Friday, May 17, 2013

"Just what I choose it to mean"

Annoyed again by those who seem to believe "Christian" is a word that means whatever they want it to mean I was reminded of this from Lewis Carroll. Having proved to his own satisfaction that un-birthday presents are superior to birthday presents because they can be given far more times in a year, Humpty Dumpty says:
“There’s glory for you!”

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’” Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously.
“Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’”

“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument,’” Alice objected.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”
The illustration is a  classic by John Tenniel done for the original book.