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Miscommunication, And The Power Of Semantics

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posted on Jan, 3 2015 @ 08:20 AM
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a reply to: ImaFungi

Dunno if in that context if it was used correctly per se, thing is is that what he said had nothing to with semantics and could have been replied to without even mentioning...so why do it? Generally, if it gets to "that's just semantics" there's already been a falling off in the dialogue.




posted on Jan, 3 2015 @ 04:18 PM
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originally posted by: ImaFungi

originally posted by: TheJourney
One thing to keep in mind about language. It is ultimately, totally self-referential. Words are defined by words, and everyone of those words is defined by other words. There's no ultimate foundation, just circular self-referentialism, which exists at such a massive scale that significant meaning can be given to it. So, I would say collective meaning is bit of a misnomer. Dictionaries and the like provide a meeting-place, which keeps all speakers of a language relatively close to one another in understood meaning in most cases. But ultimately, there is no meaning other than the meaning which it has in the mind of every individual. And while those meanings may have an collected representative, it fails to convey true meaning, because the true meaning is in the nuances. And thus listening and reading is a skill as well. Picking up on nuances. And then consciously expressing nuances as well.


You say language is self referential, and while that is true and all your points are important, on must not forget the great and obvious importance of the reality of objects and relations of objects that surround us that our language is predominantly used to describe. So the terms apple and tree are self referential in relation to the meaning of all other words that exist, but the foundation is reality, in that all humans can look at a tree, and the red tasty thing that is an apple, and say, ok everyone this thing is called "apple".


Well, reference to physical objects is a relatively straightforward use of language, with little complications. Although it's been argued that it is our usage of objects as a basis of language which solidifies the apparent existence of concrete objects, as opposed to say processes, in our perception of reality. Regardless, referencing physical objects is only a very shallow portion of our usage of language. Most meaningful use of language is intangible, abstract. But even such words are in general pretty concrete in people's minds. And a vast number of differing conceptions are rigidly held, and we all use the common word which we take to be one concept. But clearly this is not the reality.



posted on Jan, 3 2015 @ 05:21 PM
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originally posted by: gosseyn
a reply to: FyreByrd

Well, there is no collective meaning without personal meaning. What you call collective meaning is like an external hard drive and we exchange with it incessantly, uploading to it and downloading from it. It is the personal experiences of millions and billions of people which form what you call the collective meaning. And dictionaries can't replace experiences because it is the experience that give the meaning : a dictionary can't give the meaning for everything in every context, and it cannot possibly predict the future by telling you that this or that will never be experienced this or that way by anyone.




Your point is eluding me.

No a dictionary cannot replace 'experience' or your personal meaning for any given word.

However, if you goal is to communicate with people (who might not be familair with your 'meanings') you will need to consult a dictionary for the collectively denoted meaning of a word.

If you use words in a manner inconsistant with common usage, you will not be understood. You cannot communicate effectively by using your own definition of words. You can of course, but to little use.

Your experience flavor's how you perceive a word - not how others do. Dictionaries track the collective drift of word usage over time and give us a starting point for conversation.



posted on Jan, 4 2015 @ 02:47 AM
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a reply to: FyreByrd

You are stating the obvious here. I don't think we are talking about the same level of understanding. I am talking about a non-verbal level of meaning with which we all have to deal, which no dictionary can describe and which is formed by our unique experiences.




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