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.
Is Mathematics Or Philosophy More Fundamental?
Answer: Philosophy is more fundamental than mathematics.
This is changing, but mathematics is incapable at this time of comprehensively describing epistemology, whereas, philosophy can.
Hence; mathematics is restrained to pure ontology. It does not reach far enough into the universe to distinguish anything other than ontologies. This will change soon. I am working on exactly this problem. See http://mathematica-universalis.com for more information on my work. (I’m not selling anything on this site.)
Also, mathematics cannot be done without expressing some kind of philosophy to underlie any axioms which it needs to function.
Implication is a ‘given’ in mathematics. It assumes a relation which we call implication. Mathematics certainly ‘consumes’ them as a means to create inferences, but the inference form, the antecedent, and the consequent are implicit axioms based upon an underlying metaphysics.
Ergo: philosophy is more general and universal than mathematics.
Often epistemology is considered separate from metaphysics, but that is incorrect, because you cannot answer questions as to ‘How do we know?” without an underlying metaphysical framework within which such a question and answer can be considered.