Re: semantics vs. pragmatics

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Mar 18 1998 - 06:46:52 EST

At 12:02 PM -0600 3/17/98, clayton stirling bartholomew wrote:
>Mari Broman Olsen wrote:
>> Words DO have meaning outside of context, else we could all be Humpty
>> Dumpty.
>Actually, I was about to cite Humpty Dumpty as an authority for my view but I
>could not remember if he said this or the Rabbit.

My favorite is:

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it
means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many
different things."
"The question is," said, Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master -- that's all!"
Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty
Dumpty began again. "They've a temper, some of them -- particularly verbs:
they're the proudest - adjectives you can do anything with, but verbs - ;
however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That's what
I say!"
                Lewis Caroll, Through the Looking Glass

Is that the passage you're thinking of, Clay?

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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