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[432a] if we take away or add or transpose any letter, it is not true that the name is written, but written incorrectly; it is not written at all, but immediately becomes a different word, if any such thing happens to it.

Socrates
Perhaps we are not considering the matter in the right way.

Cratylus
Why not?

Socrates
It may be that what you say would be true of those things which must necessarily consist of a certain number or cease to exist at all, as ten, for instance, or any number you like, [432b] if you add or subtract anything is immediately another number; but this is not the kind of correctness which applies to quality or to images in general; on the contrary, the image must not by any means reproduce all the qualities of that which it imitates, if it is to be an image. See if I am not right. Would there be two things, Cratylus and the image of Cratylus, if some god should not merely imitate your color and form, as painters do, but should also make all the inner parts like yours, should reproduce [432c] the same flexibility and warmth, should put into them motion, life, and intellect, such as exist in you, and in short, should place beside you a duplicate of all your qualities? Would there be in such an event Cratylus and an image of Cratylus, or two Cratyluses?

Cratylus
I should say, Socrates, two Cratyluses.

Socrates
Then don't you see, my friend, that we must look for some other principle of correctness in images and in names, of which we were speaking, and must not insist that they are no longer images [432d] if anything be wanting or be added? Do you not perceive how far images are from possessing the same qualities as the originals which they imitate?

Cratylus
Yes, I do.

Socrates
Surely, Cratylus, the effect produced by the names upon the things of which they are the names would be ridiculous, if they were to be entirely like them in every respect. For everything would be duplicated, and no one could tell in any case which was the real thing and which the name.

Cratylus
Quite true.

Socrates
Then do not be faint-hearted, but have the courage to admit that one name may be correctly and another incorrectly given; [432e] do not insist that it must have all the letters and be exactly the same as the thing named, but grant that an inappropriate letter may be employed. But if a letter, then grant that also a noun in a clause, and if a noun, then also a clause in a sentence may be employed which is not appropriate to the things in question, and the thing may none the less be named and described, so long as the intrinsic quality of the thing named is retained,


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