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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".
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.