The attempt is to begin construction here on the expansion of the current two-lane extensional orientation highway with no passing lanes and no shoulders in either direction to an extensional orientation superhighway of four-lanes divided with a safety median and robust shoulder in both directions. Others are invited to improve upon this construction that should be perpetually in progress to adjust to the world and advancements in knowledge.

There will be no attempt to be definitive in the development of the concept of the extensional orientation; for to the extent that science will advance, so will the extensional orientation. The philosophical premises will be left to epistemologists in the field of general semantics and related disciplines, such as semiotics and rhetoric, to challenge or fortify. The goal here is to explain and promote more ways to reduce unsanity and increase sanity in the daily use of language and symbols through the extensional orientation. Subsequently, this research endeavor will aspire to be pragmatic and eclectic. Although the findings and ideas generated aim to improve the communication lives of all people, the author's concern lies especially with those in public communication, professional, and scholarly roles.

Research Question and Response

To be clear, the research question posed is How can the general semantics notion of an extensional orientation be developed further? To answer this question, a number of topics will be covered. The topics include the following: (1) discriminating between problematic and unproblematic extensional contexts; (2) past accounts of the extensional world and orientation; (3) contextualizing the problematic in the extensional orientation; (4) extensional orientation through grounding; (5) skewness on an exten-sional-intensional orientation interaction continuum; (6) alternatives to and refinements of reports, inferences, and judgments; (7) established and proposed extensional orientation devices; (8) experiencing the world as clearly as humanly and individually as possible; and (9) illustrations that demonstrate the challenging of hegemony and resolving of conflicts exten-sionally. In general, this paper is dedicated to the continued growth of general semantics as an open system.

Problematic and Unproblematic Extensional Contexts

A pragmatic approach is taken here as regards problematic and unproblematic extensional contexts. The intention here is to suggest conceptual means for pragmatically converting extensionally problematic contexts into unproblematic ones. Not every context for interpersonal or intrapersonal communication requires special uses of extensionality. In any context, an extensional orientation is required to maintain a norm of verification, sensibility, and sanity. Any human context may give rise to an extensionally problematic condition. When such a condition emerges, the need for extensional clarification may be required to convert a problematic condition into an unproblematic one. A sign-using or communicational situation that is extensionally problematic is one that needs clarification through special extensional procedures and devices. A situation that is extensionally unproblematic is one that does not call for clarification through special extensional procedures and devices (Morris, 1964).

In other words, problems arise in particular situations. With understanding and action impeded, the problem has to be resolved. Every problematic situation has features that are unproblematic. In all inquiry to resolve a problem, the problematic is surrounded by the unproblematic. The unproblematic is usually the norm in which a problem surfaces and is treated. For example, a scientist who identifies a problem area does not question all commonly accepted 'truths' in a field at once. A methodologist who identifies a problem does not question all commonly accepted methods in a field at once. And, an auditor who identifies a problem does not question all commonly accepted values in a field at once (Fiordo, 1977). In terms of the extensional orientation, the person with this orientation seeks constantly to uncover situations in need of extensional perspicuity. Pragmatically, when situations are not confounded by a lack of extensional clarity, no special attempts need to be made to be overly extensional. When situations need extensional disambiguation, extensional steps should be taken to elucidate the referents in the world of percepts and experience.

Accounts of the Extensional World and Orientation

A review of accounts of the extensional world and orientation is in order. Although an exhaustive list of definitions or explanations will not be attempted, several key general semantics writers who discuss the extensional orientation will be covered. Those with sizable impact over time will be used for explanations or definitions of the term.

Due to his seminal thinking on this matter. Korzybski's (2000) notion of extensionality, the extensional world, and the extensional orientation discipline will be examined in some depth. Kozybski bases his non-Aristotelian system on "extensional methods, which necessitates the introduction of a new punctuation indicating the 'etc' in a great many statements." As for science, for the most part, it is developing in the non-Aristotelian direction. The more science "succeeds in overcoming the old structural implications of speech, and the more successful it is in building new vocabularies, the further and more rapidly it will progress" (p. 94). Putting Aristotle in the role of extrovert and Plato in the role of introvert, Korzybski admonishes that in "science, the extreme extroverts have introduced what might be called gross empiricism," which is a fiction and "practically a delusion," for factual statements are never free from doctrines. The extreme introvert originated "what might be called the "idealistic philosophies,'" which become delusions. Since "what is going on outside of our skins is certainly not words," words suitable to represent the world outside of humanity's inherited, ancient, and elemental language "should at least have the structure of this world" (pp. 87-88).

Noteworthy is Korzybski's psychotherapeutic perspective that both extremes can be found in asylums: "The extreme extrovert is found mostly among the paranoiacs; the extreme introvert among schizophrenia (dementia praecox)." Significant to the general semantics notion of unsanity, Korzybski asserts that between the "two extremes we find all possible shades and degrees represented in daily life as well as in asylums." Because both extremes are "always fictitious and impossible," produce harmful delusions. In psychotherapy, attempts may be made to re-educate the extremist tendencies of extroverts and introverts: "The physician usually tries to make an extrovert more introverted, and an introvert more extroverted" (p. 88). In successful cases, patients recover altogether or improve considerably.

In contrast, the so-called normal people seldom adhere to their beliefs alone. When their beliefs begin to build a "fictitious world," they save themselves from this lunacy in "not abiding by them." In other words, a "so-called 'insane' person acts upon his beliefs, and so cannot adjust himself to a world which is quite different from his fancy." Balanced people should embody degrees of extroversion and introversion because "the introvert is 'all thought' and has not much use for the external world, while the extrovert is 'all senses' and has little use for 'thought.'" In short, to "eliminate the vicious and fictitious" in human outlooks, it is crucial to "try to educate a child to be neither an extreme extrovert nor an extreme introvert, but a balanced extroverted-introvert." Language that is not tailored to the extensional world threatens this balance when we impose a natural yet "primitive language upon our children, and so from childhood up imprison them unconsciously by the structure of the language and the so-called 'logic', in an anthropomorphic primitive universe" (pp. 88-89). Commenting ironically on the foibles of extroversion and introversion, Korzybski states that "it is easier to re-educate an introvert, because at least he 'thinks', but difficult to re-educate an extrovert, as he has not cultivated his capacity to 'think'" (p. 88). Yet, due to a cultural and linguistic imbalance toward an intensional orientation, an extensional orientation to language, life, and method can improve the likelihood of attaining and maintaining a balance between the dialectical tendencies of extroversion and introversion.

Hayakawa covers the extensional world and orientation discipline in this way. Deriving his thought on the matter from Korzybski, Hayakawa (1972) explains that the "verbal world ought to stand in relation to the extensional world as a map does to the territory it is supposed to represent." When children grow up with verbal maps in their heads that correspond rather closely to the extensional world they experience, they are not in much "danger of being shocked or hurt by what [they find]"; they are "prepared for life." However, when they grow up with false maps in their heads--that is, with heads "crammed with error and superstition," they will encounter trouble, waste energy, and act foolishly because they "will not be adjusted to the world as it is." With serious maladjustment to the world as it is, they may "end up in a mental hospital." The extensional point can be dead serious. Regardless of "how beautiful a map may be, it is useless to a traveler unless it accurately shows the relationship of places to each other, the structure of the territory." Yet, Hayakawa respects art and playfulness, an aspect of his writing frequently overlooked by critics: "if we are just drawing maps for fun, without paying attention to the structure of the region, ... [no] harm will be done unless someone tries to plan a trip by such a map" (p. 29). In short, an extensional orientation focuses on the world of experience. The symbol, word, map is not the thing symbolized, the thing, the territory.

