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In essence, all words are code words.  We have designated every sound/letter combination to indicate some meaning or other… the question is, do we always agree on precisely what that meaning is?

Every once in a while I run across the perfect illustration of this dilemma.  The one I found last night happened to be in The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh” by A. A. Milne:

“The best way,” said Rabbit, “would be this.  The best way would be to steal Baby Roo and hide him, and then when Kanga says, ‘Where’s Baby Roo?’ we say, ‘Aha!‘ “

Aha!” said Pooh, practising.  “Aha!  Aha! … Of course,” he went on, “we could say ‘Aha!’ even if we hadn’t stolen Baby Roo.”

“Pooh,” said Rabbit kindly, “you haven’t any brain.”

“I know,” said Pooh humbly.

“We say ‘Aha!’ so that Kanga knows that we know where Baby Roo is.  ‘Aha!‘ means ‘We’ll tell you where Baby Roo is, if you promise to go away from the Forest and never come back.’  Now don’t talk while I think.”

Pooh went into a corner and tried saying “Aha!” in that sort of voice.  Sometimes it seemed to him that it did mean what Rabbit said, and sometimes it seemed to him that it didn’t.  “I suppose it’s just practice,” he thought.  “I wonder if Kanga will have to practice too so as to understand it.”

Indeed.