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Tue Jun 19, 2012, 02:59 AM

Linguistic Paradox

One linguist says, "Words mean whatever people think they mean."

The other linguist says, "No, words mean what a contemporary dictionary says they mean. There is such a thing as the correct meaning of a word."

The first linguist says, "No, how ordinary people use a word must be the real test of correctness."

The second linguist says, "Okay. Let's find the most ordinary person we can find and ask him to define a word." So they find the guy who is in the Guinness Book of World Records as "world's most ordinary person."

The second linguist asks the ordinary man, "Define "dictionary.""

The ordinary man says, "A book that tells you the correct spelling and definition of words."

__________

An observation from one of Pinker's books, dressed up here as a very dry joke.

5 replies, 1287 views

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Arrow 5 replies Author Time Post
Reply Linguistic Paradox (Original post)
cthulu2016 Jun 2012 OP
dougolat Jun 2012 #1
Scootaloo Jun 2012 #2
SnohoDem Jun 2012 #3
unc70 Jun 2012 #4
Sans__Culottes Jun 2012 #5

Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 03:09 AM

1. How many linguists can dance on a pinhead?

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Response to dougolat (Reply #1)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 04:10 AM

2. Depends...

Is Tucker Carlson standing or prone? If he's prone, I'll bet you could fit at least three on him.

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Response to Scootaloo (Reply #2)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 04:19 AM

3. DUZY Candidate

Can't find the "I just spit coke all over my keyboard" smiley, so I guess I'll have a beer.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 04:31 AM

4. This could make a psycholinguist crazy

N/T

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 08:09 AM

5. Language evolves.

 

It evolves through common usage.

A dictionary in 1940 would not have included an optional usage for the word "cool" to mean "fashionable, hip".

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