The Other Meanings
by Shahinur Islam
Everything has its own meaning(s), but every meaning has its other meanings, too. Even the ‘other’ has its other meanings. Thus meanings act; meanings react and interact; and new meanings are created through constant reactions. It is an infinite process through finite and specific words, images, tones, and gestures.
Meanings are often created, and associated with one’s own benefits, and sometimes are followed usually by common people. But tricky, persuading, and complicated people constantly create meanings for fulfilling their own purposes or goals. Not that great leaders or inventors do not create meanings, but they do it mostly for a good cause. In that case, new meanings are meaningful.
Perhaps many factors are responsible for creating ‘other meanings’ of a word, sentence, text, or discourse. Some of the factors are the reader/receiver’s mind-set, cultural setting, language construction, education, own ability, purpose, etc.
Now the misunderstanding or miscommunication tends to happen if the receivers/readers/audiences decipher the ‘other meaning’ of a discourse very differently. The receivers, of course, interpret things in their own way, but miscommunication occurs when the apparent source meanings are poles apart from the target meanings. The receivers are also exploited and oppressed if they fail to understand the other meanings of a discourse deliberately created by the originators. The bad leaders, the deceivers, the frauds have been creating the other meanings constantly, and thus, depriving the receivers for ages.
How are the other meanings created? They are created by the tone, accent, body language, and attitude when the originators communicate the meanings in speech; they are created by the tone, punctuation, attitude, style, and sequence when the originators do so in writing. Again, the tone, accent, body language, attitude, punctuation, style, etc. assume different forms in different areas: political, social, local, global. As much the medium of communication is implicit and non-verbal as the possibility of other meanings is. For example, an artistic picture, whether painting or photograph, talks much more and creates more ‘other meanings’ than a piece of writing. Again, an artistic piece of writing talks more and creates ‘other meanings’ more than a verbal communication. That’s why, they are more powerful and stronger as well since they have many more ‘other meanings’. As such, silence is more powerful than words if you know how to use it in between words.
Silence is powerful if you can use it in words; it itself bears no significant meanings in the same way as the rest is used in playing a musical instrument. So creating more powerful meanings of a discourse depends on how you use inaction in action, silence in words, gaps in sequence. For example, you can write a fictional or non-fictional composition with long sentences; you can also create beauty and melody in short gaps of sentences. Those who talk in long sentences can mesmerize us; those who talk in asthmatic and regular gaps can also attract and spell us if they know how to use the gaps in words.
New ages always bring about new technology, and new technology always creates new meanings, and thus forsakes the old meanings. Then a new language with absolutely new meanings is created. Everything has thousands of meanings as every body of ours has thousands of pores, through which we shed beads of sweat. Everything can shed thousands of meanings through the pores of thousands of other meanings. Every ‘other meaning’ is like a pore in our body.
Meanings depend on three things: the originator, the receiver, the context. Here the receiver may also be the interpreter if he or she not only just receives the meanings from the originator, but interprets and analyzes the meanings in a context.
Every meaning bears, or is given, various values: economic, political, personal, social, local, and even global. All values of meanings do not coincide with one another. Sometimes a value overlaps the other area(s), sometimes not. Some values always overlap all other areas; some areas always overlap all other values; but not all values and areas always coincide with one another.
Meanings are usually created, but some meanings are born out of the action and reaction of the existing meanings, which are the natural by-products. After creation, they are then applied with a purpose in an area. The purpose depends on the good will or ill will of the person.
The colonizers came to the other territories, and created their own meanings to rule and retain their power in it. Let’s go back to history for some time. Once upon a time, the British reigned almost all over the world. In so doing, they created their own meanings, imposed them on the natives, and inculcated into their psyche. They created these meanings through their literary, cultural, administrative, and political interpretations. The Vedic people also colonized the native people of India with their new meanings created by their concepts, cultures and literature. Without new meanings, they could not rule them for a long time, even if they could, they could not enter their deep-rooted mind-set to date. After some generations, the meanings of the ruler/colonizer assume an everlasting form; then, the original meaning of the native is lost or at best remains as relics in culture and language. Not only that, it is hated and despised by their own descendants as well. Though there are very few people who value the original meanings, they are cornered as minority groups.