Here we're going to take an opposite view and look at how it's principles can be utilised not to increase the ambiguity of linguistic communication, but rather to reduce ambiguity by increasing specificity and clarity.
Remember I'll be describing as if real something which is actually a theoretical model which, if it were true, would produce the results we observe.
If I were going to communicate something to you linguistically (verbally or, as I'm attempting to do now, in written form) the basis of my communication or Reference Structure would necessarily be my model of the world.
In order that this linguistic communication be efficient and effective the wonderful richness of experience within my model (sights, sounds, smells, thoughts, body sensations etc. etc.) has to be condensed down into a linguistic representation i.e. something which can be expressed using the words of the English language alone.
The output from this first step is a full linguistic representation of what is to be communicated, or what is known in the TG model as a Deep Structure.
Even though the Deep Structure (full linguistic representation) of my communication is but a pale shadow of the richness contained in my world model, it would still be rather cumbersome and inefficient to actually communicate using Deep Structures.
This Deep Structure therefore will be subjected to one or more transformations involving the modelling processes of deletion, distortion and generalisation to produce the more efficient Surface Structure. The Surface Structure is the sequence of words that I'll write or speak, depending on whether we're communicating in written form or verbally and thus will be the only part of my communication which will enter your awareness.
Remember that to me, my compressed, deleted, distorted and generalised communication is still perfectly clear and precise because, of course, I'm in possession of the the entire underlying Reference Structure of my communication in the form of the original world map on which it is based.
You, as the receiver of my communication and without the benefit of my world map, now have the task of understanding that communication using your own unique map of the world. This requires the reversal of the process so far i.e. that you, at the unconscious level:-
- Take my Surface Structure and apply some meaning to the individual words from your model of the world
- Identify the most likely Deep Structure on which my Surface Structure is based so that you have the framework of a possible full linguistic representation of my communication
- Apply meaning to the overall Deep Structure from your model of the world
At this stage you, as a native speaker of English, will be intuitively aware as to whether or not the Surface Structure I've chosen* to use is complete enough to allow you to fully understand my communication. If my Surface Structure is not complete enough you will also have in your intuition which parts of the Deep Structure have been deleted, distorted or generalised.
(* I use the word chosen here loosely as with spoken communication the process of word selection is itself largely an unconscious process. If you've ever had to bring this process into conscious awareness i.e. actively / carefully think about the particular words you're going to use you will probably have noticed how much more slowly you had to speak / write.)
Should you then wish to understand my communication more fully your intuitions will facilitate you in forming responses, usually in the form of a questions in order to recover the deleted information.
In summary then, after a brief pause for breath...
When we communicate with each other using natural language we usually do so in a 'short-hand' form for efficiency. This in turn often requires that we ask pertinent questions in order to fully understand what the other person is communicating to us.
The question is, what types of questions are the best types of questions to ask to gain clarity, specificity and understanding of another person's communication? The answer is, of course, meta model questions which you'll find on the next few pages.
(If you would like to know more about the process of derivation from Deep Structure to Surface Structure there's further explanation on this page in the hypnotic language section. I would also recommend that you get your hands on a copy of The Structure of Magic I)