re: Fundamentally flawed

From: Richard Lindeman (
Date: Sat Mar 21 1998 - 19:12:15 EST

>>So then, if we view context as the undercurrent of language... then
>>voice, mood, aktionsart, aspect, and everything else that we understand
>>about syntax... and also morphology, are all derivatives of context. In
>>fact, we probably would be better off to define them all with *contextual
>>terminology*. Then we we might actually be able to see better how they
>>really do interact with each other in dealing with context.

>This sounds like Porter. The problem is, "context" is built from "tense,
>voice, mood, aktionsart, aspect, and everything else that we understand
>about syntax". If there is nothing that can be said about the primitives
>from which the context is built, there is also little that can be said
>about context.

Sorry... I haven't ever read Porter so I can't comment on this book either.
:-[ But if he agrees with me, then I agree with him :-]

>I do not think it is possible to discuss a verse by appealing to context
>alone, without discussing the meanings of words and grammatical
>constructions. Whatever we want to say about the context, we have to look
>at more concrete things in order to say it.

Let me try to explain where I am coming from on this. Language is
essentially the communication of a message from one person to another
person... Yes, of course there is all kinds of context before a message
is ever spoken or written using such things as tense, voice, mood,
aktionsart, aspect, etc... There is the context of the speaker and the
hearer. In addition to this there is the context of the location where
communication is taking place. There is the context of situation. There is
the context of the medium of communication. There is the context of
feelings and moods. There is the context of thought. And when the
rudiments of basic communication begin to take place I believe that each one
of these elements of communication add even more context to the picture.
For no matter how developed the language becomes, the elements of language
impose both new freedoms and new limitations upon communication. Consider an
infant. Even when an infant first begins to communicate with its parents.
Even if the communication only consists of a smile or a giggle there is
context to it. And when childs diaper is filled this gives context to
another kind of communication. Language was added because from earliest
times we found ourselves in contexts within which we yearned to communicate
with each other.

Of course I am in no way suggesting that we appeal only to context and
ignore the primitives upon which language then is constructed. But to
understand the primitives themselves and how they inter-relate with each
other, we must first understand that the primitives themselves were built
because of and upon the foundation of context.


Rich Lindeman

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