Ronald Kephart (rkephart@OSPREY.UNF.EDU)
Thu, 4 Apr 1996 12:02:00 -0500

In message <>
Matthew Hill writes:
> Just to be disputatious, I would suggest that meaning is idiosyncratic
> and thus irrelevant to the anthropological endevour. I know that is not
> spelled right but it looks better than any of the seven alternatives I
> have tried. Culture is shared. There is simply no way of knowing whether
> meanings are.

Of course, there is an idiosyncratic component to meaning. "Dog" does not
"mean" the same thing to Timmy (Lassie) as it does to the folks who encountered
Cujoe. I don't see how it follows from this that meaning is irrelevant to the
anthropological enterprise. As a linguist, I can't analyze language without
finding out something about meaning. Only when I discover that Aymara "utasa"
and "utama" mean different things can I analyze "uta" as 'house' and "-sa" and
"-ma" as suffixes meaning 'ours (yours and mine)' and 'yours (but not mine)'
respectively. Without meaning "utasa" and "utama" are just noise.

Ronald Kephart
Dept of Language & Literature
University of North Florida
Jacksonville, FL USA 32224-2645
Phone: (904) 646-2580