Lies, truth, and meaning

Words have meaning. We use them to communicate to one another, and what we communicate depends, in part, on which words we use. What words mean varies from language to language. In many cases, we
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Words have meaning. We use them to communicate to one another, and what we communicate depends, in part, on which words we use. What words mean varies from language to language. In many cases, we can communicate the same thing in different languages, but require different words to do so. And conversely, sometimes the very same words communicate different things in different languages. In Estonian, I am told, a zealous germophobe would enjoin us to join her in cleaning the rooms by saying ‘Koristame ruumit!’ But she should take care in expressing this enthusiasm in Finland, for in Finnish this very same sentence means ‘let’s decorate the corpses!’. One of the most important consequences of differences in meaning, is a difference in truth. It is because ‘tall’ and ‘friendly’ mean different things, that what we say with the sentence ‘Maria is tall’ can be true even though what we say with the sentence ‘Maria is friendly’ is not, or conversely. If we know when what we say with a sentence. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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