Meaning: Thoughts

I don’t have much experience in epistemology so it’s difficult for me to be certain about anything I think about ‘meaning’.
First of all, what is meaning?  An intention: an attitude held toward a proposition? Information? A sense: the intension or extension of a referent? The truth condition?
For the sake of clarity, lets say that meaning is the intention instantiated to a sign or symbol, such as a word or picture. We’ll say this intention is characterized by a purpose.

In the same way a coin losing its embossing due to usage and wear, so too does the meaning of language lose its power and force. Perhaps the repetition of a word can cause it to lose the meaning intended to it upon being coined- it’s original intended meaning- but I would argue that the meaning of any uttered word is ultimately possessed according to the present intentions of the speaker. I want to go so far as to say that a word’s meaning is possessed according to the present shared intentions of a speaker and hearer. If the speaker uses a word but no one else can understand it, can we conclude that the word is meaningless? Only when we extend the principle of rational accommodation can we understand the intention of the speaker. Only when there is a shared intention can we interpret the word and render it meaningful. Donald Davidson said that any partial failure of interpretation can be remedied with the principle of rational accommodation and Tarski’s convention-T to formulate a passing theory of meaning.  If we cannot interpret these noises with a passing theory, there is a total failure of communication and the noises are not translatable and meaningful.  (I have many more thoughts. This is a really challenging topic to think about and consider.)

However, there are social costs for using words outside normative standards and conventional usage. If a speaker uses the word ‘blue’ to refer to an apple instead of using the accepted standard usage of ‘red’, the hearer may be able to interpret what the speaker is saying (e.g. using convention-T: the sentence ‘apple is blue’ is true if and only if ‘apple is red’) but not without a certain social costs, e.g. credibility, intelligence, etc.

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