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The Meaning of Meaning subtitled A Study of the Influence of Language upon Thought and of the Science of Symbolism (1923) was co-authored by C. K. Ogden and I. A. Richards, Magdalene College, University of Cambridge. It is accompanied by the two supplementary essays by Bronislaw Malinowski and F. G. Crookshank.

Although the original text was published in 1923 it was used as a textbook in many fields including Linguistics, Philosophy, Language, Cognitive science and most recently Semantics. The book has been reprinted several times up through 1993.

The book's focus is on how individuals use language. The book description states that Language is the most important of all the instruments of civilization.

Thoughts, words and things

One of the key innovations of the book was the differentiation between three separate dimensions:

  • The conceptual domain - thoughts that are in our minds
  • The symbolic domain - words and symbols that we use to communicate with others
  • The real world - things in the real world that we refer to in our thoughts and with symbols

Mental, verbal and external contexts

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Attention to C. S. Peirce

Charles Saunders Pierce's contribution to the philosophy of language was the semiotic triangle. This device is used in teaching how concepts such as the semantic web differ from the current HTML and XML oriented web.

Supplementary essays

  • The Problem of Meaning in Primitive Language by Bronislaw Malinowski, Professor of Anthropology, University of London.
  • The Importance of a Theory of Signs and a Critique of Language in the Study of Medicine by F. G. Crookshank.


  • Because the book was originally written in 1923 the text is difficult for many students to read.


(to come)

Coincidental titles

See also

External links

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