Focusing on the map-territory analogy, Rapoport (1950) illustrates the extensional world and orientation discipline in this way. He cautions that no map "contains all the information about the territory it represents." Small scale maps may not show all the roads in a state nor latitude and longitude. While a "physical map goes into details about the topography of a country," it may be "indifferent to political boundaries." A map's scale makes a difference, that is. the "smaller the scale the less features will be shown." A map of a state may show most towns, but a map of the United States on the same scale and of the same size can "show only the larger cities" while a "map of the world may not show any." Rapoport notes four characteristics of maps and implicitly words and other symbols: (1) A map's accuracy "depends on the accuracy of the measurements that have gone into its making"; (2) The best maps become "obsolete sooner or later"; (3) "Different maps show different features"; and (4) "The more territory a map covers the less it can say about it." Characteristics 3 and 4 function in relation to the general semantics process of abstracting: (1) "Different people abstract different things"; and (2) In abstracting the characteristics of ever larger classes, "less can be said about all the members of the class." In brief, maps exemplify abstraction and operate as "symbol systems, because the features of the map stand for something, and the relations between the symbols also are part of the map." Subsequently, since good "maps bring about effective communication," communicators "might learn something about the difficulties of communication from the difficulties of cartography" (pp. 85-86).

And, last, Kodish and Kodish (2001) cover the extensional world and orientation discipline in this way. Although it recognizes the utility of verbal definitions in an intensional orientation, general semantics "rejects this emphasis" and prefers an extensional orientation. An extensional orientation employs extensional definitions. While extensional definitions begin by "pointing to some nonverbal 'things' or events which we intend by the word," extensional definitions can use words and other symbols to list examples and show "illustrations and videos, etc. of whatever we are defining." The authors consider this type of extensional definition as being "equivalent to operational definitions in scientific work" where operations describe "what someone needs to do to experience the individual referents, the particular 'things,'" that are referred to by words. Recipes provide exemplifications of operational definitions. For instance, with an extensional or operational definition of horse, communicators "enumerate, point to or describe in detail at least some individual horses" (pp. 158-159).

Consistent with Korzybski, Kodish and Kodish (2001) affirm that intensional and extensional orientations "exist on a continuum," that they "know of no one who exhibits a purely extensional orientation," that unfortunately "abundant examples of people near the other end of the continuum exist" and that "some of them are confined to institutions," that some "speak, write books, appear on radio and television, and run institutions," yet most people "appear somewhere in between." In other words, when people orient themselves "by verbal definitions," prefer "maps" to territories (even without checking maps against their actual territories), fail to become aware of "assumptions and inferences and to test them out when possible," and fail to distinguish among "different levels of abstracting," they "behave intensionally." When people orient themselves toward "facts," check "maps against possible territories," clarify and test "inferences and assumptions," and "identify different orders of abstracting," they "behave extensionally" (pp. 160-161).


One way to extend the notion of the extensional orientation is through context. As one of S.I. Hayakawa's many pleased graduate students, I was impressed with his rich, complex, and multifarious uses of language. In class, he would mention how many readers would misconstrue the practicality of his renditions of Koryzbski's general semantics. While Hayakawa noted that misinterpretations occurred with many general semantics concepts, the focus here will be on the extensional orientation. The overuse or hyperextension of the extensional orientation may serve as a way of contextualizing communication grounded in an extensional orientation. Hayakawa explained in class that a gentleman once asked him how to tie a tie. Hayakawa informed him that he would tell him how to make love but he would show him how to tit a tie. In short, overreliance on extensional language is not always sensible or practical.

In the original Star Trek series, Mr. Spock was known for being overly precise. Captain Kirk might utter some urgency about the "Starship Enterprise" being on a collision course with an asteroid and correction of the fatal course being needed in less than 10 minutes. Spock would then express his precisionist viewpoint in a response to this effect: "Yes, Captain, actually in precisely 9 minutes and 23.24 seconds."

Much of the time, the precision is not needed. A reasonable approximation may do. Hayakawa emphasized the practicality of circumstances. If precision is needed, the precision must be provided. When there is no need or desire for extensional orientation that is pedantic, for purposes of communication, the advice was to forgo the pedantic precision. However, if circumstances called for precision, then Spock's hyper-analytic perspective would be useful. For example, when an ophthalmologist is preparing a patient for cornea surgery, the surgeon may need to know how many micrometers deep the incision can be. If a 4-micrometer incision risks cutting into the patient's vitreous, then the surgical incision may be made at 2 micrometers to maintain the integrity of the eye and reduce the risk of puncturing the vitreous. Of course, a micrometer is so tiny that the surgeon has to set the blade through a magnifying glass to insure the depth desired.

In brief, precision has a place. Hayakawa stressed the pragmatics of contexts and so does this researcher. If an Innuit from Nunavut and a Panamanian from Panama City were visiting someone in a moderate temperature zone like San Francisco in July, the San Franciscan with an extensional orientation might use language that can be gauged instead of evaluative language to get an idea across to both visitors. Rather than reporting that the July day will be warm or cool, the San Franciscan may tell the visitors that the temperature on that particular July day will be around 70[degrees]F. For the Innuit, the 70[degrees]F might be thought of as warm while for the Panamanian cool. Relative to an objective measurement of the temperature with a thermostat that is known to work well with an error of no more than plus or minus one degree Fahrenheit, the visitors might have an idea of to prepare for the 70[degrees]F San Francisco day. Had the host told them it would be warm or cool today, the communication would likely have registered very different semantic reactions in the visitors from Nunavut and Panama--for instance, warm for the Innuit and cool for the Panamanian.

Unless the visitors were climatologists, to provide an approximate temperature of around 70[degrees]F would suffice. There would be no need to be extremely accurate in the extensional orientation. To do so would become as burdensome as the pedantic Spock who was precise across contexts. Again, the extensional orientation must be contextualized, for precisionist accounts are not the norm in most communicative contexts. In a now famous and highly cited one-page article appearing in the prestigious scientific journal entitled Nature, Watson and Crick (1953) discussing their structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid or DNA, note that the water content of the structure is "rather high" (p. 737). This is as extensional as the authors get. If the readers desired a measure on a microliter scale, it was not made available. When the context calls for an empirical grounding, communicators should have extensional capacities to deliver the extensionality required.

Contextualizing extensionality can be done interpersonally in dyads, triads, or small group communication. Agreements to code evaluative or descriptive words with extensional meanings can be formulated between people. The words may be evaluative and judgmental by the standards of general usage rather than measurable and verifiable descriptive terms. Hayakawa (1972) used the metaphorical expressions of purr and snarl words. Purr words slant positively toward the referent and snarl words negatively; they reveal something about the message source's state of mind and attitude toward the referent; they do not report anything directly about the referent (p. 40-41). To those outside the group with the specially defined words, the words are evaluative. To the in-group, the terms become, to borrow from Morris (1955) the technical word comsign meaning understood interpersonally. The terms serve as a basis for communication among those using the evaluative terms as descriptive terms. The in-group knows the evaluative terms have extensional referents, but those in the out-group do not share this extensional meaning. In short, the terms can be coded.

For example, a group of police officers may refer to a particularly disreputable person as a low-life. In itself, this term is not measurable although it is dynamically metaphorical. To concretize and extensionalize its meaning, the group of police officers may stipulate the definition among themselves to be: a person who commits a violent crime against others, such as physically abusing the elderly, battering wives, coercing children to take addictive and illegal drugs. As specially defined, the snarl word to outsiders becomes a word with extensional value to insiders. On a lighter topic, interpersonally, friends can communicate about attractive males or females, extensionally, by employing predefined appraiser terms as descriptors. A pictorial frame of reference is used as a common ground. To label a female as pretty can mean the woman looks like Jennifer Beale or Eva Mendez in 2010. To label a male as handsome can mean the man looks like Nicolas Cage or Denzel Washington in 2010. An in-group of friends might define buff with respect to women as having a figure like female fitness model on the covers of Oxygen Magazine. An in-group of friends might define buff with respect to men as having a build like bodybuilders on the covers of IronMan Magazine. Lastly, Talia Shire reported during a televised interview that when she was filming The Godfather, having familiarity with her family members, the director would tell her to show more of Aunt A's impatience or Aunt B's caring. Interpersonally, they had extensional common grounds that would translate into behaviors, but would have little descriptive value to other members of the cast. They shared extensionality through comsigns not available to others. To the rest of the community who had no special coded message, the terms used to direct her had no extensional meanings.


Another way to extend the notion of the extensional orientation is through grounding. The grounding must be in sensible experience of natural or invented realities that can be or have been socially and scientifically verified: existence in re versus in intellectu. Like a ground to protect one's house from lightening, a kite to a holder, or an anchor to a ship, having, finding, or inventing an extensional ground becomes critical to the development of an extensional orientation. Grounding should be sensitive to context and purpose. As a communicative power, grounding should be a strategic and reasonable choice to language and symbol users.

