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Change Don't Come Easy: Nonnegotiable Meanings

We often use language creatively, introducing new expressions on the fly. That we can successfully communicate with novel expressions without antecedent semantic knowledge has led many to a dynamic meaning hypothesis: namely, we can actively renegotiate extant semantic conventions to better suit our communicative, practical, and even normative concerns. We argue that this hypothesis is a mistake: meanings are non-negotiable, and so, lexical innovation cannot proceed by way of meaning-negotiation.

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