The Delta Factor[edit | edit source]
In relation to the subtitle How Queer Man Is, How Queer Language is, and What One Has to Do with the Other of The Message in the Bottle (1975), Walker Percy, to begin with, regrets that the vital question of how language really works or how people really communicate by presenting and understanding symbols in language, is not properly viewed and studied by existing researchers. For him, they are mostly split between linguistics and psychology, in spite of psycholinguistics.
In this regard, Percy tries to base his integral theory of language on what he calls the Delta Factor, which looks like a parody or conceptual metaphor (1980) of the "triangle of reference" Ogden and Richards have made so popular since 1923. “The Delta Factor” is the first, so-called flagship article of the book.
Meanwhile, Percy derives the Delta Factor from the exciting moment of Helen Keller’s beginning to communicate meaningfully at last by forming such a marvelous idea in mind, say, WATER that integrates itself with the spelling w-a-t-e-r on the one hand and the flowing water on the other, resulting in a triadic whole he sees “absolutely irreducible.”
Percy holds that the Delta Factor is the building block for all human intelligence, and that the significance of all the three separate corners is enhanced by their being connected and integrated into the Delta Factor as a whole.
- The bracketed are mine.