Familiar things : easy to define?

Les mots nous présentent des choses une petite image claire et usuelle comme celles que l’on suspend aux murs des écoles pour donner aux enfants l’exemple de ce qu’est un établi, un oiseau, une fourmilière, choses conçues comme pareilles à toutes celles de même sorte.

(Proust, A la recherche du temps perdu, Edition QUARTO, Gallimard, p.312)


Words present to us little pictures of things, lucid and normal, like the pictures that are hung on the walls of schoolrooms to give children an illustration of what is meant by a carpenter's bench, a bird, an ant-hill; things chosen as typical of everything else of the same sort.

(Translation: C.K. Scott Moncrieff, Remembrance of Things Past, Vol. I, p.296, Random House)


Any ordinary word, as "give," "bird," "marriage," is an example of a symbol. It is applicable to whatever may be found to realize the idea connected with the word; it does not, in itself, identify those things. It does not show us a bird, nor enact before our eyes a giving or a marriage, but supposes that we are able to imagine those things, and have associated the word with them. (Peirce MS 404. [Published in part in CP 2.281, 285, and 297-302. This work, probably composed early in 1894, was originally the first chapter of a book entitled "The Art of Reasoning," but was then turned into the second chapter of Peirce's multi-volume "How to Reason: A Critick of Arguments" (also known as "Grand Logic").)

-> to know the meaning of a word is to know how to use it, that’s all and everything there’s to say about meaning… (a Wittgensteinian view)


- ¿ Por qué militas ?

-         Yo. Anda. Pues vaya pregunta (…) No me seas tan quintacolumnista : te paseas por las bases con esa preguntita y me hundes al personal. Es como preguntar : ¿ qué es una mesa ?

(Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, Asesinato en el Comité Central, Planeta, 1981, p.131)



mesa : MUEBLE formado por una superficie plana sostenida por una o varias patas, y que tiene distintos usos, espec. comer o escribir.

mueble : OBJETO que se puede mover…

objeto : COSA material

cosa : OBJETO real / OBJETO material

(Diccionario del Estudiante, Real Academia Española, 2005)