[b-greek] Re: Prototype theory

From: Mark Wilson (emory2oo2@hotmail.com)
Date: Wed Mar 07 2001 - 16:44:19 EST

Kimmo wrote:

>Yes, semantics and pragmatics are two different things, but their
>distinction is not clear cut (or if it is made to be discrete, it is
>arbitrary), though sometimes practical and real. Linguists differ in how
>much they want to ascribe to semantics and how much to pragmatics. I
>prefer putting more on the semantics side, because theories of
>pragmatics do not really deal with conventionalized uses, but those are
>easily dealt with in semantics.

A light went off when I read that phrase "conventionalized uses." That is
essentially the driving force behind Prototype Theory, right? That IS

Are you saying that one should go about learning a language by examining the
language's conventionalized uses? If so, I think Wallace and Fanning follow
this model more closely than Porter. What this has done for me has been to
expose the presuppositions behind the Wallace/Fanning versus Porter debates.

Wallace/Fanning appear to give far more weight to conventionalized use, and
Porter gives "much more" weight to unconventionalized uses. Would this be a
fair assessment? (This is not to imply that one side is right and the other

Also, Alan Thomas' insight into not "disecting grammatical units" was most
helpful to me, especially how this affects Wallace on gnomic aorists.
Wallace, I assume Alan would say, cuts up a propositional level UNIT, and
perhaps, in this instance, an unconventionalized use, into parts that can
not be separated from the whole. To examine the letters c, a, and t really
are unrelated to "cat." And to disect "the," "below," and "place," in order
to examine how an adverb functions INSIDE this indivisible UNIT, seems like
disecting an unconventional phrase unit into parts that make no sense

Am I getting any of this?

Mark Wilson
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