Unlike Mr. Spock, grounding should not be mandatory in all communication contexts. Rather, grounding should be the exercise of the power of an instrumental choice to verify a term, word, or symbol. Words used in many contexts are sufficiently clear that an extensional orientation can exist as a potential rather than actual power. Words used in some context demand the exercise of the power of the extensional orientation. Communicators may have to live according to the slogan on the Missouri license plate and embrace the extensional "show me" attitude toward terms and symbols.

Thus, in many contexts grounding through the exercise of the extensional orientation may be context dependent while in some contexts it may be context invariant. Under circumstances that demand exactness, such as scientific contexts, an extensive application of the extensional orientation may be necessary. Under circumstances that are not scientifically demanding, a limited application of the extensional orientation may simply be preferred and not required at all. Instead of risking the perception of being a pedantic bore, communicators who have developed the extensional orientation extensively may opt to use the orientation or withhold it but not abuse it. The owner of a Bugatti, a high-powered performance-car, can drive the car at legal speed limits around 50 kilometers (50 miles) per hour through the streets of Campogalliano in Italy or drive in several hours from northern to southern Germany on the autobahn at speeds averaging 160 kilometers (100 miles) per hour. Like Bugatti owners, communicators who embody high levels of the power to ground discourse through the extensional orientation can extensionalize modestly or boldly depending on conditions.

The tradition of general semantics yields a number of grounds for the extensional orientation. One, of course, is in the direct perception of an event. An ostensive definition, or definition by pointing, of the word moon in English or lima in Spanish or any other natural language word for moon would be to take someone outside at night and point at the moon as the word is uttered. Similarly, when leaning a language, the language teacher might point to a traffic stoplight to teach the colors for the words red, yellow, and green in English, to teach the words rojo, amarillo, and verde in Spanish, and so on with other natural languages. Grounding in sensible experience serves as a critical empirical base for a beneficial utilization of an extensional orientation. Grounding in sensory observation or experience may be the sine qua non of an empirical basis for learning and for an extensional orientation (Rapoport, 1950).

Morris (1955) talked about the empirical grounding of a term through its denotatum. All terms may have signification, but not all terms have denotation. For Morris, a term with denotation has a denotatum. A term or symbol can have a denotatum but it need not. A denotatum is a referent that can be experienced through the senses or scientific extensions of the senses through microscopes or other sensing equipment. In a poetic sense, the denotatum refers to things that do hump in the night (Sendak, 1970). In the language of traditional grammar, many nouns have denotata in the natural world, for example, dog, cat, bird, fish, car, bicycle, airplane, and so on. However, many nouns do not have denotata in the natural world. They either have no natural denotata or denotata that belong to human invention and imagination in its fictional and artistic manifestations, for example, unicorn, jackalope, griffin, minotaur, sharktopus, avatar, flying saucers, cylons, and so on. People can experience the denotata of dogs and cats at any pet store, but they can experience a unicorn or avatar only in such forms as statues or graphics. The denotata of the two differ significantly: one group being real by nature and one being real through human ingenuity and artifice. My interpretation of the thought of Charles Morris (Fiordo, 1977) is that he tended to use denotata to refer to natural phenomena; yet, his tendency would not preclude the application of denotata to things of human construction, such as the Empire State Building, the Taj Mahal, or the Tokyo Tower as well as Michelangelo's statue of David, Picasso's portrait of Igor Stravinsky, and an authentic copy of the Gutenberg Bible owned by the New York Public Library.

To illustrate the difference between a term having signification and denotation, two specific nouns known to traditional grammar as proper nouns will be explored. The term President Barack Obama carries the meaning of the person elected to the top office in the United States with all the powers and responsibilities that accompany that significant role and has the denotatum of the specific human who can be observed in person and who was born August 4, 1961 who in 2010 is serving in the capacity of the 44th President of the United States and the first African American to hold this office. The term "Liberty Bell" carries the meaning of a historical symbol of American independence and has a denotatum as well: the copper and tin bell cast in 1752 and recast in 1753 with a distinctive crack and a circumference of 12 feet weighing 2,080 pounds located at the Liberty Bell Center in Philadelphia, PA. In sum, the significant communication question becomes "Should I ground my words?" Or, more exactly, does the receiver of a message require its source to ground the message by activating an extensional orientation?

Grounding can be difficult. For everyday efforts, grounding costs a reasonable expenditure of energy to conserve a lot of energy. A colleague from Italy hands a sweet to a colleague from Norway and says, "Would you like a pizzelle?" The term pizzelle is given an extensional definition. Extensional matters at this level are frequent, useful, and undemanding. However, complex events may cause communicators confusion and a tendency to oversimplify the situation or to delude themselves about the nature of the event. When an illusionist is at work, the circumstances faced may become intractable. However, to catch an illusionist, especially a high-level one, perhaps only another illusionist can come to the rescue. Aside from daily matters that may rely on the so-called common senses for clarification, whether one is extensional in one's orientation or not, no one is totally immune to illusions of reality--deception or magic tricks.

Establishing what is being observed can be challenging and circumstantially impossible. Scientific teams, such as CSI units, might be needed but not available. So, people have to do their best to determine the nature of what it is that they are beholding; for example, a red stain on white clothing may be food coloring, paint, lipstick, blood, wine, or any number of elements that crude observation may not be able to ascertain. Mystery enters the picture and is solved or not. To proceed though without knowledge of depth needs of analysis under diverse conditions would be detrimental to the implementation of the extensional orientation. Counterfeit currency might be so close to legitimate currency that litmus-like tests are required of cashiers to test, for instance $20 US bills, as a first defense against the possibility of the money being phony. A marker may be used to check the bill to see whether a blackish color appears on the bill after the marker is used. If a blackish color appears, the bill becomes suspect. A costly art paintings, sculptures, and antiques appreciate similar mixed blessings since they can pose as real while being fraudulent. To determine whether a buyer is looking at a real and true Rembrandt or not may require a forensic art inspector, especially if the value of the painting is estimated as being hundreds of thousands of dollars.

There may be no easy antidote for sophisticated dimensions of fraud. The best that can be done is to summon inspectors with professional credentials and responsibilities. When individuals cannot count on the extensional grounding they generate, they have to rely on the authority of specialists to develop extensional measures. The important feature here is that investigation may occur and a valid, reliable ground may be found to satisfy extensional criteria.

Skewness on an Extensional-Intensional Orientation Interaction Continuum

Wimmer and Dominick (2003) clarify that although the word skewness remains a "valid statistical term," researchers more commonly use the word lean and its variations. That is, "researchers may say the data lean one way or another" as in "The data lean to the younger demographic groups." When statements like this are uttered, it means "there are more younger respondents or subjects in the data distribution" (p. 247). Applying this principle to a continuum with extensional orientation at one end that is scientifically preferred and intensional orientation at the other that is not scientifically preferred, to increase the likelihood of the ways of science being the ways of sanity, the leaning should be toward the extensional orientation. Intensional or cognitive dynamics will be present in human symbol and linguistic functioning but should not dominate when empirical concerns dominate.

By Korzybkian preferences for sanity, our human orientation should lean toward the extensional. To proceed with intensionality as given in human cognition, we are wise, in general semantics terms, to side with extensionality. To speak of ratios figuratively, extensionality and intensionality should function in ratios of 2:1 or 3:1 or 10:1 in favor of extensionality. If intensionality coexists with extensionality, it should, for purposes of science, be subordinated to extensionality. The continuum should be "extensional-ish" rather than "intensional-ish." For those who appreciate fiction, mythology, and fantasy and treat these as being other than science, intensionality has a valuable place. As long as people recognize they are enjoying the wizardry of our literary and artistic illusionists and insofar as they do not confuse the wizard with the scientist, intensionality need not be villainous. When cerebral slippage occurs and individuals confuse the illusion with the reality, the illusionist with the scientist, unsanity--if not insanity--may be present or on the horizon.

