Here’s a thought experiment to sharpen the point. 

Imagine that I don’t know any Spanish at all, but I’ve been told that “uno” is 
a number in that language (but not which number it is).  I then give the 
message, “I spend uno energy.” If twg speaks Spanish and knows that word, then 
have I communicated to him a choice of energy expenditure here? I think yes: 
the communicative content of the message does not depend on my internal mental 
state, but instead upon the signs that I am transmitting in broader social 
context, which is one where “uno” definitely means “one” (even if I don’t know 
that myself). 

Or what if I am told that -e^(i * pi) is a positive integer, but don’t know 
which one it is and refuse to google it. Do I communicate a valid choice if I 
tell twg that I choose -e^(i * pi)? 

If “rau” signifies a number in a legitimate language that twg understands 
(twgese), then my election of rau+1 should work in the same way as “uno” and 
“e^(i * pi)” do in the above hypotheticals. However, I think that “rau” 
actually doesn’t signify a number in any language (because private languages 
are impossible), and so twg didn’t actually communicate a number when e sent 
eir message and my election of rau+1 also doesn’t work. 

> On Jan 15, 2019, at 6:16 PM, D. Margaux <> wrote:
>> On Jan 15, 2019, at 5:49 PM, Timon Walshe-Grey <> wrote:
>> Actually, at the time you posted the quoted message, "rau" meant "a pigeon 
>> or dove", so your statement is clearly incorrect. twgese is, after all, an 
>> evolving language - the meanings of words change all the time.
> I apologize, I should have been more precise. 
> I spend rau + 1 energy, but I use the word “rau” in this context in an 
> anachronistic sense to mean what “rau” meant in twgese at the time you sent 
> your first message with the word “rau.”  Hope this clarifies things. :-)
>> Also, I think your attempt to announce the Energy you will spend fails, 
>> because I have no idea what you thought "rau" meant, so your message did not 
>> communicate that information to me.
> I don’t think this is quite right. You can never know precisely what I think 
> anything means, because you can’t perceive directly into my mind. 
> Accordingly, it cannot be a precondition to successful communication that you 
> must know my private mental meanings if any (because that could never be 
> satisfied). Instead, what you can perceive are the signs and symbols that I 
> convey to you; and those signs and symbols are imbued with meaning by their 
> history of usage by a community of language speakers/writers. So you don’t 
> need to know what (if anything) I “thought rau meant” in my mind; instead, 
> all that is required for successful communication is that you  evaluate the 
> meaning of the signs and symbols I convey to you in their full social context.
> Here, evidently, rau is a twgese word that had a particular meaning that you 
> yourself know at the time you first used it. So that’s what I’ve communicated 
> to you in my message. :-)
> [[As a more serious aside, I think the logic I’m laying out in this email is 
> essentially the reason why the later Wittgenstein demonstrated that private 
> languages such as twgese are impossible. So actually “rau” has no meaning in 
> either of our emails. But it’s been a long time since I had to think about 
> Wittgenstein, so I may have garbled the logic of it.]]

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