by: Remmy Ar'emen - written for a school paper.
Why we need definitions.
As I look at a photograph of what appears to be a Middle Eastern man in front of a wall of unknown writing in the form of symbols I am struck with the obviousness that without definitions there would be no meaning to text. Definitions are important because they provide a common understanding and context to the use of any given word. Without knowing what those symbols mean on the wall, I have no understanding of the text offered there, I have no idea what message is trying to be given.
Needing to define words isn’t just strictly important to text either. It’s important within vocal conversations as well. For example, the word “cool” has many definitions, some ‘slang’ oriented and others are strict definitions as they were originally defined. Words have a way of evolving around the civilization using them. Originally the word “cool” meant cold in temperature. Through the evolution of our culture that word picked up a new meaning more along the lines of neat, awesome, and interesting. In a conversation, if someone was unaware of the second definition of the word, a statement like: “Oh, that’s really cool.” changes in meaning. The speaker may have intended to express that whatever the subject happened to be, was awesome. However without the knowledge of this definition, they understand the comment to mean that the subject is cold in temperature.
For the purpose of exchanging information, ideas and concepts it’s important that we have definitions to promote a solid understanding. Without them, we lose our ability to truly understand one another; we lose our ability to communicate.