That the philosophy of Charles Morris contributes positively and favorably to general semantics has been elaborated elsewhere (Fiordo, 2010, 2011). Korzybski's extensional orientation for sanity coincides with Morris' account of scientific empiricism which integrates theory, observation, and practice. Morris treated scientific empiricism as the method or procedure of the sciences: it points to the "widest possible generalization of scientific method" (Morris, 1938a, b, p. 69). Orienting itself around the methods and results of the sciences, scientific empiricism includes "everything the scientific enterprise involves, together with the implications of this enterprise for other human interests." Because its orientation is empirical and logical, scientific empiricism is "positive and cooperative in nature" (Fiordo, 1977, pp. 41-42) and incorporates "its one observational-hypothetical-deductive-experimental method" (Morris, 1938b, p. 72).

The observational-hypothetical-deductive-experimental method can be described as having four phases: (1) the appearance of a problem; (2) deducing the consequences of the hypothesis- corresponding to an inference of abduction or determining plausibility based on a set of evidence; (3) the formulation of a hypothesis to solve the problem--corresponding to an inference of deduction or reasoning from general to specific; and (4) the testing of the hypothesis by measuring and checking deduced consequences corresponding to an inference of induction or reasoning from specific to general. In other words, an area of investigation is identified as being problematic in a context of other events that are unproblematic. A hypothesis is formulated to solve the problematic event. The consequences of the hypothesis are elaborated and tested against observation. When the test of the hypothesis is positive, that which is problematic may be resolved, thereby verifying to a degree the hypothesis and perhaps advancing to "new problems which are encountered" (Fiordo, 1977, pp. 42-43).

Morris' scientific empiricism "embraces the entire enterprise of science," befriending the "rationalist, empiricist, and pragmatist while simultaneously correcting their isolated one-sidedness" (p. 42). Highly relevant to general semantics and Koryzbski's extensional orientation, scientific empiricism, "resting on a science expansive in scope and critical in disposition," unites the "empirical habit of mind with an emphasis upon logical analysis and conceptual clarification" while "recognizing the social element in knowledge"--science's "social objectivity." In conclusion, scientific empiricism "avoids the extremes of traditional 'rationalism' and 'empiricism'" (p. 43). In terms of the extensional-intensional orientation interaction continuum, the intensionality of rationalism remains potentially honorable yet must be subjugated ultimately to the extensionality of empiricism.

The dialectical tension between intensional and extensional orientation plays itself out daily in the lives of communicators and symbol users. The tension is present in those with, or claiming to practice, an extensional orientation; and, it plays itself out between people having predominantly an extensional or intensional orientation. If a community of people conscious of the distinction between the two orientations actively pursues the extensional orientation, there is no guarantee that the objective will be fulfilled. Errors occur. A key observation is overlooked. Attention goes inward when it should go outward. There will be predictable extensional orientation breakdowns. The concerted effort of the extensional orientation community would be to minimize, if not eliminate, extensional abuses, that is, thinking or behaving intensionally when extensional thinking or behavior is required.

Grounded in the assumption of a continuum between extensional and intensional orientation, it might be beneficial and wise to construe the extensional and intensional orientations, with respect to skewness producing dominance and subordination, by hyphenating the two with the dominant one being first. Working within the realm of normal psychology, two options would result. The first option, preferred by Korzybski, would be signified as an extensional-intensional orientation (or simply, an EI-orientation). The extensional would thus dominate, as it should, the intensional. The less sane or unsane or insane version, by Korzybskian standards, would be signified as an intensional-extensional orientation (or simply, an IE-orientation). The intensional would thus dominate, as it should not, the extensional.

In organizational settings in the United States and Canada, it would not be unusual to identify managers or administrators who practice an intensional-extensional (or IE) orientation without self-awareness and in ignorance of their own practical inclination--rather than an extensional-intensional (or EI) orientation. The manager with an intensional orientation may be seen as "being book-smart" yet lacking in "experience and commonsense." This might legitimately be translated as the person in charge has a counterproductive intensional orientation that should be replaced with a productive extensional orientation. One instance that embodies the problem between the tension between extensional and intensional orientations can be seen in the in-charge person "going by the book" but lacking discretionary power gained from experience to guide people sensibly and reasonably. The map dominates the territory. The "ought" dominates the "is" (Morris, 1964). This researcher has been told repeatedly by many people with organizational experience that some people "have trouble seeing what is in front of them and some are able to see what is in front of them." Instead of having a comparatively healthy and socially verifiable exten-sional-intensional orientation, the intensional-extensional orientation reigns supreme to the potential detriment of those involved.

Extensionally oriented drivers constantly look to the changing condition of the road and adjust to unexpected circumstances--road signs, potholes, and so forth. A construction barricade on the road is noted and respected. A map that shows a paved road that is actually a dirt road is subordinated to the actual road observed. With the intensionally oriented driver, the map rules--regardless of the facts one's senses deliver through experience. The extensionally oriented driver who takes the same road daily watches for differences, for no two days are identical. Of the 99 times the extensional driver came to a particular four-way stop sign, there was no traffic. On experience 100, the extensional driver, being alert to differences, notes with safety two other cars at the four-way stop and proceeds with care. Because of the extensional-intensional orientation rules, the welfare of this driver, and those who share the road at the same time and place, prevails.

Reports--Inferences--Judgments:Alternatives and Refinements

Alternatives and refinements to the terms reports, inferences, and judgments exist. Several will be mentioned. The terminology Dr. Jac Andrews, Professor of Educational Psychology, at the University of Calgary (personal communication, September 7, 2010) uses will be elaborated. Morris (1970) had an attitude of detachment, possibly a "releasement," toward language. If different words or phrases served a purpose better than terms inherited, he urged that the most suitable terms be applied regardless of their enshrinement in the language and culture.

Drawing from Hayakawa's (1972) definitions, a report is a "basic symbolic act ... of what we have seen, heard, or felt." Reports include "reports of reports" and "adhere to the following rules: first, they are capable of verification; second, they exclude, as far as possible, inferences and judgments" (pp. 34-35). Examples of reports would be (1) There is grass inside the medians on 1-94 between Bismarck and Medora in North Dakota; and (2) There are no moose in Death Valley but there are kangaroo rats. Examples of reports of reports would be (1) Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories of Canada is the largest lake entirely within the borders of Canada; and (2) USA Today (2010) says that the US Marines in Afghanistan want to more than double the number of bomb-sniffing Labrador Retrievers in the southern part of the country. Report language, "including the more accurate reports of science," maps "reasonably accurate representations of the 'territory'" (p. 36). Reports apply to mapping experience in the extensional world. When people carry relatively accurate maps in their heads, they are truly and sanely "prepared for life." When people carry false or faulty maps in their heads, they will "constantly be running into trouble" and will "not be adjusted to the world as it is" (p. 29).

An inference designates a "statement about the unknown made on the basis of the known.'" Inferences may be "carefully or carelessly made." People may draw inferences "on the basis of a broad background of previous experience with the subject matter or with no experience at all." Most notably though, although inferences are "statements about matters which are not directly known," they are "made on the basis of what has been observed" (p. 37). In relation to human interaction, when people guess at what is going on in the minds of others, they are not reporting. To say, "Elvira was angry," is not to report; rather, it is an inference from such observations as the following: "Elvira slapped the lead guitarist across the face, broke his guitar on the stage floor, and swore at the entire band."

Hayakawa (1972) suggests that inferential statements like the one about Elvira may be clear and safe, relatively speaking. However, the dangers of inferential statements masquerading as or being perceived as reports constitute ongoing risks. It is wise to be alert to inferences made after casual and superficial observation in statements of this type: "He is homophobic," "She is narcissistic," "They are greedy," or "That driver is drunk." As regards inferences, it is not that "we should never make inferences," for the "inability to make inferences is itself a sign of mental disorder." In other words, "the question is not whether or not we make inferences"; it is "whether or not we are aware of the inferences we make" (p. 38).

