[b-greek] Re: Semantic Minimalism?

From: Mike Sangrey (mike@sojurn.lns.pa.us)
Date: Sun Jun 25 2000 - 19:27:56 EDT

c.s.bartholomew@worldnet.att.net said:
> Semantic Minimalism:
> ***** The semantic contribution of any constituent to its context will
> be the LEAST required by that context. *****

> This applies to all kinds of constituents, not just words but also
> markers for case, aspect, number, time, person, etc. and at higher
> level phrase, clause and paragraph level constituents.

> This principle seems to be well understood by some people in the realm
> of lexical semantics but then they seem to completely forget it when
> the get into the semantics of the case system or the verb aspectual
> system or when discussing the used of relational words like
> prepositions, particles, etc.

Would 'pun' be a counter-example to Semantic Minimalism? It seems to me,
though I do not have any examples ready at hand, that a context which turned
on a hinge-pin of a pun would make this axiom not quite a silver bullet.
Perhaps I don't quite understand the concept.

I also think of semantically, highly packed statements; though these might
suffer from our inability to understand the context and therefore not be able
to unpack the rich meaning from what appears to be a rather terse phrase or

I ask, NOT to intend to disparage the contribution such an axiom makes (or
might make if given full opportunity). Frankly I agree with your assessment
of the status quo. IMO, much dis-service to the Word of God has occurred in
the name of "comparing Scripture with Scripture". That is, we bring baggage
into a text from all over the place, even from Scripture itself. A minimalist
approach would be more prudent.

I'm reminded of a most dear and departed friend of mine who found himself on
the loosing end of a 'you got to take the Bible literally discussion.' The
other person said, "The Bible means what it says." It was only later that my
friend realized, and I quote, "The Bible doesn't mean what it says, it means
what it means."

Anyway, FWIS, perhaps "Semantic Precisionism" might be a better term.

Thanks Clay!
Mike Sangrey
Landisburg, Pa.
       Every Christian library should have a plaque which states:
            "There is one book which explains all of these."

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