What differs us (humans) from animals? Well, you might be tempted to say "our intelligence". But what is intelligence if not just a series/connection of thoughts? But if you ever had a pet or spent some time observing animals, maybe in the zoo or wherever, you've probably noticed that animals **do** in fact think (and thus have thoughts). They are even able to connect them, at least to some degree. (I can report myself that one of my two cats - she unfortunately passed away recently - was **way** smarter than the other one. So there are quite massive differences between animals even of the same species...) Apparently it's the **complexity** of the thoughts that matters. But how does a brain learn to process "complex thoughts"? Well, if I had to draw the layout of a thought (very technical and very wrong), it would probably look something like this: ************************************************************** * * .-------. .--------. * / Input / <--- Interfaces ---> / Output / * '---+---' '----+---' * | ^ * | .---------. | * '--------->| Storage +----------' * '-+-+-+-+-' * | | | | * .-----+-+-+-+-----. * | Internal Wiring | * '-----------------' * ************************************************************** [Figure [thought]: Layout model of a thought as I would draw it offhand.] Of course, there are so many things wrong with this from a biological standpoint that I wouldn't even know where to start... but that's besides my point here. I would draw a thought like above to point out a certain property: Thoughts (that are "stored" in your head) are specifically encoded to the nerve-structure of the brain they are contained in. They are literally "encoded" onto the connections between neurons in a biochemical way. This means, in other words, that the same "thought" has a completely different physical appearance in different brains. This already applies to simple thoughts (_I'm hungry_), but also to rather complex ones (_I should take an umbrella with me because it might rain tomorrow_). Yeah, good luck [Neuralink](https://neuralink.com/) with that... Now, imagine this from a completely technological point of view: You have two systems with completely different internal workings. But you want to exchange some piece of information between them. How would you do that? The answer is [Serialization](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serialization), which is the process of reshaping the data into some form of intermediate representation that can later be transformed back (deserialized) by the other system. In this **serialized** form the data can be transmitted, stored or distributed in any way, and any receiver of that data can later recreate the actual piece of information if he/she/it knows how to deserialize it. Or in the context of thoughts: - Thoughts can be serialized. We call this **expression**. - Thoughts can be deserialized. We could call this Impression, but most people simply refer to it as **understanding**. Expression needs a language. That doesn't necessarily have to be a spoken or written language. In fact, I would argue that **body language** is the most universally **understood** language on the world. And the result of billions of years of evolution. Since language is the intermediate representation carrying our thoughts, it should seem quite obvious that the more complex the thoughts become, the more advanced of a language you need. So the complexity of modern languages surely was created by having a long coevolution with the increasing complexity of human thoughts. Well, it seems at least somewhat likely that the language we learn first - our mother language - shapes the way how we **understand** things and **express** ourselves. But at that point we start drifting towards the topic of *culture*, and that's definitely out of the scope of this blog post. What I actually wanted to point out in this blog post is the fact, that even in modern languages, I **do** have the wish to change something for the better from time to time. Just a slight little change that would allow us to better express a specific thought. (#) The concept of and, or and and/or Let's say you've got two elements, or subjects, or objects, or logical parts, or whatever - I'm not a linguist guys. I will just call these two things **partials**, because the appear in my sentence as logical part A and logical part B. I can then say something that refers to these partials in some way. Which way? Depends on the type of partial. But still, I somehow refer to them. There are four possible ways how I can refer to A and B: 1. I don't refer to either of them. In this case, we simply don't have a sentence. Just silence. 2. I want to refer to A, or I want to refer to B. In this case, I will simply leave out the partial I'm not refering to. So my sentence will include A if I want to refer to A, and it will include B if I refer to B. (_I cooked spaghetti for Alice_) or (_I cooked spaghetti for Bob_) 3. I want to refer to A and B. (_I cooked spaghetti for Alice **and** Bob_) 4. I want to refer to either A or B. (_I cooked spaghetti for Alice **or** Bob_) But wait! As it turns out, logically you **can** have a case where 3 and 4 are both true at the same time! So there's a fifth case: 5. I want to refer to A and B, and/or to A or B. (_I cooked spaghetti for Alice **and/or** Bob_) Why you might want to do that? Well, let's take our spaghetti example. In case 3 you probably expected that Alice and Bob would both be there for dinner (maybe you invited them), so you simply cooked enough for both of them. In case 4, you've got a call from your wife, that one of her friends is going to join you for dinner tonight. You know it's either gonna be Alice or Bob, so you cook a little bit more for an additional person. And then finally, there is case 5: Your wife tells you she invited Alice and Bob for dinner tonight. But you remember one of your wife's many friends doesn't eat wheat products. It won't be a problem though, since there's still some leftover rice. But if your wife asks if you've taken the guests into account, you might just answer "yes, I cooked spaghetti for Alice and/or Bob". Which brings me back to my initial question: Why don't we have a word for and/or?