Re: Definitions- help!

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Aug 22 1999 - 20:05:20 EDT

At 6:09 PM -0500 8/22/99, Edward Hobbs wrote:
>Having just praised Carl Conrad unreservedly (in my resignation message),
>I then got around to reading the messages about "Definitions" of a couple
>of days ago, including Carl's cautionary message. And while I thoroughly
>agree that
> "Although the terms may
>have some distinct meaning for certain persons, it's often DIFFERENT
>meanings for DIFFERENT persons."
>I hope that
>"I don't think it is very helpful to inject these literary and philosophical
>value-judgments into a discussion of grammatical reference books or
>textbooks UNLESS, when one does so, one states clearly WHY one thinks that
>a "structuralist" or "post-modern" characterization of a grammar is a
>recommendation for it or a black mark against it. Do we really have to
>throw this sort of obscurantist description about willy-nilly?"
>was not (even in part) inspired by my message of the 12th, which used the
>term "structuralist linguistics" of Funk's and Goetchius's textbooks.
> . . .
>(Actually, I'm pretty sure Carl knew all this, and wasn't thinking of my
>post of 12 August; but I'm touchy just now. reading a message just as I am
>resigning which might be read as a complaint about the statement of facts
>in my post.)

Actually I hesitated before dispatching that message, Edward, for fear that
some might suppose I WAS referring to your description of Funk's textbook.
But I really wasn't, and I hoped nobody would imagine that I was. It seemed
to me that the discussion of these terms was focusing more on literary
criticism than on linguistics and that the discussion was creating more
confusion than it was resolving. I've quite regularly had the same feeling
when discussions of aspect have arisen on B-Greek, that different persons
are using terms in senses that haven't ever been settled by consensus.
That's too close to the Tower of Babel for my taste.

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

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