October 1, 2012

Will every term always be contextually shaped?

Although, Richards & Ogden “From the Meaning of Meaning” is at sometimes hard to follow I took away an interesting aspect on how our statements are shaped. The idea that words “mean” nothing by themselves is completely clear but, the reason they are shaped is not so transparent.

Others have posted on how our culture shapes the way a statement or words are thought about and molded. Yet, I wonder if there are disconnects. The simple fact that the way others perceive words and symbols differently will always lead to the inherent issue that there will never be a universal language, deriving my questions. When a “thinker” makes use of words he is deciphering with a previously built upon knowledge, (however right or wrong), how he, more or less interprets, meaning.

This contextual shaping is furthered by Lakoff and Johnson’s “From Metaphors We Live By” which I believe works as a great hand and hand tool with Richards and Ogden’s “From the Meaning of Meaning.” As I understand the phrase, “when we speak, the symbolism we employ is caused partly by the reference we are making and partly by social and psychological factors,” I don’t quite understand the meaning behind the meaning. Words will be constantly shaped due to cultural changes and we will never come up with an accepted explanation for everyone’s thoughts and expressions. So I ask this question, will we ever know the meaning behind the meaning? Or will we be constantly adapting our perceived knowledge through experience, until the end of time?


Cookie said...

We've always been constantly adapting language with experience.. I feel like iit's the only way we can pick up and truly understand language. HOw do we know what sad, happy, mad is until we go through it ourselves.
It's the same thing with words. We can only be able to grasp a meaning because meaning is always changing.
So when reading how words mean nothing alone that makes complete sense (in a way I guess bc I'm only supposed to be able to grasp it) but how they are formed we can't really question it or I guess we can but we wont get very far.

Jessica Weaver said...

The question you ask is similar to "what came first, the chicken or the egg?/ the idea or the word?" Honestly, we could go one for days about how one came before the other but we might not actually get anywhere. The decisions about the correct answer stems from the experiences we have either with knowlegde or nature. The experiences we have shape who we are and what we believe therefore we may always be arguing over the meaning of meaning simply because meaning is different for everyone! Our throughts and expressions are different based on how we have been molded and how we have chosen to mold ourselves. Since I have started taking this class, I have noticed reasoning is difficult to find when it comes to many of the pieces we discuss therefore I have learned to take a decent amount at face value. Maybe it won't be until we have read every reading that a meaning or a reasoning will be crystal clear? It might just be a puzzle of meaning that as two classes we are slowly trying to piece together.

rachel rivera said...

While I agree with Jessica that this argument is kind of similar to "which came first?", I also think that Cookie is right: we are constantly adapting meanings through experiences. I'm sure that your meaning of certain words have changed as you've grown and encountered it in different ways, changing not only your perception of the word but also how you define the word. You don't think of sex now the way you did when you were ten or thirteen or sixteen; because you've been able to grasp a more distinct or...different interpretation of it, your meaning of the word has changed.

I think it's impossible to say that your grasp of language is not adapting to cultural changes because it just can't be that way; your meaning of words are going to develop and change and evolve over time, whether you'd like to think so or not. Meanings change and you change with them.

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