Before going on to judgments, the relation of inferences to attribution theory (Heider, 1958) should be noted. Attribution theory deals with "the ways people infer causes of behavior." As people draw inferences about the causes of behavior, their own and others, individual patterns of causal perception--or perceptual styles--emerge. Depending on their "style of attribution," people interpret affairs--that is, make inferences--in ways that "seem true to the person involved." The attribution of causation in a "variety of behaviors may be perceived as stemming from a single cause, or, conversely, one behavior may be thought to arise from several causes" (Littlejohn & Foss, 2005, p. 68). For example, a person reports that a couple has been married for 10 years, and no inference is drawn. Afterward, the reporter may infer that the couple is compatible. Another person might infer that the couple has adjusted to differences. A third person might infer that opposites attract. A fourth might infer that their children keep them together. A fifth might infer that they were in love since junior high school. A sixth might infer that neither has options outside of their relationship. A seventh might infer that they knew one another in a former life. And, the inferences can go on with variations, permutations, etc. indefinitely. To return to a time before the inference is made, the reporter might be satisfied merely to describe the 10-year married couple.

In The Nibelungenlied (Armour, 1961), as this researcher reads it, attribution plays a role subordinate to descriptive reporting. Instead of being a psychological thriller with fictional closure on motives and motivations for behavior, the author of The Nibelungenlied, a 13th Century Germanic epic, remains, so it seems to this researcher, as fulfilled as a hardcore journalist or a staunch behaviorist with descriptive accounts punctuating actions that came prior to some event followed by responses that came after the events. Causal linkage of attributes seems epistemologically risky to the author of this saga who seems to be conscious of the warnings of attribution theory that cause is not readily determinable. For purposes of inference analysis, the thinned use in The Nibelungenlied of psychological interpretation or inference of the causes of behavior suits this research's purposes in alerting others to make inferences cautiously and be satisfied, when possible, with reports.

And, a judgment involves all expressions of the message source's "approval or disapproval of the occurrences, persons, or objects [described]" (p. 38). Examples include the following: (1) "It was a fabulous car"; (2) "She is a homely actress"; (3) "He is a crooked politician"; (4) "Jade is smart"; (5) "Chris is funny"; and (6) "The Representative was stalwart." Hayakawa (1972) recommends that judgments be translated into reports. While the process is not always is, to deliver verifiable statements, judgments must be transformed into reports. Thus, the judgmental statement, "The Representative was stalwart," must be converted, for purposes of verifiability, into a report something like, "The Representative vote was the only one in favor of the bill."

Without the translation from a judgment to a report, the receiver of the judgmental statement only knows the source of the message approved the Representative. With the other statements of judgment entered above, a message interpreter with semantic acumen would be able to deduce only that the message source approved the car, disapproved the looks of the actress and the Governor, approved intelligence of Jade, and approved the humor of Chris. The interpreter has information, but it is not the sort a report would provide about these people. The report would reveal what observable events comprised the judgment--or, the assessment, the evaluation. The information that can be taken from the statement of judgment might, optimally, be appreciated as autobiographical reactions to the persons, objects, or occurrences. Judgments may provide information, but not the type of information reports yield.

As a further illustration, when a US citizen in 2010 lauds Sarah Palin, that citizen judges her favorably--that is, expresses approval. When a US citizen in 2010 excoriates Sarah Palin, that citizen judges her unfavorably--that is, expresses disapproval. Both judgmental statements would need to be converted to reports to approach an extensional understanding of what is being uttered. The judgmental statements do provide though an index of the communicators' declared feelings; their judgments exteriorize what is interior. So, the proclaimed judgment could function like a thermometer indicating a high temperature like 120[degrees]F and a low temperature like -40[degrees]F. The judgmental expressions reflect the positive and negative feelings the sources have for Sarah Palin, even though they do not tell us much about the extensional being known as Sarah Palin.

Andrews (personal communication, September 7, 2010) of the University of Calgary, proposes terms worthy of consideration. Intended for clinical assessments, these terms are grounded in the methods of social science. Andrews uses terms in a sense similar to that used by Hayakawa. To decide on the condition of a patient, a judgment is required. Using the word judgment in a way similar to that of Hayakawa, Andrews stresses the need to avoid a rush to judgment. To prevent a rush to judgment, he emphasizes the need to scrutinize data and the interpretation of that data.

With respect to hyphenation in general semantics, a rush to judgment might be thought of also as a rush to classification judgment since linguistic behavior frequently classifies its judgments verbally or symbolically. Symbol users should do what is reasonable to prevent a rush to a classification judgment, that is, to a classification or to a verbal classification with the subsequent risks of stereotyping, faulty classification, misuse of language, etc.--and thereby ignoring sizable and relevant distinguishing properties between one judged item and another, differences that can be noted through the extensional devices of dating and indexing. With reverence to literary traditions, in Greco-Roman mythology, the heroically virtuous inherited Elysium. In Norse mythology, Valhalla receives the heroically virtuous. The heroically virtuous, hopefully, have been classified with care and accuracy. Hopefully, there have been not careless and inaccurate classifications or faulty rushes to judgment. Elysium and Valhalla would then be faced with angry heroic warriors who were rushed to judgment and did not receive their proper and honorable classification!

The word data resembles Hayakawa's employment of report, and interpretation resembles Hayakawa's rendition of inference. Andrews advocates the meticulous analysis of the data and a theoretical model from psychology for interpreting the data. The data gathered is complex as well, for it may include direct observations, historical documentation of the patient, batteries of psychological tests, and so on. The interpretation of the data might take one or more clinical theoretical frameworks, for example, behavioral, social information processing, family interaction, transactional, protection and vulnerability, developmental systems, and attribution.

Consistent with Andrews, Violato (Violato, 1990, 2010; Violato, McDougall, & Marini, 1992), distinguished research professor at the University of Calgary, stresses the need to be exacting with facts--namely, validated and verified reports. He admonishes PhD candidates to be careful of those who maintain an unexpressed premise such as "Don't confuse me with the facts." To Violato (2010), data is supreme, not theory. Science has corrected its view of the cosmos painstakingly over the centuries. Social science has done likewise. Paradigms shift (Kuhn, 1962) but not daily. When paradigms shift, sometimes in modest increments, the data refines the theory and its direction. The history of ideas pertaining to the earth as the center of the universe to its current status as a planet in a solar system in a galaxy punctuates a struggle to gather facts and interpret them more accurately in order to reach a valid judgment. In fact, even in mathematics, with respect to change, the "main difficulty in many modern developments of mathematics," explains Sawyer (1982), "is not to learn new ideas but to forget old ones." The challenge in "grasping a new theory is that one tends to carry over to it habits of thinking of thinking which belong to the old theory." Indeed, the "present age is a striking example of the chaos produced by the slow movement of ... ideas" (p. 65).

From sound data, inferences must be drawn with care to develop a reasonable and intelligible interpretation of the data. Ultimately, a judgment (i.e., a decision to accept or reject an idea) must remain, in principle, open to additional data and therefore to reinterpretation through additional inferences and finally to a sound judgment informed by improvements on the existing data. To judge is a goal substantiated by intelligent interpretation of solidly established data. Violato (2010) argues that it is wise to look at the grounds for the data, for the data may be like bedrock or like sand. The desired grounding is, of course, bedrock, and should be honored when the solidness is present. When the grounding is sand, its soft limitations must be acknowledged for their limitations as well. However, the builders of the Tower of Pisa created a world monument by wrongfully judging the soil and their foundation to be less resistance to pressures than it was. Had their tests, measures, and computations been correct by contemporary construction standards, the engineers would have adjusted their efforts to allow the Tower of Pisa to remain as intended rather than salvage a project by converting it to the "Famous Leaning Tower of Pisa"--as if the leaning design was deliberate.

The traditional terms from general semantics of report, inference, and judgment need not be changed. Other terms though might be used to adjust the language more precisely to the context of the discourse being analyzed. The attempt in this discussion has been to suggest alternative terms that can, circumstantially, be refinements. The essential soundness of the terms reports, inferences, and judgments must be and is respected. Semanticists in general as well as general semanticists may honor without compunction synonymous expressions and disambiguate them to improve communication.

