Re: Words and Such

On Wed, 11 May 1994, Steven E. Rice P.E. wrote:
>                                                    bulldog
>     If you argue with George, you'll find he's a {          }.
>                                                    pussycat
> The only difference in the sentence is one word.  But the meanings are
> diametrically opposed.
> Perhaps I do not understand the argument Keith and Bob are making.
> Would someone clarify, please?

It is misleading to say that the only difference is a word.  That changed 
word makes the difference in the meaning ofthe whole sentence.  However, 
if you replace "pussycat" with "tomcat," it is difficult to say what the 
difference in the two sentences is, although "bulldog" and "tomcat" are 
not the same word and certainly not even synonyms.  However, in this 
particular context, the words convey synonymous meaning vis a vis the 
pragmatics of the sentence function.

No one is naive enough to suggest that singular words do not introduce 
meaning to a given context in and of themselves.  The point simply is 
that *what* meaning a particular word brings to a particular context is 
more a function of what that context is than it is of what the word is.  
So even though "bulldog" and "tomcat" are not synonyms, they perform 
synonymous functions in the above context.

"Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana."
--Groucho Marx

Prof. James F. Sennett
Asst. Professor of Philosophy         sennett@goliath.pbac.edu
Palm Beach Atlantic College                    andretg@aol.com
PO Box 24708                             voice: (407) 835-4431
West Palm Beach, FL  33416-4708            fax: (407) 835-4342