This is a statement making a pretense at being universal, "never," and then admitting to the broad area of exception, "non-constructive."
So, I will take the above to mean that, 'yes, many discussions can be quickly resolved by the simple expediant of consulting a dictionary.
If by resolved you mean that a pompous ass can walk away feeling that the matter has been resolved, then yes, for sure.
'Resolved' though, is a term that I generally take to mean that the matter has been properly
put to rest.
Ofcourse, if the discussion is 'what is the dictionary definition of x?', then a constructive resolution can be made by reference to a dictionary. That is all.
I must have had my nonsense filter turned on full.
Your 'cheesy' example tends to make my case for me. Rather than using a standardized dictionary, the participants simply decided to publicly pronounce their own definitions, rather than keeping them private. IOW, they created a limited, and momentary, dictionary.
Let's say in our discussion that you define an 'abortion' as the ending of a zygote's life, and ALA defines it as ending a fetus's, while I define it as ending an embro's. If none of us bothers to share these private definitions, how do you suppose this discussion (i.e. 'does a morning after pill constitute and abortion') would prosper? If we borrow from your cheese example, we could agree to accept each's personal definition, but that would mean there would be no resolution = end of discussion. OR, we could resort to using an authoritative, and neutral, source, e.g. a dictionary.
If you want to define public pronouncing one's personal understanding of a term as 'a dictionary' then fine, there are circumstances in which consulting 'a dictionary' can assist in a discussion, though again, not to end the discussion.
The two types of 'dictionary' should also not be conflated. If by 'private definitions' you mean a personal understanding that is never shared, then for sure, private definitions are inhibitors to conversation. This is of little consequence, though, as people rarely have such 'private definitions' that they gleefully refuse to share with anyone.
In the cheese discussion the issue at hand is not 'what is the definition of cheese?', the issue at hand is 'does a recipe using feta qualify as 'Mr.Pilkington's Cheese Based Savoury Snack Foods'?'
Resorting to a dictionary does not resolve this issue.
Heck, why not sign on to using the same definitions as the rest of the English speaking world, or is that just too confining?
Ok, now I am beginning to suspect that you are not the genuine Non Sum, because it is only grudgingly that I could believe him to be so stupid.
Do you seriously contend that there is a universal understanding of the definitions of words within the English speaking world? Any semblance of universality in definitions has only arisen in recent years, and that is still very much a semblance.
English has no central authoritative dispassionate definitions for word usage, the dictionary is not intended to be this. The dictionary is a documentation of the way that the english language is most commonly used, and is not intended to be exhaustive or authoritative.Prescription vs. Description in dictionaries
Assumedly you are a prescriptivist? Another word for this is babbling retard.
I wish it were of my own origination, but alas I borrowed it from that flimsest of all philosophers, L. Wittgenstein.
And I'm sure Wittgenstein never said anything stupid in his life. Give me a break, you are really citing an authority?
Non Sum wrote:
Not anymore than we can play chess with each of us holding strictly to our own version of the game's rules.
Non Sum wrote:
This is not say that he has decreed what language is, and that we all must bow to it. But, if you find it faulty, as with any reasonable position, you must counter it with a well reasoned argument of your own; never just dismiss it in some god-like manner. That sort of conduct is unworthy of you, of all people.
Apparently you are blind. I responded "A signpost pointing east does not point to the same place as another signpost that points east, if it is 20 miles north."
That is to say, a word used by two different people makes two distinct references because of where it originates.
Language may be comparable to a game, but it is distinctly more complex than chess, and the fact that something does not work in chess does not imply that it will not work in language. Such reductionist analogising is, frankly, pathetic.
What concern have I where others' define the compass locations? I make up my own private directions, and thus have redefined North America as South America, and visa versa. I'm thinking of making Britain a continent, and Asia a small island; screw "authoritative charlatans".
It doesn't matter whether you call it North or South, there is no reason why one should be considered up and the other should be considered down, just so long as when you are talking to people you inform them what you mean by each term.