NSPIC - Words and Meanings

Freespeak (f-prime@activist.com)
Tue, 23 Sep 1997 21:26:06 -0700


I appreciate all the time you've spent on this so far.
It's already been of considerable benefit to me.

Firstly, as a result of discussing E-Prime with you,
I got the idea of "F-Prime" which basically consists
of English minus Slavespeak. This could turn out to
be a major step in my forward motion.

Secondly, I decided to convert about a third of 'Anatomy
of Slavespeak' into E-Prime as an exercise. For about 12
years I've operated on the basis that "words don't have
meanings; people have meanings for words." But I was never
quite satisfied with my reasoning and formulations on the

On applying E-Prime to this area, it was as if I was driven
deeper into my mind. I was pleasantly surprised by my new

>Words Don't Have Meanings; People Have Meanings
>Many people suffer from the basic linguistic illusion that "words have
>If a word has a meaning, where do you find it? Can it be found in the
sound when
>you say it? Can you find it in the ink when you write it? Can you find
it in
>the dictionary, or does the dictionary contain only words? What
>or distinguishes a meaning and how can you recognize it?
>Consider the possibility that:
>1. Meanings reside in the individual brain;
>2. Individuals create, maintain and update their meanings;
>3. Meanings consist of a "neural-patterns-of-instructions-and-associations";
>4. A "neural-pattern-of-instructions-and-associations" can be compared to a
>computer program that essentially tells the user how to use a particular
>5. In order for an individual to use a word in a manner such that he or she
>can think and communicate effectively, using that word, requires a brain
>vastly more complex, than the "brief-user-instructions" in the dictionary;
>6. Even if you claim that the "brief-user-instructions" constitute the
>of a word, an individual couldn't use that word effectively without
>at least the meanings of all the words used in the "brief-user-instructions";
>7. In order to use a word effectively, the "brief-user-instructions" have
to be
>"enriched" a thousand-fold, maybe a million-fold;
>8. Operating on the basis that you personally create all the meaning in "your
>universe" greatly increases your control over your mental processes, enabling
>you to think, communicate, and act much more effectively.
>Corresponding to the word "chair" I have in my brain a generalized picture
>or template of a range of kinds of objects that qualify as chairs. This
>part of my meaning for the word "chair." I also have links to other patterns
>and memories I relate to "chair." All of this complexity constitutes my
>for the word "chair" -- a meaning unique to me and vastly greater and more
>complex than any "meaning" to be found in a dictionary -- yet similar to the
>meanings others have for the word "chair." My meaning (brain-program) for
>using the word "chair" includes a module enabling me to determine, when
>others use the word "chair," whether they use it more or less the same way
>I do. (No such "meaning" can be found in the dictionary.)
>We can communicate because (we have to assume that) when I say "chair," you
>trigger, engage, or "boot up" in your brain a meaning similar to mine.
>observing responses to communication we discern whether or not we refer
the same
>object when we say "chair."
>Most importantly, we individually create, maintain, and update our personal
>meanings. Over time, we can improve our ability to use any particular word
>more effectively. We can learn vastly more about any given word than can be
>found in the dictionary. For example, I utilized a variant of English called
>E-Prime to write the portion of this report dealing with GS. E-Prime does
>contain the verb "to be" or any of its variants; otherwise E-Prime mirrors
>standard English. (You'll find the reasons for writing this way, below.)
>You'll also find below, that my meaning for "to be" and its forms varies
>dramatically from any "meaning" you can find in a regular dictionary.
>Now, what if our meanings constitute our most important creations by a
long shot?
>If so, to what extent do we render ourselves oblivious of our most important
>creations? Can we create anything physical, without first creating it
>in a form that includes meaning?
>If we render ourselves relatively oblivious of creating our meanings, how do
>we affect our awareness of our physical creations and how much control do we
>have? How much responsibility can we demonstrate?
>If we ascribe the creation of our meanings to agencies outside ourselves
>("words have meanings"), do we perhaps disown a most important part of
>ourselves? Do we perform most of our "meaning-processing" more or less
I've already benefited greatly from this debate,
partcularly my association with you.

Thank you,

Frederick Mann

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