bedeuten

English translation: to mean / to signify

GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
German term or phrase:bedeuten / bezeichnen
English translation:to mean / to signify
Entered by: Steffen Walter

18:42 Feb 14, 2004
German to English translations [PRO]
Social Sciences - Philosophy / understanding Wittgenstein
German term or phrase: bedeuten
How does bedeuten and bedeutung compare to bezeichnen and zeichen? Can any of the above words correspond with "significance?"
Sandra Dimas
(cf de Saussure?)
Explanation:
In Std German usage these days, "Bedeutung" can take a meaning of "significance", but also of "meaning".

Now I haven't been into philosophy (after c18) that much myself, but Wittgenstein borders on some linguistic topics. "bezeichnen" and "bedeuten" reminds me of the Saussurean distinction of "signifiant" and "signifiee"... in this sense, they are very similar (to me) but not quite:
- whereas "bezeichnen" would indicate the actional quality of a signifiant (which is considered to be) pointing to one *specific* (class of) signifiee,
- "bedeuten" would indicate a signifiant pointing *in the general direction* of a signifiee.
Does that help in any way?

I don't think example sentences could be of much use with comprehension questions about philosophical texts... there, one should rather ask for an example *text* - which, however, could only serve to help figure out the meaning of the words in it _as_far_as_they_are_in_it_.
Selected response from:

Robert M Maier
Local time: 20:35
Grading comment
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4 +3bedeuten = to mean / to signify ........
swisstell
5 +2not important
Lars Helbig
4several meanings
Alexandra Becker
3 +1Meaning/signification
Alarch Gwyn
3(cf de Saussure?)
Robert M Maier


Discussion entries: 5





  

Answers


5 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
several meanings


Explanation:
significance = Bedeutung (often in the sense of "importance".

bedeuten: Das bedeutet = This means ...

zeichnen means subscribe for shares (financial context)



Alexandra Becker
Germany
Local time: 20:35
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Chris Rowson (X): "zecihnen" also means draw (as in portray) and "bezeichnen" can also mean describe, delineate etc. which seems more relevant to Wittgenstein than share issues do.
46 mins

neutral  ECP11: It says *Zeichen*, misspelt as *zeichen* in the question, not *zeichnen*. - Obviously the asker does not really have a German version of Wittgenstein's text at hand, he is just teasing us.(sign-designation, Zeichen-Bezeichnung)
3 hrs
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7 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
bedeuten = to mean / to signify ........


Explanation:
.. Bedeutung = meaning or significance
... bezeichnen = to mark, denote, designate
.... Bezeichnung = mark, denotation, designation

off the top of my head. There are no doubt more possibilities but this ought to answer your question.

swisstell
Italy
Local time: 20:35
Native speaker of: German
PRO pts in category: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Chris Rowson (X)
44 mins

agree  Mario Marcolin: yes :) somewhat simplified: bedeutung = connotation, bezeichnung = denotation
17 hrs

agree  gangels (X)
19 hrs
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3 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +2
not important


Explanation:
I think a accurate definition of the 'meaning of meaning' goes beyond the capabilities of this forum. You should not put to much worth on the fact that the terms used originated in the german language. The everyday german meaning of the words has little in common with their usage in those philosphical texts.

Yes, you could translate Bedeutung into english and get 'meaning' or 'signifance' but that alone means nothing. You have to actually read the books to get an understanding of what Wittgenstein means with Bedeutung.


    Reference: http://www.kfs.org/~jonathan/witt/tlph.html
Lars Helbig
Germany
Local time: 20:35
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Kim Metzger
8 mins

agree  ECP11: That's exactly what I meant to say in my comment to the question.
26 mins
  -> sorry I had only read the answers and not seen your comment up there

agree  Geneviève von Levetzow
1 hr

agree  Bentext: Comment of the month :)
3 hrs

agree  Cécile Kellermayr
11 hrs

disagree  Robert M Maier: Philosophical usage springs monodirectionally from everyday usage. Even when reading the original, you may have difficulties to comprehend the full semantic range that the author had at her/his command, if you're not a native speaker yourself.
12 hrs

disagree  Mario Marcolin: Yes, you have to read Wittgenstein to know what he means, but that doesn't change the fact that he uses words that are indeed translatable! :)
13 hrs

disagree  gangels (X): with Robert/Mario
16 hrs
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16 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
(cf de Saussure?)


Explanation:
In Std German usage these days, "Bedeutung" can take a meaning of "significance", but also of "meaning".

Now I haven't been into philosophy (after c18) that much myself, but Wittgenstein borders on some linguistic topics. "bezeichnen" and "bedeuten" reminds me of the Saussurean distinction of "signifiant" and "signifiee"... in this sense, they are very similar (to me) but not quite:
- whereas "bezeichnen" would indicate the actional quality of a signifiant (which is considered to be) pointing to one *specific* (class of) signifiee,
- "bedeuten" would indicate a signifiant pointing *in the general direction* of a signifiee.
Does that help in any way?

I don't think example sentences could be of much use with comprehension questions about philosophical texts... there, one should rather ask for an example *text* - which, however, could only serve to help figure out the meaning of the words in it _as_far_as_they_are_in_it_.

Robert M Maier
Local time: 20:35
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman
PRO pts in category: 4
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

17 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
Meaning/signification


Explanation:
Putting it very simply:

In semiotics a sign is broken down into signifier (Bezeichnung) and signified (Bezeichneten), which is the "thing in itself" or an abstract concept. According to Saussure, I believe, the relationship between Bezeichnung and Bezeichneten is purely arbitrary. However the system is not arbitrary in itself.

This means that we cannot just invent our own language. We move within a system of signs.

Bedeutung is derived from the relationship of the signs amongst themselves within specific contexts.

Without knowing Wittgenstein I believe that his work explores these topics and also the idea of a "private language".

Alarch Gwyn
Local time: 20:35
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  gangels (X)
2 hrs
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