I guess I could be letting some of my own biases sneak into my 'reading'
of your theoretical proposals. Bringing my biases along with me is
somehow part of the 'reading' process, I findů But I don't think I was
unkindly attributing beliefs to you that had no warrant in the substance
of your statements. I'm trying to see how the following is somehow NOT
a statement of belief about how the structure of written language
conceals some necessary connections to its referents: "[W]e believe
that the morphology of a word, its structure, is also a sign that refers
to an abstract object structure that is somehow related to the structure
of the object to which the word refers." ?? (02)
To take one of your specific examples: "Terms of this type [and perhaps
this is where I'm getting confused, because I don't know precisely what
is meant by 'this type'] that are related to mental activity include
"brain", "mind", "remind", "admonish", "meditate", "medulla",
"dementia", "demented", and "cerebral"."
So, my 'interpretation' of the above is that the shape and structure of
these words already reveals a shared, somewhat hidden, but necessary
connection to the things -- the abstract object structures -- they
signify. And, presumably there is a neat theoretical explanation for
how we've acquired other words in English related to mental activities,
like "intellect," "cogitation," "wits," "senses," "rational," "noetic,"
"psyche," that don't fit the pattern? In the spirit of examining a
theoretical proposal, I'd like to know how we can be sure these patterns
are observed meaningfully and consistently throughout the entire
language, and that we are not just focusing on the most convenient
examples? Does this apply only to words with Arabic roots? And how do
we explain words like "cleave," that have two distinctly opposite
meanings, but are not morphologically or etymologically distinguished in
any way that would allow consistent inferences about the meaning of the
I still think there is something alien about this, which, I admit, is a
comment somewhat irrelevant to its scientific & linguistic validity.
Perhaps one should not be so hasty after all to dismiss ideas merely on
the basis of epistemological foreignness? But theories should be
capable of advancing our knowledge by explaining both the convenient and
inconvenient real-world examples, which, no doubt, proves to be a high
threshold in the vast arena of human language. (04)
Ken Ewell wrote:
> I think I was demonstrating how things that are the case (things
> considered relevant) can be semantically mapped to and from an array of
> linguistic expressions representing such states-of-affairs; without an
> absolute definition in advance; how abstract categories can be used to
> organize semantically related vocabulary. This has absolutely nothing to
> do with the fact that language is judged to be arbitrary by modern
> Unfortunately that post meant for Azmat went to the entire working group
> and I would be the first to apologize if I said anything to "offend
> modern sensibilities". I do apologize to the group for such a long post
> detailed with such lengthy examples. I promise to be more careful with
> my posting in the future.
>> KL> You understand, here, that it is necessary for me to allow M.
>> Foucault to go on at such length about this because the whole notion
>> is so alien to our modern sensibilities. This alien epistemology is
>> what you seem to have resurrected in your taxonomy of 18 distinct
>> semantic classifications.
> Alien is a very strong characterization that does not square with the
> facts. John Lawler and Richard Rhodes, both respected linguists, found
> that the phoneme br- represented discontinuity.
>> KL> Actually, I almost forgot, there are some contemporary folks who
>> share your belief that the shape and structure of written language
>> conceals some necessary and eternal truths: <snip>
> I looked through every word and I did not find anywhere in the post
> where I stated, insinuated or implied that I have a "belief that the
> shape and structure of written language conceals some necessary and
> eternal truths". I would ask you to be so kind as to not attribute
> beliefs to me that I do not hold. If this was your belief, your
> obvious biases may be blinding you to what is actually the case.
> -Ken Ewell
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