October 1, 2012

Words Are Tokens of Symbolism

Reading all three of the passages Im starting to wrap my head around the connection between words and their anti-signification. Or possibility for that matter. In Meaning of Meaning they describe the human urge to communicate between others which is something I can agree with. There is an urge to communicate and that wouldn't exist without symbols. In this case words are those symbols which we utilize to communicate with. The problem is, do words mean anything on their own?

 There is this gut feeling that words have some innate meaning they imply but, in reality they simply don't. The Meaning of Meaning words are stated to have "no meaning on their own" and instead only mean something when taken as a whole in a sentence. Words are combinations of circumstances related to thought, environment and emotional aspects. This reminds me of the same schema we have with Burke. He considered language to be an imperfection based on its roots and vague origins.

Another important aspect was the motive of language. I think Richards and Ogden touch on another imperfection by describing the manipulative function of language in misguiding the speaker. They describe it as the "promotion of purposes". That being said, words really have no significance without certain factors. The argument is when does signification occur, is it in the mind, or through the word.

Reading Rivkin I started to understand the schema of structuralism. One main constant between every theorist so far on the subject of words is the fact that a word is broken down into 2-3 functions including the word as it sounds, its implied meaning, and its literal meaning. All of these can vary of course. Words keep getting recognized as referent. We cannot have intellectual conversation without symbols as reference points to organize our language. Maybe that is the significance of words as a whole, but individually a word has no literal significance.

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