Question 27

The passage given below is followed by four summaries. Choose the option that best captures the author' s position.
A fundamental property of language is that it is slippery and messy and more liquid than solid, a gelatinous mass that changes shape to fit. As Wittgenstein would remind us, "usage has no sharp boundary." Oftentimes, the only way to determine the meaning of a word is to examine how it is used. This insight is often described as the "meaning is use" doctrine. There are differences between the "meaning is use" doctrine and a dictionary-first theory of meaning. "The dictionary's careful fixing of words to definitions, like butterflies pinned under glass, can suggest that this is how language works. The definitions can seem to ensure and fix the meaning of words, just as the gold standard can back a country's currency." What Wittgenstein found in the circulation of ordinary language, however, was a free-floating currency of meaning. The value of each word arises out of the exchange. The lexicographer abstracts a meaning from that exchange, which is then set within the conventions of the dictionary definition.


According to the paragraph, language is like a gelatinous mass that changes shape to fit. Also, many times the only way to find meaning of word is to examine how it is used. It is stated that definitions are fixed for the word by dictionary.Wittgenstein found that circulation of ordinary language was a free-floating currency of meaning. So the meanings are dynamic. Thus, the value of word arises from the exchange and then the lexicographer abstracts meaning from that exchange. Thus, definitions are picked up from the meaning in use. 

Option A, which states that definitions are like dogmatic, cannot be found in the paragraph. Hence, it can be eliminated.

The paragraph doesn't talk about why lexicographers fix meanings. Hence, option B can be eliminated.

Option C covers all the main points. Hence, it is the right choice.

The purpose of the passage is not to compare meaning of words in dictionaries with meaning which arises from exchange. Hence, option D can be eliminated.

Hence, option C is the right choice. 

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