dwashbur at nyx.net
Tue Jul 26 12:44:12 EDT 2005
I'm only going to address part of this:
On Tuesday 26 July 2005 09:29, Rolf Furuli wrote:
> I will use two English examples:
> 1) The verb "to sing" has the characteristics durativity (the action occurs
> over time) and dynamicity (the action changes). Regardless of the context
> of this verb, the characteristics durativity and dynamicity cannot be
> cancelled. "To sing" will always indicate that words and melody come out
> of someone`s mouth, and this is durativity and dynamicity.
Hardly. It's common English (American, at least) parlance to say "You really
make that hammer sing" to someone who is adept at driving a nail, usually
with a single blow. The meaning is that the person has exceptional skill in
the field, and has nothing to do with durativity or dynamicity.
> 2) The verb form "went" is grammaticalized past tense, and the semantic
> meaning (relationship) here is that reference time must occur before the
> deictic center (i.e. the action must occur before the present moment ).
In the old "Cisco Kid" TV series, Cisco's sidekick would frequently say "Let's
went." People liked the expression so much that it actually became a common
feature of American language for several decades. Although it is fading now,
one still hears it here and there and it's not considered erroneous.
The idea that words have some kind of "uncancellable" semantic feature(s)
presupposes that words have some kind of inherent "meaning", whatever one
chooses to mean by that term. But they don't. Words mean what they mean
because a society chooses to use them that way. Thus, any feature of any
word may be cancelled if the society in question comes to accept a different
usage. Unlike the famous Humpty Dumpty dictum, such cancellation can't be
arbitrarily assigned by a single individual at a single point in time; this
is why I say "a society," because the usage must come to be accepted by at
least a significant portion of a particular culture. Once upon a time, it
was a foregone conclusion that "bad" carried negative connotations as part of
its "uncancellable" meaning. Now, because of the influence of a particular
American sub-culture, more and more parts of society are coming to accept
that "bad" may be either negative or positive: "You did a bad thing" vs.
"Those are some bad shoes!" The word "breakfast" used to mean the first meal
of the day, generally taken in the morning after waking; thanks to a very
successful advertising campaign in the 1970's it now refers to a certain
group of foods that might be taken at any time of day for any meal. Words do
not have inherent meaning; they mean what we the society choose to make them
mean, and those meanings only come about by common consent, not anything
built into the words themselves.
"Well, if I'd wanted a safe life, I guess I wouldn't have
married a man who studies rocks." - Betty Armstrong (Fay Masterson)
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