Say for example some plant names. We have an
orange which we easily know is a fruit, but is also a color. We have
green which is a color, and
greens which is plants, or money, or I could imagine it being a sports team like the Red Sox, but even if we didn't capitalize it we would know the red sox is a team, not red [x].
For plants we have
poison oak, which is a type of plant, not "poisoned" oak. But you could have poison greens, which are actually poisoned. I don't see how we tell the difference. Poison is also a band, and a bunch of other stuff.
There are other plant names like
sage. But a "sage" is a type of person as well. It's also a seasoning, and incense. Sage has a ton of disparate meanings.
Wondering what is the process I am going through to realize the meaning of these words which have multiple totally different meanings.
They went to the forest and walked by some sage, holding some sage next to the sage [their friend]. They saw some poison oak and poison greens in the greens, but not Poison or green.
I understand that "context" is an important factor. But I don't quite see what context exactly is coming into play when I read these sentences or see some words. There is punctuation as in
poison. There is adding extra description as in
sage [their friend]. But other than that, there is not much literally there.
When I see
coffeeberry, I don't think "coffee", even if I don't know what it is. It has "berry" in the name so maybe it's a fruit like boysenberry. Turns out it's a plant. So perhaps I couldn't guess what it is without learning it's meaning explicitly. When I read
dogwood I don't think "dog", maybe because I would probably see that related to some botany event. I kind of think of a band when I hear that name, like Fleetwood Mac and Three Dog Night, so somehow my brain is trying to make sense of the new input. But I don't see how it's doing it.
But we can get more complex than just using nouns, and start converting these words in verbs too! Dual formed words.
So we can say "They greened the landscape." to mean they planted lots of plants covering the landscape. Then we can say:
I want to use my green to green the landscape with some greens.
I want to use my money to plant some plants on the landscape.
There it is again,
plant a plant. "I want to plant a plant in the plant". (Indoor plant/factory).
So I am wondering how we are able to determine the meaning and form of these words whose meaning is totally different in different places in the sentence. As an extreme example, say we converted the word "I" to a verb. And then we have 10 different things we've called "I" (like how "Sage" has like 50 things called sage). Say we even created 10 or so verbs called "I", similar to how "plant" as a verb has multiple meanings (plant a plant, lay something on the ground). So we have this sentence.
I I I I I I I I I I I I.
Obviously this doesn't make any sense because we created too many same-named words. So there is a balance of some sort. But I would like to know what the balance is, when we are allowed to map new meanings to existing words (that is, create new words using existing words as their name). When too much is too much.
Basically I don't understand how it's possible for us to understand these sentences. I would've assumed that every word has to have exactly one meaning in order for a thing to be understood.
So the question is, if there is some sort of way to tell if adding new meanings to a word (i.e. repeating a word's name with different meaning) will make it easier or harder to comprehend a sentence. Related to this but probably a bit too lengthy is how we go about understanding the meaning of these words.
I am also familiar with the ideas of sentence structure like having SVO and how we can use that to help figure out the meaning of words. So no need to explain any of that :)