What might be of value in expanding the realm of the extensional orientation is to examine contexts to determine what information inferences and judgments generate. The ability to reduce inferences and judgments to reports is an especially powerful skill for journalists, lawyers, teachers, and researchers. However, messages may simply provide readers, viewers, or listeners with statements that are completely or predominantly inferences and judgments rather than factual, verifiable, or disprovable reports. When this occurs, the message interpreter may be able to garner useful information from the inferences and the judgments. The grounding might be, as Violato suggests, sand rather than bedrock, but information can nonetheless be deduced. Sand may serve one purpose and bedrock another. However, the purposes differ considerably in practical ways. The point here is that inferences and judgments can have extensional utility on social and psychological levels even in the absence of reports. Reports may maintain their gold standard in the extensional dimension of scientific discourse, but inferences and judgments can vie for silver and gold depending on the topic of research being probed.

Extensional Devices: Established and Proposed

To attain extensionalization, Korzybski (2000) set forth the following extensional devices now familiar to general semantics students: indexes, dates, et cetera, quotes, and hyphens. Before reviewing the established extensional devices, it might be logically advantageous to preface the review with Korzybski's account of over/underdefined terms. Suggestive of a fundamental error of formal or dictionary definition, Korzybski (2000) proposes the premise of terms being over/underdefined. The fundamental error of definition Korzybski decries is that most terms are over/underdefined: "They are over-defined (overlimited) by intension, or verbal definition, because of our belief in the definition" and "underdefined by extension or facts" (p. lxiv). A bold, but sensible, assertion that the over/underdefined language principle applies to discourse in general may be hazarded as well. When the context of language is sufficiently unclear and unverifiable, for the lack of perspicuity and verifiability may operate in increasing noise and decreasing signal in the signal-noise ratio of human communication, communicators can ground at least portions of their discourse to enhance their extensional experience.

Since intension and extension signal different types of evaluation, most generalizations are over/underdefined "depending upon whether our attitude is intensional or extensional." For example, "maladjusted, neurotics, psychotics, etc. orient themselves by intension most of the time." Because maladjusted people "believe in their limited verbalisms," they "evaluate by overdefini-tion"--"not by extensional facts, which make us conscious of underdefinition" (pp. lxiv-lxv). One uplifting illustration of over/underdefined terms should suffice since, practically speaking, an entire "dictionary could be quoted." Korzybski humorously explains that a film executive reports that "actors have frequent verbal arguments about what is funny." Rather than argue incessantly about the nature of what constitutes being funny, the "only thing to do is to try it before an audience." At this point, three consequences become manifest: (1) If it makes the audience laugh, "it may be termed funny"; (2) If it fails to make the audience laugh, "it may be termed not funny"; and (3) The audience may, in the meantime, remark that "the subject in dispute is neither funny nor not-funny." That is, the audience thinks it "is merely boring" (p. lxviii).

With under/overdefined terms serving as a preface, the extensional devices can now be comprehended efficaciously. To reduce the abuse of generalizations, the index allocates feelings about a generalization or general category to one individual. Instead of a generalization about Laplanders, this device requires a language used to put an index number next to the term so that a distinction is made between Laplander 1 and Laplander 2. The indexed Laplander can be specified further by adding a date to the particular Laplander. Instead of merely improving on the unwarranted generalization of Laplanders through indexing, for example Laplander 2 and not 3, Korzybski advises dating the individual. Dating refers to placing a date on the individual, not going out for a social or romantic evening. Thus, after indexing Laplander 2, a date may be specified as well, for instance, Laplander 2/2010. Now, the discussion is about Laplander 2 in 2010, not in 1990.

Single quotes are used around words to suggest a special sense or the need for evaluating the word with care (Kodish & Kodish, 2001). If Laplander means more specifically a "member of the Sami people of the Lapland area of Scandinavia," single quotes might be used to better designate and evaluate the term. When the term is used a carelessly to "label a fiction" (Korzybski, 2000, pp. lx-lxii), single quotes can caution the readers, hence, 'Laplander.' Hyphens help correct the elemental problem in language, that is, splitting or separating "what in actuality cannot be separated" (p. lxii). Space and time cannot be separated in physics, but they can be in language. To make language reflect physics more accurately, space-time replaces space and time. To add the corrective of quotes to eliminate the space and time elemental fiction, space-time can become "space-time."

Et cetera or Etc. is a traditional extensional device with enough power to have a journal named after it--Etc. Et cetera serves as the antidote for allness or the delusion that all can be known and said about something. Nonallness affirms that all cannot be known nor said about anything. Et cetera or Etc. constitutes an extensional reminder that nonallness is the reality, not allness; it indicates that more can be said because a map never delivers all of the territory it represents. In other words, it encourages a "comma and more" attitude over a "period and stop" attitude (Kodish & Kodish, 2001, p. 170). In Science and Sanity, referring to the Mikado or the Japanese Head of State, Korzybski (2000) illustrates the term and concept of et cetera in this way: "By definition and/or creed the mikado is supposed to be some sort of a 'god,' etc." (p. Ixx).

To extend extensional devices is no easy effort. With high hopes that others interested in growing general semantics will generate additional extensional devices, advancing the development of extensional devices will begin with the following modest proposals. While computer graphics allow for a number of devices (e.g., diverse print styles, colors, etc.) that can extensionalize printed language, space permits only a few here.

Statements that can be identified as reports, inferences, and judgments can be signaled, for practical purposes, in bold print for reports, in italics for inferences, and with underlining for judgments. These suggestions would be simple to employ on computers. More intricate options though are available. Given the skills of the computer artist, reports can also be signaled in color (perhaps, brown to suggest a ground in earth), capitals, larger font (e.g., 14 font with a norm of 12 font), or in Broadway style (e.g., statements of reports) to establish its significance as an extensional ground. Inferences can be symbolized in smaller print (e.g., 10 font with a norm of 12 font), color (perhaps, purple to suggest not of the ground), or Pristina style (e.j, statements of inference) to establish departure from the relatively solid ground of extensionalized reports. Likewise, judgments can be signified in the font size that is the norm for the printed document (e.g., 12 font), color (perhaps, green to suggest openness to change and growth), or Old English Text style (e.g., Statements of jubgments) to suggest an anchoring in a belief that may or may not be sound but may be maintained with a degree of tenacity. One caution on the elaborate possibilities available through computer technology should be mentioned. For utility and practicality, it is wise to keep the extensional devices as simple as possible, thus, report, inference, and judgment. Even Korzybski (2000) ignored, arguably, Occam's and Einstein's razors with abbreviated punctuation marks for et cetera. From etc., he advanced to six special abbreviated punctuation uses, for example, [.? for etc.?] and [.! for etc.!] (p. 16).

More will be said of reports, but not of inferences and judgments. Reports can also assist the extensional cause through signs indicating that a statement of a report has been verified, is verifiable, has not been verified, and is not verifiable. Staying with a maxim of simplicity, a report statement can have letters coding its status put at the end in parentheses. To illustrate, these are possible codes: capital V for verified, small v for verifiable, capital NV for not verified, and small nv for not verifiable. So, adding to the original suggestion about putting a report in bold print, a verified report such as the following might be coded in this way: "There are exactly 33 students in section 10 of Introduction to General Semantics at Extensional Orientation College (V)." A verifiable report that has been officially recorded but not yet researched can be coded in this way: "One centimeter of rain fell in the Bad Water Basin area of Death Valley on 23 August 2008 (v, NV)." A checking with records from the Death Valley National Park would verify this report of rain or not. Also, a report that is not verifiable today, and is dated October 11, 2010, but can be verified later can be coded in this way: "The Mayan calendar says the world as we know it will end in December of 2012 (NV, nv)."

Of course, reports can also be, and currently are to some extent, coded with respect to probability ranging from certainty to impossibility. It is also possible to code rankings and weightings as well as truth, falsity, and indeterminacy. These possibilities can be explored later. Similarly, other features of inferences and judgments can be mapped, but these pursuits can be investigated elsewhere.

A Clear View through a Clear Channel

Hayakawa (personal communication, October 5, 1968) advised students to experience the world as clearly as possible. One of his recommendations was to learn at least one alternative symbol system to English or whatever one's first language was. His suggestion aimed to loosen the grip that language has on human perception. With a second language, linguistic imperialism would become diluted, if not dissolved, with extensionality dominating the perceptual scene. The zennist version of the all-seeing eye endeavors to have a clear view of reality and of the details of reality through a clear channel (Osho, 2004); this becomes more attainable when people learn a second symbol system.

