Meaning of “Meaning”

When I first learned about SATs I thought it was a very stupid test. I was very pissed off, of course, about the verbal section. I felt that I was penalized for not being a native speaker of English. Besides, the whole concept seemed silly to me — I encountered very few Russian words that I didn’t know the meaning of in my daily reading. I thought that I could not acieve the perfect score only because I did not know English well enough.

Now I realize how little I knew about meaning of words back then, and how little I know now. I used many words just because they sounded cool, without thinking about meaning. Sometimes I made up my own meaning for words based on auditory associations.

For instance, let’s take words “tactic” and “strategy”. I thought that they were synonyms. I encountered the word “tactical” in descriptions of many items. I always thought that it was just a military buzzword. Tactical nuclear weapon and strategic bomber. Tactical holster. Even a bag can be tactical.

Well, today I learned that there is a difference. “Tactics” are short term plans, and “strategies” are long term. When you bomb enemy on the battlefield – that’s tactical bombing (the tanks and soldiers are there now). When you bomb factories, airfields and general population of the enemy – that’s strategic bombing (they are not involved in fighting now, but they will get involved in the future).

Timeframe involved doesn’t really matter. Strategy and tactics are defined relative to each other. For instance, take look at this cartoon :

Topato Potato is giving Wigu strategic advice, and Wigu is making tactical decisions. When he strays from the strategy outlined by Topato, he gets into trouble.

Tactical bag? That’s just a buzzword, methinks.

And meaning of “mean�ing”? It’s right here.