This fundamental characteristic of the human languages was revealed by Korzybski. Terms like "yes", "no ", "true ", "false", "cause", "effect", "relation" "order", "structure", "existence", etc., can be used in a proposition but also in a proposition about the first, etc. Thus, they can apply to all orders of abstractions. They can have several meanings at each of these levels, with the specific meaning given only by context and order of abstractions used.
Let's give an example, with using the word "existence":

  1. I postulate the existence, outside of my skin, of a set of atoms, molecules, etc.,
  2. this set, interacting with my organism, gives existence to something which I see, touch, hears, etc.,
  3. this something then gives existence to the word "chair" (this chair which I see) that I write, pronounce, etc.,
  4. this word, applied to other items, will give existence to "the chair, flat surface supported by four legs".
As we can see on this simple example, the word "existence" does not have at always the same meaning depending of the level used, and it is not possible to give it a meaning if we don't know at what order of abstractions it is used. That means that our theoretically limited vocabulary becomes practically unlimited, because of this fact.
The multiordinality of the main terms of our languages is related to self-reflexiveness.
In general semantics "multiordinal" is shortened in m.o.
© ESGS, 2001.