[B-Greek] question regarding 1 Tim 6:10

yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net
Thu Apr 1 00:21:22 EDT 2010

Grice and other cognitive linguists have discussed "where meaning comes from" in a very fruitful way. Verbal communication is a compex for of communication. Linguistic coding and encoding is involved, but linguistic meaning of an uttered sentence falls short of encoding what the speaker means: it merely helps the audience/reader infer what the speaker/writer means. The output of decoding is correctly treated by the audience as a pice of evidence about the communicator's intentions. In other words, the coding-decoding process is subservient to the inferential process that confers meaning.
Communication is successful not when hearers or readers recognise the linguistic meaning of an utterance, but when they infer the speaker/writer's meaning from it. A simple observation verifies this statement. When a hearer/reader realises that the speaker/writer has misused a word or made a slip of the tongue, they generally discount the wrong meaning. The discounted meaning, however, is not necessarily ill-formed or undecodable; rather, it is wrong only in that it provides misleading evidence about the speaker's intentions. For example, Paul says

γάλα ὑμᾶς ἐπότισα, οὐ βρῶμα·
I caused you to drink, no solid food.

One rightly infers Paul's meaning, 
I gave you milk to drink, and did not feed you solid food.

There is no reason whatsoever to understand Paul's statement in 1 Tim 6:10 as meaning, in terms of the linguistic meaning, anything different in emphasis from Chariton. However, one readily recognizes that Paul is quoting a proverb, which is an exaggeration at that. Mark is correct to infer that Paul's meaning cannot possibly be that the love of money is actually the root of 100% all evils, despite the fact that the linguistic meaning is precisely that. But we must allow Paul the freedom we give ourselves, to quote and shape and exaggerate and skew linguistic and speaker meaning.

The first two paragraphs above are adapted from Sperber and Wilson, Relevance: Communication and Cognition.

Yancy Smith, PhD
yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net
Y.W.Smith at tcu.edu
yancy at wbtc.com
5636 Wedgworth Road
Fort Worth, TX 76133

On Mar 31, 2010, at 5:59 PM, Mark Lightman wrote:

> -- On Tue, 3/30/10, ray marion wrote:
> <Does anyone agree with my translation of 1St Timothy 6:10?
> riza  gar pantwn twn kakawn estin h   filarguria
> a root  For of all      the   evils          is     the  love of money.
> For a root of all the evils is the love of money>
> Hi, Ray,
> Yes, I agree with your translation, which softens 
> the dictum from THE root of all evils. (cf. KJV)
> I should say that my agreement has nothing to
> do with the fact that the RIZA does not have the definite
> article and  KAKWN does.
> Just by coincidence, I happened to be
> re-reading Chariton 4:2, 7 this morning and noticed this
> "συ παντων ημιν των κακων αιτια."
> "You are the cause of all of our evils."
> Here Polycharmus means that Callirhoe is THE (one and
> only ) cause of every last one of their troubles.  Paul
> clearly does not mean this about the love of money.
> In both cases the noun (RIZA and AITIA) is anarthrous.
> The forms are the same, but the meanings are galaxies apart.
> I agree with Elizabeth that Meaning Precedes Form.  What
> I'm trying to figure out is, where does Meaning come from?
> Mark L
> Φωσφορος
> ---
> B-Greek home page: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek
> B-Greek mailing list
> B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-greek

More information about the B-Greek mailing list