the meaning of "sense"

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Thu Feb 10 16:45:47 UTC 2000

In a message dated 2/9/2000 1:54:53 PM, Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM writes:

<< I'm not comfortable with saying this [i.e., 'day concerning hair'] is a
*sense* of "hair day". >>

There is nothing unusual about labeling 'Noun2 with respect to Noun1' a
"sense" of the construction "Noun1+Noun2". Granted that noun-noun
constructions are the semantically complex, even so the number of basic
construable readings is certainly finite and broadly predictable. Obviously,
context helps us flesh out the specifics of 'concerning': for a person who
cuts hair for a living, every working day is a "hair day," and some of them
may be bad and some of them may be good.  (It would be unlikely (though not
impossible) that such a worker might schedule "bad-hair days" which he or she
would devote solely to assisting people with "bad hair.") If a "hat day" is
the day on which hats are to be worn, a "hair day" would be the day on which
hair is to be the only thing on one's head. Suppose one has a sexual fetish
for two things: hair and leather. On leather days one would be inclined to
indulge one's leather fetish; on hair days one would be inclined to indulge
one's hair fetish.

The fact that Mark was unable to imagine a specific sense for "hair day" is
scarcely grounds for denying that there is a general "sense" for "hair day"
from which a number of specific senses could be derived.

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