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Posted by Don Jarvis on April 30, 2003 21:55:43 UTC

It's possible you are perceiving more essence to the question than exists. I believe you are lumping two types of meaning and ignoring the vagueness inherent in language use. Assume language is an attempt to classify a more or less shared approximate universe in which there are not always clear distinctions between groups of similar individuals. For convenience in dealing with such a multitude, arbitrary distinctions are accepted to set off arbitrary classes. The distinctions are the defining attributes of a class. Words are created to represent the arbitrary classes. The lexical meaning of a word is the set of attributes that define the class. The pragmatic meaning of a word or phrase depends on how the word or phrase is used and the intent of the user and is not generally available absent the user. A linguistic approach to your question would be to compare the attribute sets of electron and volkswagen. A pragmatic approach would be to demonstrate the difference by juxtaposing an entity from each class.

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