2007/01/02

New Year's Greeting

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you CAN make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master -- that's all.'
Through The Looking-Glass: And What Alice Found There
Lewis Carroll

A word or statement has several meanings:
1. The meaning it had for the writer when he wrote it.
2. The meaning it had for the reader when he read it.
3. The meaning the reader thought it had for the writer when he wrote it.
4. The meaning the writer thought it would have for the reader when he read it.
5. The meaning the reader thought it should have had for the writer if the writer knew what the reader does.
6. The meaning the writer thought it should have for the reader if the reader knew what the writer does.
7. The meaning the reader thought the writer thought it would have for the reader when he read it.
8. The meaning the writer thought the reader thought it would have for the writer when he wrote it.
9. The meaning it has for the reader upon further reflection, perhaps years later.
10. The meaning it has for the writer upon further reflection, perhaps years later.

And then there are the meanings that third parties think the writer and the reader had at various stages in their evolution.

Some people become attached to their favorite meanings, and insist that others use the word to mean the same thing, even when they know they aren't, and won't, or can't.

Makes you wonder why anything thinks communication among human beings is possible, or that they can ever act in concert on anything.

I would wish you a good year, but you might not get my meaning of that, so I will wish you an interesting year. You can take that to mean anything you want.

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