> Language is symbolic. A sign is what has been negotiated between sign
> users. The meaning of a sign is not my (non-symbolic) experience of
> it. Meanings are not in the head, as Hilary Putnam never got tired of
> repeating. The meaning of a sign is the way in which the members of a
> discourse community are using it. It is what happens in the symbolic
> interactions between people, not in their minds.
The debate between whether meaning is in the head or "in the community"/ in usage (as exemplified by a corpus) strikes me as somewhat analogous to what Douglas Hofstadter said in his book "Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid". It's been twenty-odd years since I read that, but I'll try to paraphrase. He asked whether the meaning was _in_ a particular "text" (used in a broad sense to including things like a DNA sequence), or in the combination of the text and the reader (e.g. DNA, RNA, the ribosomes and amino acids etc.) His point, if I understood it, was that meaning could not be encoded by a text alone, but only by the combination of text and reader.
Coming back to linguistics, I would have thought that meaning was not inherent in any corpus, nor in some community's use of language, but could only be understood (bad term, but I can't think of another) with reference to the individual minds of the people using that language-- including the situations where there's only one native speaker of a language left, or there are no native speakers left and we're trying to understand what Aristotle or Cicero said.
Of course, it's possible I misunderstand what Wolfgang (and Putnam) mean when they say "Meanings are not in the head." In which case, we'll have to negotiate :-) --
"We signify something too narrow when we say:
Man is a grammatical animal. For although there
is no animal except man with a knowledge of grammar,
yet not every man has a knowledge of grammar."
--Martianus Capella, "The Seven Liberal Arts"