There was a street in Berkeley called Grove. It’s name was later changed to Martin Luther King Boulevard. Some time after that the city posted a sign labeling the street “Old Grove Street.” Subsequently, people would refer to the street that way, which made B and I joke that it was eventually going to be known as Old Old Grove Street Street.
In a similar vein, this essay, called “(East (New (York))), (New (York)),” points out the role of ambiguity and naming in the richness of semantic meaning, and identifies an impoverishment of meaning in machine-literal systems and protocols, such as the marriage of domain name service and IP addresses that brough us the “.com” obsession:
We deal with ambiguity by glomming onto the first sufficient interpretation as we listen (or read) and continue on. We usually don’t even notice that there may be other interpretations. Given the number of possible interpretations of any given sequence of words it is surprising that we communicate as at all. We treat each failure to communicate or understand as a special case and thus avoid recognizing the larger issue. At best, issues of naming and ambiguity are treated as interesting philosophical concepts that have no direct relevance to the real world.
[thanks to bOing bOing for the link]