October 1, 2012

Popularity contests?

            One thing that always comes up when we deal with the term "meaning" is how it changes or reacts to changes and contexts. In the Rivkin and Ryan Background they discuss this a little when talking about Foucault, " Foucault notices that what counts as knowledge changes with time, and with each change, the place of language in knowledge is also modified" (Rvkin&Ryan, 54). The main idea behind all of these texts on meaning seems to be that not only is meaning contextual but the terms that are being used are usually the most popular and widely recognized terms of times. Richards and Ogden discussed this as well but called it a "naive theory that 'meaning' is just 'meaning' to be popular at the moment" (Richards and Ogden, 1275) We talked about this when we discussed Locke as well. The term "Hot" and how it could mean that someone has a temperature to someone who is attractive. The term has changed based on the period in which we live because, now, if I hear someone say "She looks hot" or "He looks hot" my mind automatically begins to think that they are talking about the person being attractive. But in say, in the 1800's it would have meant that they had a temperature or might have been ill.

         This could also be dealt with by Locke's and now Richards theories of association. With Locke we discussed how words were signs and how their association to ideas doesn't naturally occur but needs common naming or experiences that will lead to understanding or misunderstanding the term. With Richards he believed that the "definition of context as a set of associations clinging to a word through experience" (Richards and Ogden, 1272) Personally, I agree with the notion that we have all these associations to words and most of the time we don't even have to think about how we got them or why they are the ones we come up with first. With all the technology we are exposed to on a day to day basis in the 21st century one would never really know where our associations have come from because it could have been from a number of things. The internet alone gives me so many different ideas when it comes to where I could have taken associations just from different websites I visit daily. I'm not sure if when these articles were written that technology was as big as it is now but if we explored these ideas today in terms of the technolgies we're associated with what do you think we would find?

1 comment:

Ashley Nugent said...

I like where you are going with this! This is a great proposal, and it makes me ask myself a few questions. I wonder if these theories about word relativity and contextual meaning are too outdated for us now? How does having the internet change all this? You do touch base on this, but it would be interesting to have a theorists write on this subject.

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