A rose by any other name?

In my daily doings, comings, and goings, I try to read a lot. I try to listen a lot, also, to other people speaking about anything and everything, and I try to use this to make me a better communicator. I read Daily Writing Tips, and I find that on the whole it is a very good resource because it operates on many levels from the most basic of English grammar all the way to advanced semantics. I like it. Today, however, something that I read on there just jolted me. It rubbed me in quite the wrong direction.

Words are labels. They “mean” what we say they mean.

I do not agree. I do not believe that words only mean what we say they mean. It took a long time for me to figure this out from the world around me, but communication does not start and end with the speaker or writer. If anything, the majority of communication happens at the receiving end. Therefore, I am unable to believe that words mean what we or I say they mean. Words, in my humble opinion, mean what the person hearing them or seeing them thinks that they mean, which could vary wildly based on their education, their disposition, or even whether or not they ate breakfast that morning.

Now, If I make up a word tonight, and I never tell another soul what that word is, and I assign a meaning to it, then it means what I say it means. However, as soon as I tell someone else what it means and we use it, it means what we think it means. Then, as more and more people use my word, its meaning will be a little bit different for each situation that it is used and each person who interprets it. That is language. That is why there is more than one definition for so many words.

That is why I love language: because it allows encourages us to fuck it up change it.