Two economics students are attempting to describe a concept of language, but do not know of any formally-recognized terms or research that explain this concept.
They believe there is an underlying "law" that dictates and allows a researcher to predict what someone is going to say (or extremely unlikely to say) before they say it.
Trevor Handy Sowens and an associate were discussing a concept that Trevor has labelled
The law of Symbolic Leverage, and Trevor no longer wishes to use his own custom term-of-art to describe this concept.
Trevor has noted that there is an innate behavioral trait in the way people communicate ideas. He discussed it with a close associate and the associate agrees.
The behavioral trait goes like this:
- 1) Suppose Alice has eaten five apples over the course of one day
- 2) Bob asks Alice to describe what she has eaten, not knowing anything about Alice's day
3) It is reasonable to expect Alice to say:
Today I ate five apples.
4) However, it is not reasonable to expect Alice to say:
Today I ate an apple, and then I ate an apple, and then I ate an apple, and then I ate an apple, and then I ate an apple.
- 4a) The only circumstance to expect Alice to say 4) instead of 3) would be if Alice has some ulterior gain that can be realized if she uses the longer-form expression (e.g., Alice is working on a job where she gets paid more money if she spends more time talking. She gets paid per-word spoken per-day.)
- 5) Trevor refers to the above circumstance as
The law of Symbolic Leverage... which states that people will use the least amount of symbols necessary to communicate some idea, unless the use of the symbols themselves carries an ulterior purpose, above and beyond simple communication.
- can this hypothesis of Trevor be substantiated or repudiated, according to the knowledge of a trained Linguist?
- what preexisting prior term of art or concept would a linguist use to describe this observation made by Trevor?