She loves me, she loves me not You just got off the phone with your girlfriend of three years and told her that you loved her and you were on the way to the store, she replied with, “ I’m doing homework at the library, ill see you tonight”. A few minutes later, as your driving through a nearby backstreet you pass a house and see your girlfriend walking out with a man that you have never seen before. What are you to think? What really is the meaning of love? It is just a word? Does it really have a meaning? This was one of the chapters (“The Meaning of Words”) that stood out to me in the book What Does It All Mean by Thomas Nagel.
So what does this word really mean? To me the word means a lot more than just any other word. It is a very strong word and can be used for many things, but I do believe that it needs to be used carefully, because the word often becomes lost in translation. Many people in our current society use the word to describe their feelings for everything such as, I love this show, or I love this shirt. Even if you were to say that you were in love, what does that mean? When people say they are in love they can mean different things, some also over use that word, “ I’m so in love with this store”.
Back to my story in the beginning of the paper, does being in love pose that you trust that person not to cheat, or be sneaky? Maybe she thought that you love her and really care about her but she is allowed to lie and be sneaky, and that is where the word love gets lost in translation. Where is the true meaning and where is the exact definition? The word can be used in a million different ways, and I do not think there is an exact true meaning for the word, I think that every person has a different meaning for it and use it in other ways than the person next to them.
After reading this chapter I realized that words are linked with past experiences and are different for different cultures. Think about slang and how you and your group of friends comes up with words that means different things, such as the word “dog” referring to your good friend or “baby” referring to your girlfriend. None of those words have anything to do with describing the things that were being labeled. Why would dog mean friend, or baby mean girlfriend? That proves the point exactly, what do words mean and why do people use them.
This opens up an entire new world of language interpretation. Some things sound different to different cultures, such as the doorbell, it sounds like ding dong to me, but as I found out from Professor Antis, in Japan it sounds like pin pon. So if your not thinking if words really have meanings by now, try pondering why dogs, doorbells, roosters and many other thigns sound different to many different cultures. Words such as ruff, or meow, or purr have no meaning in other countries such as Japan or China, so in reality those words don’t even exist in their culture.
How do you think the original creator of words created words, and why do they actually mean what they do? The only thing that puts words with the “true” definitions are past experiences. When you are a baby you are taught that a bottle is something that you can drink out of, a shirt is worn on our upper bodies, and socks go on our feet, so that is how we are taught the meaning of certain words, by experiencing them, hearing them and taking after those who teach us from the beginning.
To conclude, words such as love can have many different meanings, depending on whom you are saying it to and what context you are saying it in. Throughout the years words have slowly been losing true meaning, if there even is a meaning. Many people use the word love and words like the word terrible to describe many things. Such as, that was a terrible dinner, was it really filled with that much terror? If words really do have meaning, do we even know those meanings anymore? I am drawn to say words do have meaning, but words are only given true meaning by the context the person is speaking in.