ContractsProf Blog

Editor: D. A. Jeremy Telman
Valparaiso Univ. Law School

Thursday, October 31, 2013

On the Meaning of "Chicken"

Dear Judges Friendly and Traynor:

Upon reflection, Judge Traynor may have had it right when he wrote:

Words, however, do not have absolute and constant referents. "A word is a symbol of thought but has no arbitrary and fixed meaning like a symbol of algebra or chemistry, ..." * * * The meaning of particular words or groups of words varies with the "... verbal context and surrounding circumstances and purposes in view of the linguistic education and experience of their users and their hearers or readers (not excluding judges). ... A word has no meaning apart from these factors; much less does it have an objective meaning, one true meaning."

I say this because, today, I learned what "chicken" apparently means in one specific context in Suffolk County, New York.  You don't suppose that this is was what Frigaliment and B.N.S. meant by "chicken"?

Truly yours,

[Meredith R. Miller]

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