Viking, A sentence expresses a more or less complete propositional content, which is semantic meaning, and extra pragmatic meaning comes from a particular context in which the sentence is uttered. John Benjamins, Share Flipboard Email. Richard Nordquist is a freelance writer and former professor of English and Rhetoric who wrote college-level Grammar and Composition textbooks. Updated August 02, Here are more examples of meaning from other writers on the subject:.
Pronunciation: ME-ning. From the Old English, "to tell of". The people demanded of Antiphon the meaning of these visions. When I asked the meaning of this, they showed me a triangle.
Meaning | Definition of Meaning by Merriam-Webster
She was afraid that she now understood the meaning of the bill she had received. Studies have established that the connections between things and sounds are nonarbitrary in many more of these cases than it would seem at first glance. There seem to be universal or near-universal synaesthetic connections between particular shapes and sounds. But, in a certain sense, the objectivity of the connection is beside the point.
Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms
At most, they indicate certain affinities between aspects of things — shape, size, motion — and particular sounds that the human vocal apparatus can produce. Can we describe the depth of a deep thought without drawing in some way on the concept of depth? What is noteworthy here is the human capacity not only to recognise but to produce, transform and extend similarities as a way of communicating meaning.
He suggests that fully developed human language emerges out of more basic imitative practices both in the life of the child and in the evolution of language itself.
in the wake of something
The suggestion that all language is onomatopoeic becomes here not a thesis about any independent relationship obtaining between words and the world, as it was for Cratylus, but one about human creativity and understanding: our ability to produce and see correspondences or, as Benjamin talks about elsewhere, to translate into words the meaning communicated to us through experience.
Words of physical motion and action permeate more complex and abstract operations. In many cases, they are much more than metaphors, since they are indispensable for our very conception of the matters they describe. T his kind of articulation is more familiar in arts like painting and music. Moreover, as they become conventional, both linguistic and musical phrases open up new avenues for variation and combination that enable ever more fine-grained articulation and even the expression of entirely new phenomena and feelings.
There is, of course, something very different about understanding a sentence and understanding a theme in music. Now, imagine a film scene portraying a cheerful family gathering around a sun-soaked table.
Instead of the customary bright melody, the soundtrack is random musical notes. It might convey, instead, that not everything is as it seems with this family. Once we get the messy words out of the way — which might barely have anything to do with the things anyway — then we can contemplate the things abstractly. This ability to put the expressions for things to the side to focus on the things themselves seems integral to the unique relationship we have to the world. They are too close to things, unable to step back and abstract from their concrete appearance.
For the dog, words have meaning the same way that the sound of my car pulling into the driveway has meaning. This might seem self-evident: human beings come along, find the world and its furniture sitting there, and simply start tagging it arbitrarily with signs.
But we forget the role the words played in lifting us into this perspective on things. In other words, what role does the arbitrariness of the word — the fact that we can replace it — play in the constitution of the things as independent objects? And, moreover, how exactly do we get from the kind of immanent engagement with the concrete world that dogs seem unable to tear themselves out of to the position of disengaged spectator naming things willy-nilly? It is a fundamental given and constituent aspect of reality, being itself.
It means itself. Human language begins by naming this always-already meaningful reality, engaging with it by imitating it in onomatopoeia and figurative articulation. But in the Fall, this immanent and expressive meaning — which means in the same way that literally everything else means — is externalised into the human word. As a result of this Fall, we exile ourselves from Eden — immediate engagement with the natural world — and from our own bodies, which we now also experience, to our great shame, as objects.
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For Benjamin, designative language and the world of objects that it brings about are made possible by a kind of forgetfulness. Our language is composed of words that have undergone countless transformations and whose original mimetic connections to reality have been lost.
The immediate meaning of figurative imitations and metaphors dies and detaches from the concrete contexts in which it originally communicated. Language is dead art, still connected to the things but so withered it now appears as only an arbitrary and abstract sign. Words appear to us like a faded landscape painting appears to a half-blind man. He no longer makes out the figure depicted but, remembering what it signifies, he instead takes the shapes as tokens.
Using them, he can now to refer to mountains and streams in the abstract, no longer constrained by the immediacy of the scene, and free to replace the shapes with another expression if he likes. He gains a world only by losing his ability to really see it. Wittgenstein is wary of the very concept of meaning detached from expression, not only in the latter case but also in the case of interchangeable words. Whenever we enquire after the meaning of a word, we never get the thing that is meant — a permanent definition that underlies the word — but only another way of saying it.