The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

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OGDEN AND RICHARDS                          47
moon, we can tell its position in relation to the sun. See, it's full moon nowifs directly opposite the sun. See those mountains and craters and valleys ... etc.
Joe is now referring his symbolized thoughts to the object, moon.
You can see, of course, that when I ask you What do you mean? you can't really know:
(1)  If I am confused about the definitions of your words;
(2)  If I am wondering what's going on inside your head; or,
(3)  If I want to know what your words refer to out there in the world.
The best thing you can do, under these circumstances, is to ask this question What don't you understand? This should help clear up the area in which the confusion exists. If you are using technical language in a field in which I have no competence, I might reply Your words confuse me. Will you define them, please? Or, if your statements seem to me to be disconnected, or unrelated, or inconsistent, I might say I don't follow your thoughts. Start over again. Or, if you are talking about something altogether outside my experience, I might say I never heard of that thing. What is it? Where is it? Show me.
When we are confused, we rarely penetrate to the area of our confusion. And this does not help matters. Ogden and Richards made a great advance in the field of semantics when they unscrambled the three aspects of meaningwords, thoughts, and thingsin their "triangle" of meaning.