Morris (personal communication, August 2, 1973) advised students to experience the world as clearly as possible. He endorsed a related version of the all-seeing eye: the total self-inclusive view of reality and of the details of reality. One of his recommendations was to keep one area of observation or study relatively free, if not entirely free, of language--especially analytical or scientific terminology--in order to gain an extensional supremacy over the perceived world. Since language biases human perception, sign users might select an area of concern or appreciation and forgo the development of scientific or technical language so that perception of this realm would not be tainted or directed by language. Morris' personal selection was biology. He kept naming to a minimum in this area of study. He observed it closely but not through the lenses of science or other detailed terminology. Again, the zennist endeavor of having of a clear view of reality through a clear channel becomes more attainable when people can observe at least aspects of reality with limited terms. Optimally, the picture people can have of the world may become clear with a limited vocabulary--terministic screens as Burke (1966) entitled it--or, ideally, with no words. Hayakawa and Morris both sought to provide students with the opportunity for a clear view of reality (or events in the observable and perceptible world) by decreasing intensionality and increasing extensionality. While both sign masters offered different maps to reach this territory, a zen-like clarity of perception pervaded their instructions.

When looking at the phenomenal world, the world of percepts, viewers may experience what they are seeking like cardiologists testing through instruments for clogged arteries. One story about the Buddha has a colorful tone to it. After years in the cave, the Buddha was asked whether he saw ghosts in the cave. As the story goes, he returned to the cave for the answer and later confirmed to the questioner that ghosts were in the cave. He was not looking for ghosts but he found them once he looked. Figurative as this story may be, it relates a fundamental truth about investigation and perception of the extensional world. Cardiologists may be looking for clogged arteries and find them. Technologically, they may have sufficiently sensitive equipment to find the clogged arteries. However, there may be other troublesome conditions in the arteries that are going unobserved. With another question posed, the cardiologist might locate another condition--just as the Buddha located the ghosts.

When people have biases in what they look for, they may miss many other items not on their perceptual checklist. For practical purposes, physicians may procedurally and legally have to rule on what a troublesome condition is not. Tests may have to be conducted to rule out ailments that are not appearing positively on the equipment used to identify and measure the pathologies. CSI specialists have to follow a battery of tests for similar reasons. As human beings on planet earth in diverse locales around the globe, people have to look daily at and for specified phenomena at work, at home, and in their comings and goings. People may look for dangers and try to avoid them. Yet, in looking for dangers in the terrain, the beauty of the flowers may go unnoticed. In being open to some phenomena, people can become closed to other phenomena.

The advice of Morris and Hayakawa to stay open to experience is echoed by Carl Rogers (1961), Fritz Perls (1969), Rollo May (1969), and other psychologists and philosophers (Bandura, 1990; Kohlberg, 1984) as well as sensible everyday people and ever probing researchers. Although controversy has become a part of its growth and development (Charmaz, 2006; Clarke, 2005; Goulding, 2002; Thomas & James, 2006), in emphasizing the generation of theory from data when conducting research and working from data collection instead of developing a hypothesis, grounded theory (Glaser, 1992; Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Mertens, 2009; Strauss, 1987) seems to have an approach to data rigorously open in principle to seeing what the data justifies but in contrast to traditional scientific method. Much conventional experimental research formulates a hypothesis about phenomena that can be identified and measured. Subsequently, it finds what is there and quantifies it for statistical tabulation, interpretation, and judgment. When researchers are not biased or sure about what they are seeking and wish to remain open to what the data delivers, grounded theory may afford a radical approach to the extensional world--an approach that looks with fresh and uncategorized eyes.

Grounded theory, at least in principle from a perspective optimistic to extensionality, aims at a theory that emerging data can modify. A grounded theory may not be seen right or wrong as much as being seen as being more or less fit, relevant, workable, and modifiable. Dr. Claudio Violato (personal communication, September 3, 2010), distinguished Research Professor at the University of Calgary, cautions students and colleagues to be wary of those who "do not want to be confused by the facts research may yield." He criticizes those who favor ideas (or preconceptions) over facts, especially when the facts do not fit the preconceptions. His admonition might fit grounded theory in a relevant and workable manner since it is modifiable. It therefore remains malleable to additional data. The facts are not likely to confuse this researcher. Whether a professional researcher at a university or a mindful worker in everyday life, grounded theory, done with high levels of sophistication or at pragmatically applied basic levels, offers promise to the viewers or investigators of seeing through the intensional world of terministic screens.

A final comment on openness to the immediately invisible that might, with systematic endeavor, appear may be in order. Several years ago, N.E. Thing Enterprises (1993) through Magic Eye books made autostereograms (Wikipedia, 2010) popular. These graphics are intricate and use iconic to abstract graphics to create 3D visual illusions from 2D images in the human brain. However, images are hidden in the complex configurations of the graphics. From those this researcher viewed, the graphics might conceal an encapsulated picture of Noah and his Ark, a mediating Buddha, a mandala, dolphins swimming in ocean waves, and so on. To view autostereograms--or even animated autostereograms--directly, this researcher directs the reader to view several examples online in the Wikipedia under the name autostereo-gram. Several still autostereograms and one animated version are available at

Unlike the observation of reality, graphic images done in the autostereogram style may allow viewers to know in advance what the images contain by provided charts with the hidden image for each graphic. Sometimes a verbal description tells the view what to seek. Sometimes no visual or verbal guidance is provided. When this happens, the viewers have to walk through the lonely valley of perception to see the picture unfold. It is more like the challenges of perception of complex phenomena in life where no maps are given. The actual world may not allow for such a perceptual luxury. An inquirer may look for a lifetime and see nothing special or have no epiphany. Autostereograms were enormously popular in Japan and Korea as well as the United States and Canada in the 1990s (N.E. Thing Enterprises, 1993); they afford an insightful analog to the perception of whatever unknowns may exist in an extensional event, yet has not yet been perceived.

A special way of looking and seeing is needed to see the hidden image in the autostereogram, just as a special way of looking and seeing is needed to identify phenomena rarely, or never before, experienced. Zen meditation and other forms of meditation seek to see what is and its nature, but has only been perceived by rare forms of humans who are, presumably, enlightened or luminescent beings (Naranjo & Ornstein, 1973). It might be the case that those considered by Zen and other meditative traditions to be enlightened beings may well have stereopsis or stereovision--a special capacity, perhaps, a superhuman or supra-human capacity to perceive the world above and beyond that of the general mortal lot of humanity. In general semantics, the etc principle of nonallness applies here; for after much has been said on a topic, it cannot be concluded that all has been said. If a planet with earthlike life sustaining qualities has not been found and is found in 2010, seeing the planet is a necessary precursor to determining in detail whether life may exist on that planet--or may ever have existed. The seeing of a phenomenon never before experienced allows for additional speaking about the phenomenon. Vision and its clarity become critical to our perception of the phenomena in the extensional world.

Having expressed in this section the value of a vision as unobstructed by language and symbols as human consciousness can attain, as slight as this might be as the American critic Kenneth Burke (personal communication, October 9, 1973) maintains, the role of the cartographer to map the territory plainly and accurately without distortion becomes mighty. While perceptual limitations resulting from symbolic processing influence the way humanity sees the world, much reflection on thinking and meditating has addressed the nearly clairvoyant objective of higher levels of awareness in seeing the world as it is as free as possible from the biases of the semanti-cally and symbolically cluttered mind. While human mentality may rarely, if ever, attain an unimpaired view of reality, philosophers, scientists, and religionists (Johnson, 1968; Hopkins, 1992; Morris, 1932, 1970; Naranjo & Ornstein, 1973) have exercised themselves to clear the debris and remove the tint on the windshields through which we gaze upon the extensional world daily.

Questioning Hegemony and Resolving Conflicts Extensionally: Instructional Illustrations

An extensional orientation discipline does not benefit only those in the sacred halls of science. All walks of life, professional and pedestrian, are resplendent with healthy possibilities for applying an extensional orientation wisely and effectively. Judgments are a part of human affairs and communication. Oftentimes, judgments follow feebly from evidence that has not been presented, examined in depth, or studied without bias. Subsequently, the evidence does not advance an interpretation that yields a judgment without prejudice. Selected illustrations, hypothetical or historiographical, of human interaction where extensionality would resolve conflict and reduce foolish or abusive hegemony will be mentioned.

