chapter  I
7 Pages

What is a Word?

Before considering the meaning of words, let us examine them first as occurrences in the sensible world. From this point of view, words are of four sorts: spoken, heard, written, and read. It will do no harm to assume a common-sense view of material objects, since we can always subsequently translate what has been said in common-sense terms into whatever philosophical language we may prefer. It is therefore possible to amalgamate written and read words, substituting for each a material object -a mound of ink, as Neurath says-which is a written or printed word according to circumstances. The distinction between writing and reading is of course important, but almost everything that needs to be said about it can be said in connection with the difference between speaking and hearing.