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Re: Order & meaning in a proposition

From: Dawn M. Wolthuis <dwolt_at_tincat-group.com>
Date: Tue, 6 Apr 2004 12:57:06 -0500
Message-ID: <c4ur27$prb$1@news.netins.net>


"Lemming" <thiswillbounce_at_bumblbee.demon.co.uk> wrote in message news:d9o570hhmusbj3h64kpbim49o5e97ofi77_at_4ax.com...
> On Tue, 6 Apr 2004 11:33:40 -0500, "Dawn M. Wolthuis"
> <dwolt_at_tincat-group.com> wrote:
>
> >"Lemming" <thiswillbounce_at_bumblbee.demon.co.uk> wrote in message
> >news:p9m570l8m4orquis3a9ndi7h4ojnfhhg06_at_4ax.com...
> >> On Tue, 6 Apr 2004 08:46:19 -0700, "Tom Hester" <$$tom_at_metadata.com>
> >> wrote:
> >>
> >> >
> >> >"Lemming" <thiswillbounce_at_bumblbee.demon.co.uk> wrote in message
> >> >news:o1i570dni7ed6aa7me49npn6h31278lqie_at_4ax.com...
> >> >> On Tue, 6 Apr 2004 08:06:25 -0700, "Tom Hester" <$$tom_at_metadata.com>
> >> >> wrote:
> >> >>
> >> >> >"Lemming" <thiswillbounce_at_bumblbee.demon.co.uk> wrote in message
> >> >> >news:dk8570p9lapb8kh7uar9psihtat6ojgh07_at_4ax.com...
> >> >> >> On Mon, 5 Apr 2004 19:02:30 -0500, "Dawn M. Wolthuis"
> >> >> >> <dwolt_at_tincat-group.com> 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
> >> >that
> >> >> >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...
> >
> >"Pragmantics" as a discipline is both in linguistics and semiotics. I
only
> >know that because my father is a linguist and my daughter is studying
> >semiotics. It gives a perspective to the work of capturing of
propositions
> >that is not found in logic studies alone.
>
> ok, I've just begun a google-led crash-course in pragmatics :)
>
> From my brief reading I have absolutely no doubt that pragmatics can
> be used to infer unspoken meaning from statements, my objection here
> is to the inference of "facts" such as time ordering from the
> specific phrase being discussed.
>
> The point of contention seems to be that since the President was
> mentioned in the statement before the Secretary of the Interior, then
> the President must have been seated first. It could simply be though
> that the writer felt that the President is more important than the
> Secretary, and so should be mentioned first. The writer need not even
> have known the order of seating in order for the statement to be
> written exactly as is.

Yes, my understanding of the sentence when I wrote it was that the "most important" person would likely (not necessarily, but likely) be mentioned first. So, the sentence tells you who the writer of the sentence thinks to be more important. If the listener/reader had no ordering in their brain prior to consuming this sentence, they might be swayed just a little to think of the first person mentioned as being in a more important position.

Definitely subtle, but it is just one example. If you take a whole bunch of sentences where you pull out some of the it-might-be-there meaning, you reduce every listener to someone who isn't clued in to the politics or sociology of words and how they are ordered, for example (perhaps it would reduce all people to that of the most clueless group, uh, men?) [just an example of friendly banter that isn't a personal attack] smiles. --dawn

> Lemming
> --
> Curiosity *may* have killed Schrodinger's cat.
Received on Tue Apr 06 2004 - 12:57:06 CDT

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