Re: Order & meaning in a proposition

From: Lemming <>
Date: Tue, 06 Apr 2004 17:23:58 +0100
Message-ID: <>

On Tue, 6 Apr 2004 08:46:19 -0700, "Tom Hester" <$$> wrote:

>"Lemming" <> wrote in message
>> On Tue, 6 Apr 2004 08:06:25 -0700, "Tom Hester" <$$>
>> wrote:
>> >"Lemming" <> wrote in message
>> >
>> >> On Mon, 5 Apr 2004 19:02:30 -0500, "Dawn M. Wolthuis"
>> >> <> wrote:
>> >
>> >> >Pat is the host who seated the President and the Secretary of the
>> >Interior
>> >Yes, that is called conversational implicature; and it is part of the
>> >meaning of the sentence. That is, a hearer may conventionally conclude
>> >the guests were seated in that order.
>> This "hearer" didn't. I've learned not to make assumptions on the
>> basis of statements which are open to interpretation.
>What I said was not an assumption but a fact. Read a little pragmatics if
>you don't believe me.

I have to hold my hand up and say I haven't even heard of pragmatics as a discipline, so I hope you'll forgive me if what I say from this point is naive. That said, here goes...

As I wrote in an earlier post, the statement: "Pat is the host who seated the President and the Secretary of the Interior" does not tell us when they were seated, where they were seated, or even whether they were seated at the same occasion. Because the two people concerned are VIPs, we might equally well infer that the writer is describing Pat's achievements in seating prominent people during his career. We cannot even say who the persons seated were, e.g. "President" might mean the current US President, or some past president. This is what I mean when I say the statement is open to interpretation. Applying an ordering to the seating based upon the statement as given is likely to be correct, but may very well not be. Hence, the order of seating is not a fact, but a probability - IOW an assumption.

In any event, the order of seating in this particular instance is not important from a modelling point of view. The possibility that the end user *might* be interested in the order is important, but we cannot even infer that from the statement. We need to ask more questions.

>> >Furthermore, we can make the order
>> >explicit by saying: "Pat is the host who seated the President and then
>> >Secretary of the Interior" and I believe that Dawn's point still holds.
>> >That is, the resulting relational model would not reflect the order; even
>> >though it is now explicit.
>> I believe you are saying that if the sequence of events isn't part of
>> the relationships between the tables, then it's not part of the model.
>I didn't say that at all.

Then I misunderstood. Please indulge me: what *are* you saying? I already suggested one possible method which would capture the order of events, if it was important. Why does that not fulfil the objective of modelling the time order of seating, if it is required?


Curiosity *may* have killed Schrodinger's cat.
Received on Tue Apr 06 2004 - 18:23:58 CEST

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