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But the substitution rule doesn't represent permission to live in a world of private meaning. "Let 'glory' mean 'a nice knock-down argument'" is a public declaration. Once I make the declaration, and you agree to follow it, the word's new meaning is not an artifact of my subjectivity or yours; it exists out there in the social space between us.

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It's not only in the Humpty Dumpty chapter that Carroll the gamer perceives this game-like quality of language. As I noted in this postcriticism about "Jabberwocky" as an illustration of "pure form," Carroll clearly sees that making intelligible sentences consists of following rules about syntax and word endings. You can follow these rules with invented words as easily as you can with the ones in the dictionary. The result — whether it's Carroll's wonderful poem or Noam Chomsky's Colorless green ideas sleep furiously is "nonsense" — words with no meaning that take the form of meaningful speech.

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