The Creation of Meaning. What is Meaning?

Essay by DPLA+, March 2003

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What is meaning? Meaning is what we understand from what see or hear, the meaning of a statement can be different from person to person, it depends on the individual's interpretation. Sometimes, the meaning of a statement may be unclear to an individual, prompting the question,"What do you mean?" asking for clarification of the meaning of the original statement.

Sometimes we do not understand something because it is on a particular subject, using subject related lexis, which requires "insider knowledge" to unlock the meaning. This can also happen when, for example, we enter into the middle of a conversation, therefore not knowing what the initial topic of conversation was and thus not immediately understanding what is being discussed.

The sense and meaning of a word or phrase can be interpreted in different ways. This is due to factors such as, confusion of sense because of sound, abstract words and phrases, synonyms, homonyms, polysemy and figurative extensions of sense.

Some words may have two or three meanings depending on the context in which the word is used.

Sense and meaning can also be affected by how precise the original statement is. There is many ways in which the sense can be rather vague, perhaps because of the lack of specifying details, relationships, alternative possibilities, and variation according to context.

In both written and spoken language, sense and meaning are subject to the effects of different contexts, the audience, the purpose, and perhaps more exclusively in the case of sense and meaning, the person who presents the original statement.

The sense of a statement can also be affected by the structure of the overall phrase. For example:

"The car ran over the dog."

Which, after changing the structure of the sentence...

"The car ran the dog over."

...alters the sense and meaning...