The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

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OGDEN AND RICHARDS                          53
sonal life is at the center of the process. Each one of us has lived a lifetime with his words. For us, words are meaningful only as they relate to our own lives. There is no other way.
Therefore:
The meaning of wordsas we read and write and speak and listenis filtered through and through by the personal experience of the user. For this reason, the meaning of a word is (at least slightly) different for each user.
If a speaker uses the word "labor" when he addresses a group of businessmen and workers without specifying precisely what he is referring to, there may be as many "thinkings-of' labor as there are listeners. Each one will be preoccupied with his own experience, his own thoughts, his own problems. One listener may refer the word to his own job; another, to union squabbles; another, to a strike in a steel mill; another, to a union local; another, to a particular job at a particular time and a particular place, etc. The word is the same but the "thinkings-of" are different!
We forget that words mean different things to different people and we hardly clarify meanings, even for ourselves.
A human being with his unique past, present, and future is at the center of the communication process.
The meaning of a word is at least slightly different for each user.
The obligation of the user of words is to know just what his words refer to out there in the world.
The obligation of each participant is to attempt to discover what the key words of a user refer to.
Communication takes place only when the words of a user refer the thoughts of all participants to the same objects.