Illustration 1: The recollection of the historiographical account of Galileo, the Father of Modern Science, might illustrate hegemonic intensionality overriding scientific extensionality. Galileo held Copernican views of the universe grasped at that time. His views were heliocentric rather than geocentric. He encountered powerful opposition from philosophers and clerics. Eventually, Galileo (Wikipedia) was investigated through members of the Roman Inquisition. Although cleared of charges at first, he was later put under house arrest by the Church for the rest of his life for propagating heliocentric views. The scientific reality of the earth circling the son bowed for a time to the dogma that the son circled the earth. Thanks to continued and long-suffering scientists with extensional orientations, the scientific truth finally enjoyed the sunshine from a heliocentric point of view. The conflicts Galileo suffered were resolved through growing scientific support. Unfortunately, in diverse locales in countless contexts, Galileo's unfortunate treatment repeats in varied forms today in spite of the lesson learned from this punished historical figure.

Illustration 2: To relate a hypothetical tale of two university departments might further illustrate this point. Academic Department Alpha receives an award for being more productive in terms of publications than Academic Department Omega. The award is granted readily, quickly, and without much ado for having 10% more publications. The ignored unexten-sional analysis then comes into play. The reanalysis of the decision is found to fall short of recognizing factors at work in Alpha that are not at work in Omega. Relevant evidence has been overlooked. The measurable factors may inarguably point to possibilities for the heightened productivity in Alpha and the diminished performance in Omega. The differences might well be reinterpreted as favoring Alpha's progress unwarrantedly over Omega's. The differences might be seen as sufficient to advance Alpha's performance over Omega's.

A follow-up extensional investigation uncovers the following differences: (1) Alpha faculty members teach two classes each semester while Omega faculty members teach four classes each semester; (2) Alpha members have one graduate assistant for teaching and research each semester while Omega members have no graduate assistants; (3) Alpha faculty members have a travel allowance of $2,500 per year while Omega faculty members have $500; (4) Alpha faculty members have secretarial assistance of 10 hours per week while Omega faculty members have no secretarial assistance; (5) Alpha faculty members have state-of-the-art computer and Internet access while Omega faculty members have outdated computers and limited Internet access; (6) Department Alpha has 20 tenured faculty members at the rank of Associate Professor or above while Department Omega has 10 tenured faculty members at the rank of Associate Professor or above; and (7) Alpha produced 20 publications over the year while Omega produced 18. These extensional realities, had they been considered, would have prevented a rush to judge Department Alpha so favorably. Conflicts would be resolved reasonably and empirically.

Illustration 3: People sometimes misquote lines or express ideas incorrectly from literature, scriptures, films, and other media forms. Sometimes they quote lines or express ideas correctly. In both situations, debacles may follow. Those perpetuating faulty quotes may have, or assume, authority and impose their misinformation on others. One way to break the grip of folly is to exercise one's intellectual right to be extensional in orientation and discipline. Hypothetical instances drawn from scriptures will demonstrate this quite directly.

A person in authority wrongly asserts to a believer that The Bible in Leviticus admonishes that "neither a borrower nor a lender be, for loan oft loses both itself and friend." When a believer inquiries about the chapter and verse, the authority advises that Leviticus 7:1 be consulted. When the believer turns to Leviticus 7:1, no such wording is found. In fact, the believer later discovers that the quotation is not from The Bible at all; instead, it is from Shakespeare. Another authority rightly claims to a believer that The Holy Quran does not accept the Trinitarian notion of God. The believer asks for proof of this. The authority refers the believer to Sura 5.73 which says "They surely lie (against Allah, those) who say, 'Allah is one of three in a Trinity. ...'" Asking for scriptural support, the believer receives it, thereby thwarting a fruitless polemic stemming from an intensional orientation.

Illustration 4: Films provide opportunities to see an extensional orientation discipline in action. Several cinematic endorsements of extensionality will serve to elucidate the praise extensionality receives in movies, conspicuously or subtly. In Castle Keep (1969) directed by Sidney Pollack, Major Falconer, played by Burt Lancaster, notes that the watch guard on duty is a dreamer and subsequently not trustworthy to see an enemy that might be approaching. The guard did not demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the Major, an extensional orientation or discipline to remain mindful of the world before him. His intensional musings could put others in the castle at risk.

In the television series Law and Order, a dramatic norm is portrayed in which detectives ask suspects questions about their whereabouts at the time a crime was committed. The detectives record the statement from the suspects and then venture to confirm the accuracy of their accounts. Jerry Orbach (Wikipedia) played detective Lennie Briscoe. In this role with flare and wit, he served as the extensionalist. When the stories of the suspects checked out, Detective Briscoe would clear them. When the stories were not verified, Briscoe would arrest them. Proof was required. Contradiction between what the suspects said and what panned out in the investigation involving observation and verification served as the extensional ground for Briscoe's judgment and action. While TV Guide named Briscoe as one of TV's 50 top detectives, the Institute of General Semantics might justly nominate him as the top detective in TV police drama with an extensional orientation discipline, perhaps only to be outranked in fiction by Sherlock Holmes; for through his authority, he resolves the conflict between what is declared and what is validated by observation.

Illustration 5: The final instance to be explained pertains to the rhetoric of politicians running for office in the United States for the November 2010 elections. Frith and Mueller (2010) serve as the harbingers of political problems in the rhetorical campaigns of November 2010 elections. They assert that since there is a "general hostility of international law to prior censorship of any kind," a strong bias exists "against attempts to control the content of political advertising in many countries"--especially in the United States--because "political speech is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution." This means that "under existing laws, control of the content of political advertisements would be considered a curtailment of freedom of expression." Frith and Mueller (2010) explain that critics see the complete lack of regulation of political advertising results in "campaigns that are deceptive, misleading, or at the very least in bad taste" (pp. 58-59).

CNN and other TV stations try to resolve conflicts by countering the ungrounded statements with fact-finding missions intended to keep users of the mass media channels honest. Republicans and Democrats have recently been asked to account for their lack of transparency and truthfulness. Members of one party have quoted members of the other party out of context and cast false light on their records and actions. Assertions of fact abound but investigations show many of the statement to be unsubstantiated or false. Professionals with an extensional orientation and discipline have the challenge of correcting the falsehoods and half-truths of the utterances that voters must endure from the candidates. Individuals choosing to listen to the campaigners must give the candidates the extensionalization test to determine who is saying what and what can be determined to be grounded in verified and verifiable fact. Extensionality may not be sufficient to accomplish this horrendous task, but it is certainly one means of clearing the rhetorical debris of misinformation.


This paper has attempted to advance the Olympian goals of Citius, Altius, and Fortius with respect to the extensional orientation. It has striven to demonstrate that the extensional orientation of general semantics is a discipline that crosses disciplines and provides a language with which to accomplish this end. The interest has been minimally to begin construction, in a transparent and accountable manner, on an improvement project for the extensional orientation--one that can be implemented faster at a higher standard with enhanced strength. Extensionality as explained by general semanticists in the past and present has been visited. Suggestions for future directions have been propounded and intimidated. Illustrations of extensionality in action have been provided. The final thought to be stressed is that the extensional orientation might be reconfigured with pragmatic and eclectic benefits as an extensional orientation discipline. The stress of deliberate human action leading to purposeful and productive goals can then become manifest. In the sermonic language of Richard Weaver (1970), the best close may very well be one of conviction--"amen."


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Richard Fiordo serves as a professor of communication at the University of North Dakota. He received his BA in English from Northern Illinois University, MA in Speech from San Francisco State College, and PhD in Speech Communication from the University of Illinois-Urbana. He studied general semantics with S. I. Hayakawa and Richard Dettering at San Francisco State College. A recently published text by him entitled Arguing in a Loud Whisper: A Civil Approach to Dispute Resolution has part of its foundation in general semantics. In higher education in the United States and Canada, he has taught communication courses, published research in communication studies, and served in administration. Contact:

An earlier version of this paper was presented in October 2010 at the annual conference for the Institute for General Semantics in New York City.
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