Words are symbolic indications and/or conveyors of meaning and are not that meaning in themselves.
Meaning is found, stored, and manipulated in our minds. This is why different languages are capable, in varying degrees of usefulness, to convey meaning which is very similar to that found via the symbols of any other.
It It is also the reason why there are words indicating meaning that are not found in other languages; or, if found in a different language, the other language requires more of its own structure, dynamics, and resonance to convey the same meaning.
For example: the words ‘déjà vu’ in French are found in German ‘schon gesehen’ and in English ‘already seen’, but these phrases do not convey the full meaning found in the French version. To counter this deficit, their meaning in other languages must be ‘constructed’ out of or ‘fortified’ by the careful use of longer strings of symbols. This additional construction and/or fortification may even fail at times. This is often where the word phrase from a different language is simply added to the language in which the concept is missing.
This same situation is found in the literature of many languages. The words used to convey meaning are condensed and may contain more meaning than is usually the case. In this regard, even the person reading/hearing the words may not possess the competence necessary to catch this condensed meaning in its fullness.
Mathematical expressions, albeit more precise, are also indications of meaning. They are more robust in their formulation, but at ever-increasing depth or scope, even they may fail to reliably or conveniently convey meaning.
Our understanding of what words mean is not always accurate, but where our mutual understanding of the meaning of words overlaps, and the degree to which they overlap, is where their meaning can be shared.
Our own personal understanding of words is measured by our ability to apply their meaning in our lives.
There is also a false meme, which I would like to clarify.
“Knowledge is Power!”
It is wrongly said that ‘Knowledge is power’. The truth is another: Knowledge is the measure of usefulness of what we understand and is the only true expression of its ‘power’.
The value of Knowledge is found in its usefulness and not in its possession.
Information Visualization Is Not Knowledge Representation
This great video from Lynda.com shows how the processing language/interpreter is great for modeling information.
With such a multitude of interesting ways to model data, we find it hard to resist the temptation to call this knowledge, but it’s not!
All of the wonderful representations here still require us to interpret their meaning!
What if there were a way to present knowledge in which our own understanding is not required to interpret them? What if our understanding of what we have presented to us becomes part of the presentation itself, and in fact, influences what we take from that representation?
We obviously need knowledge representation that can provide their meaning on their own for only they can provide a true understanding of their inherent structure and dynamics.
You see real understanding is the personalization of knowledge into your own mind. If your mind cannot dialog with that knowledge, it’s not really yours and if your mind does all the work, it’s only information.