Enrique Figueroa E. efiguero at CAPOMO.USON.MX
Wed May 7 02:51:34 UTC 1997

I didn't wish to get involved in the argument, but have suddenly felt the
urge to (though briefly, as much as I can).

Aren't we getting a bit Humboldtian here? Why speak about "a culture", as
if it were frozen in time or given once and forever? Aren't we getting
very much "weltansichtlich"?
A culture, I guess we all know, is a historical product, a neverstopping
one. Once, at a certain point in the historical development of a certain
culture, there arose the need to express a certain (probably very usuala
and socially meaningful) feeling or attitude; the need "created" the word
in that culture's language at that time. Once it came to life, people got
used to using the word, the concept became "frozen" IN THE LANGUAGE,
which by no means should be interpreted as being part of a supposedly
"frozen"culture... Neighbour cultures, by means of their languages,
borrowed the word and got more and more used to the concept, began using
it spontaneously...
Some other close-by cultures (all of these, actually, subcultures of a
macroculture), whose languages weren't very much "inclined" to compound
words, "preferred" (by "natural selection") to calque the term in a less
conspicuous, though equally effective way: [para]phrasing it!
 I can't help being reinstalled in the midst of linguistic relativism and
neohumboldtism when I see so much importance given to WORDS (i. e.,
morphology) and so little to PHRASES (i. e., to actual discourse and
These phrases, furthermore, are practically "frozen", in the language of
course: they are, in a way, part of the "lexikon" (of its phraseological
Sorry to have talked too  much.  I hope some others will pick up the
handkerchief, for I have nothing to add.

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