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Posted by Michael W. Pearson on February 18, 2002 17:06:04 UTC

Harv wrote:

>What I am saying is that words acquire meaning >by standardizing definitions based on shared >experiences. Do you disagree?

Please consider that I am not trying to be argumentive...HOW WORDS ACQUIRE MEANING includes what you said, and there are further thresholds to cross in this process. What you have said is like introducing a friend to me by saying
"(she's a member of the phylum Chordata." If you are going to introduce hir at all, much more is expected, even in the most casual situation. The profession of semantics is noble, and excellent books have been written which might sometimes not even mention what you just wrote, because it is the underlying assumption which seems unnecessary to state, and from which, in that level of incompleteness, no further assertions could be made.
In brief, here is what is incomplete about your statement:

>What I am saying is that words acquire meaning >by standardizing definitions based on shared >experiences. Do you disagree?

Depends on whether you use that to coin new words and other words, USE the definition for ANYTHING. Here's what's missing.
Following the word "is" are three verb-type words all driven by one subject: "words." You imply these actions are accomplished by the words themselves. In your statement, no human is responsible; in that statement, no human has authority, and no human lacks authority to make up new words or meanings for themselves without even explaining to others their reasoning. It's like separating from society and forming a new language without printing a dictionary.
In the Declaration of Independence is a phrase something like "a Decent Respect for the Opinions of Mankind Requires that We Explain Our Reasons for the Separation" (that could use some gender updating). Point is, making up new words and meanings certainly is allowed, and when writers do it, they can be pleased if the word or meaning catches on and enteres the dictionary.
They would not generally make up new words or meanings without hope of them someday being added to a dictionary. In your summary, there is no protocol, no quality control, no reference to responsible parties. So it is not a working description of the phenomenon as it truly occurs.

(which you have of course realized but which you did not cite for "peer review" in the post above (so I'm reviewing what you cited...or did you condense your idea too much? It's your own fault if you did, for a proposition must stand or fall as stated. To have the reviewer add necessary parts to flesh out an obvious statement into something more meaningful will only work when talking with me...or maybe there's someone else so verbose) :)

Above, Harv wrote:
I am not giving justification to people to call >people names like you insinuated ("Now, thanks >to Harv, his friends can call anyone 'evil' as >long as they know what they mean. -- that's what you've been saying, Harv"). That's a ridiculous assertion.

Harv, you made that assertion at: when you wrote
My point in the opening thread is not to define >evil, but to say that there is justification for >someone to label someone evil as long as others >understand their meaning.

There is no basic difference between the statement you made and the statement you denied making...I don't think I am distorting your meaning. There is no hair to split between
a water balloon filled with 30 ounces and a water balloon filled with 28 ounces of water. If you throw them, they will seem identical.

Harv wrote:

>"But, I'll tell ya my favorite color if you want to know.

Then, what is your favorite color?

Mike regards,

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