Re: Meaning

Matthew Hill (mhhill@WATARTS.UWATERLOO.CA)
Fri, 5 Apr 1996 08:42:51 -0500

We may be arguing past each other, but I think that what you are labeling
meaning I would label something like 'responses elicited'. Meaning I would
put in a black box behind them. Whether the box is empty or not (or
whether if not empty it contains only a larger black box) is
an interesting question. Whether any two boxes contain the same thing
is equally interesting but in principle unanswerable. Once you open them the
contents are transmuted.

Matthew Hill

On Thu, 4 Apr 1996, Ronald Kephart wrote:

> 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