Language and information

Lecture 3: Information

3.3. Grammatical meanings

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So much for the meaning of words. There is one other meaning in language, and that is grammatical meanings. There are certain specific meanings—very, very few, actually—which are formed by the act of combination, by the act of dependence itself, or the act forming of combinations, of bringing words together, and which is added to the meaning of the combination over and above the meanings of the participating words. The most obvious one is of course the meaning of the partial ordering—the fact that certain words depend on other words, they will not occur without the occurrence of the other words—and the meaning is obviously that the dependent word is about its arguments, the operator is being said about its arguments. We'll come back to that a bit tomorrow.

The likelihood differences of course also impose the capacity—they don't give you the individual meaning of a word, they impose the capacity of a word to have other meanings, various meanings. And there are certain others which I won't go into at the moment, like the meaning of being a modifier, which as I said is created by some arrangement of some already existing two sentences, one of which interrupts the other, and so on.