From: Clayton Bartholomew (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon May 12 1997 - 08:19:40 EDT
This morning I was rereading Porter's treatment of the case system
(pages 80-82, Stanely E. Porter, Idioms of the Greek New Testament,
Sheffield, second edition, 1995.). He talks about the meaning of a case
form and explains how it relates to syntax and context.
I have some problems with this analysis. First and foremost I have a
problem with the notion of a *case form* having meaning. The semantics
of cases is not in my mind a special problem. Word inflections in
general have the same sort of relationship to semantics across the
language system. Case forms can be treated like verb forms or what ever.
In my thinking the inflection of a word does not bear meaning. The
inflection is a key into a domain (paradigm) of possible meanings. Until
the inflected form appears in a context, it is an uninstantiated
variable, and it receives it's instantiation from contextual
information. Outside of the the context the inflected form is only a key
and is semantically empty.
In this way inflected forms behave much like lexical forms. A lexical
form has no meaning without a context. The lexical form is a key into a
domain (paradigm) of possible meanings. Until the lexical form appears
in a context, it is an uninstantiated variable, and it receives it's
instantiation from contextual information. Outside of the the context
the lexical form is only a key and is semantically empty.
These notions are commonplace in discussions of lexical semantics but I
rarely see them spelled out in grammars? Why not?
Now, I suspect that some of you will find fault with my analysis. If so,
tell me. I'm listening.
Three Tree Point
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