Part 1: Meaning
Chapter One: Delimiting the scope and coping with metalanguage 17
Chapter One Delimiting the scope and coping with metalanguage 1. Meaning, semiotics, semantics, and signs: preliminary description Meaning has attracted the attention of various specialists, such as philosophers, psychologists, and naturally enough linguists. Whatever we do or say may have meaning both for us and for someone else, in some sense of the word ‘mean- ing’. Even when we do something unintentionally, there is always a way to attribute some meaning to what we have done or what happened to us. Suppose, for example, that you accidentally fall over and break your right arm. This sim- ple accident can be interpreted and understood in an unlimited and unpredict- able number of ways, not only by yourself as the direct experiencer of the event but also by all possible witnesses as well as by those who hear about it by means of verbal accounts. For you your fall and the resulting fracture of the arm may mean that you will not be able to do certain things for the next few weeks, that you must be more careful when you walk down the street, that your mother or your wife will be worried, and so on. Also for those who watched the acci- dent it may mean an indefinite number of things, depending on how they inter- pret what they witnessed. Whatever you or anyone else associates with this accident is part of the meaning of what happened. Generally speaking, whatever happened, in this case falling down and breaking an arm,...
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