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Presuppositions In Language

These are the very glue of existence, as represented through linguistics. There are certain words that literally link reality together, to make it make sense. These presuppositions create, destroy and assume our imagined view of life. They are so engrained that we do not even know they exist for the most part. These are not the presuppositions in NLP, which are different.

As an NLP Practitioner, we are looking for the model of the world your client is creating. And they do so by an almost esoteric art of combining words to create worlds. A world is an extension of a word. In the beginning was the word. Genesis.

Yet in our development as language beings, we have to re-find the knowledge and wisdom of our unique utterances and creative drawing and writings. The nlp presuppositions in language go some way to re-membering and distinguishing these creative linguistic properties that we have inherited.

Every time you and I open our mouths we assuming, creating, designing our worlds. We are never simply describing the outside world. Because we delete distort and generalise everything (see The Human Communication Model), all our linguistics are actually simply presuppositions. A creation in words.

The job you have as an excellent communicator, is to be able to distinguish these worlds, and the language that has been used to create them. Although we say only 7% of effective communication are the words, some of these words (and the way they are put together) are the (mostly unconscious) glue of creation.

There are nine presuppositions in language

1.  Existence – (Tip-off: Anything that implies something actually exists)

2.  Possibility/Necessity – (Tip-off: Modal Operators)

3.  Cause – Effect – (Tip-off: “Makes”, “If…  then”)

4.  Complex Equivalence – (Tip-off: “Is,” “Means” )

5.  Awareness – (Tip-off: Verbs with V, A, K, 0, G)

6.  Time – (Tip-off: Verb Tense, “Stop”, “Now”, “Yet”)

7.  Adverb/Adjective — (Tip-off: An adverb or adjective)

8.  Exclusive/Inclusive OR – (Tip-off: “Or”)

9.   Ordinal – (Tip-off: A List)

In the following sentences, please distinguish between the presupposition and the mind read.  Put a ‘P’ or an ‘MR’ next to each one:

  1. “I’m not sure whether or not I should stop beating my wife.”

……….. A.        He has a wife

……….. B.         He loves his wife

……….. C.        He currently beats his wife (at what)

……….. D.        He’s a not friendly person

  • “I don’t see why I can’t do it.  All my friends are doing it!”

……….. A.        He feels that he is treated unfairly

……….. B.         He wants to be liked by his friends

……….. C.        This person’s friends do something he doesn’t do

……….. D.        All his friends are from Ireland

  • “If I don’t learn how to communicate with my boss, I won’t get a raise.”

……….. A.        He feels that he is treated unfairly

……….. B.         He doesn’t know how to communicate with his boss

……….. C.        He wants to learn new behaviours

……….. D.        His salary is connected to his communication skills

  • “I have to set up unrealistic expectations.”

……….. A.        He can’t stop making unrealistic expectations

……….. B.         He feels trapped

……….. C.        He has expectations

……….. D.        He knows when he is being unrealistic

  • “I’m feeling much better now!   I can see how some of the things I was doing just made me unhappy.”

……….. A.    Some behaviour he engaged in was related to some internal state

……….. B.         He has feelings

……….. C.        He has much more control of his life now

……….. D.        He fixed himself so he should get a certificate

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