RE: Lexical Semantics & Cutltural Context

From: Clayton Bartholomew (
Date: Wed May 14 1997 - 04:46:01 EDT

Response to Rolf Furuli

I would like to thank Rolf for an excellent and thoughtful response. I
find almost nothing here to disagree with.

I might clear up several minor misunderstandings caused by my sloppy
presentation of the subject.

As to being a disciple of Chompsky and Nida; no to both. I have never
been excited about the dynamic equivalence translation methodology
because I have never accepted the *deep structure/surface structure*
scheme of analysis that it is founded on. A lot of flack has been
directed at Chompsky and I think he deserved all of it. If I adhere to
any identifiable linguistic school of thought (questionable) it is
pre-Chompsky. Some sort of structuralism I suppose.

My notion of *context* includes elements in the communication situation
*outside* of the text. I have no problem with mental lexicons.

Rolf wrote:
There is much evidence showing that information is stored in our mind,
not as clauses or contexts, but as words or concepts. True, these
concepts have fuzzy edges, but they are clearly distinguishable, and
psycholinguists even speak of a "mental lexicon". This suggests that
words/concepts have independent meaning without contexts.

This statement has only one flaw, the last two words *without contexts*
uses the word context in such a restricted way as to eliminate all of
culture from the discussion. In my thinking the culture provides
*context* for a word in a discourse. The mental lexicon is nothing more
than the cultural context stored in the mind of the language user.

However, the mental lexicons of Peter and Paul are not very accessible
to us. While interpreting an ancient text the culture is often a
difficult factor to weigh, so the immediate textual context plays the
major role in exegesis. I don't think Rolf would disagree with this.

Thanks again to Rolf for his thoughtful response.

Now several others have jumped on me about my views on lexical semantics
and if my memory serves me correctly that is not what I was pressing in
my original post. My views on lexical semantics are not at all
interesting because they are common fare.

My original post used lexical semantics only as an analogy to raise
questions about the relationship between *word inflections* and
*syntactic functions*. This is the topic under discussion. Does anyone
want to review the original post and respond to this issue?

Clay Bartholomew
Three Tree Point

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