Reflections on Grammaticalization, Epiphenomena, etc....
Salinas17 at aol.com
Salinas17 at aol.com
Thu Mar 16 21:58:46 UTC 2006
In a message dated 3/15/06 2:29:27 PM, mark at polymathix.com writes:
<< Perhaps not so much to blind and protect us, but to make reality
intelligible (whatever the cost). Making reality intelligible does have the common
*side-effect* of blinding us to and protecting us from the reality (or lack
thereof) we ostensibly understand >>
On the cheery assumption that every comment is helpful, here's yet another
Is "reality intelligible" to my cat or dog? They certainly act like they
understand what's going on, sometimes, at least for their purposes -- maybe not
as much as I do, but I know some who would argue with that.
These two animals navigate about the world in what seems a relatively
rational way. They particularly know how to get me to give them food, open the door,
get the lease, liberally provide catnip and noisy toys.
Is their reality "intelligible" to them? If so, how did they do it without
human language? Or is "intelligible" in some way reserved to humans? And if
so, how is it defined so that it excludes animals? It would be circular to say
intelligible reality is reserved to language users and then say language is
what makes reality intelligible. You might as well say reality is linguistic,
which would mean my dog and cat are somehow deprived of reality.
Before the first human set foot in America, America was already there. It
already had a geological and biological history that can be read today. It was
REAL before any human ever got there. Most things are like that. They don't
depend on us to be created. If we get the odd idea that we can negotiate them
out by cognitively creating a reality without them in it, they will fall off
the shelf and hit us in the head. Just to remind us that we don't really
Language does to some degree have to be "a mirror of the world" in order for
it to make any sense. Grammar -- no matter how "correct" -- still makes
absolutely no sense if it is referring to a six foot rabbit in the room and there
is no six foot rabbit in the room.
The ultimate test, after all, of an MT machine is not whether or not we can
harmonize the corresponding switches in the heads of speakers of different
languages, but whether those speakers end up talking about the same things -- out
there, where nature seems to be impatient with "realities" that don't conform
to reality, no matter how the switches in our heads are set.
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