The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

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144                 THE HUMANITY OF WORDS
of a mile. I assembled three little girls and all the things they like to cart, from dolls to dogs, and started walking. When I came to the edge of the park, and no zoo, I realized that I had been subjected to a semantic hoaxdesignators that did not denote.
The insidious thing about this is that the signs sound like designators that denote. Notice the language: Right down this pathabout a quarter of a mile. This is straightforward designative language. And that's the reason it works! When we listen and when we read, we forget that some designators denotethat others do not denote. Here is a criterion by wThich to evaluate statements that sound like propaganda.
Morris distinguishes, also, between the truth and the reliability of signs. A true signa designator that denotes may not be a reliable sign! The reliability of a sign is proportionate to the frequency of denotation, as the little boy who cried "Wolf!" learned to his sorrow. When the newscaster says Rain tomorrow if we have listened to weather forecasts consistently we can make a quantitative judgment concerning the probable reliability of the signs. Liars who speak the truth are rarely believed. This is a quantitative judgment, and a wise one on semantic grounds. Again, this Is a criterion by which to evaluate statements that sound like propaganda.
It need hardly be mentioned that signs which denote with consistency are the most reliable signs available. These are the signs which we find in our scientific works.
Morris makes another point about the reliability of informative signs in connection with the Isolated sign. Again, this corroborates a statement made by Ogden and Richards.