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From:  Stuart Thiessen
Date:  Wed Feb 9, 2000  4:33 pm
Subject:  Re: ...LUC...

Joe Martin wrote:

> On Tue, 8 Feb 2000, Stuart Thiessen wrote:
> > For example, an Eskimo/Inuit has multiple words for snow, each having
> > important distinctions to him. His view of the Artic tundra is vastly
> > different from mine because in the languages I know, there are no such
> > distinctions.
> > Correct me if I'm wrong, but
> ------Well, ok, since you asked :-). That isn't true. Before quoting it
> you might check out the book
> "The great Eskimo vocabulary hoax, and other irreverent essays
> on the study of language / Geoffrey K. Pullum. University of Chicago

Thanks! I hadn't heard of this book or I would have checked first. Would
know I'm wrong than to continue to be inaccurate. (SMILE)

> Still, your basic point is the Whorfian view held by Anthrolpological
> linguists, contra the Chmoskyian view held by Generativists. All this is
> interesting for lotsa people, but on the SignWriting list, let's not go
> there. (^_^) (private e-mails welcome)

Still, having said this ... Please give the list at least a brief explanation
what you mean by Whorfian versus Chmoskyian. I haven't had the opportunity to
lingustic classes in the past but I think I may know what you mean. Which do
pick? (you can reply to that last one privately if you prefer)

> As regards SignWriting, it's important that it doesn't record meanings at
> all; it only records
> the visible form of what is said, and leaves it to the individual reader
> to give it any meaning. That is what makes it "different from
> Chinese."

Precisely, because generally an writing system can only at best describe the
production of the word or the general meaning of the word itself. Meaning
the word is contextually derived from rules of grammar and discourse (anything
beyond/including a paragraph?). Or am I incorrect in saying this? (SMILE)

> ASL (an incorporating language) must have a bazillion words for snow, and
> Signwriting can record them all, but only to the extent that they are
> signed slightly different.

> One of the problems is that no one has ever defined what a word is. I
> think its nice that SW can write "I give you" or "I talked with him."
> or "Do you want it?" as one word (?), the way they are in ASL.

Well, I have always used the working definition that a word is whatever set of
morphemes that can stand together as one unit. In ASL, I-GIVE-YOU is one set of
morphemes that can stand together. But I-GIVE-YOU-MILK is not a valid set of
morphemes that can stand as one unit. MILK must stand on its own. Perhaps my
definition is naive or insufficent, but it has worked so far (I am always ready
be corrected if I'm wrong SMILE).

Thanks for the corrections!


  Replies Author Date
2787 Re: ...LUC... Joe Martin Wed  2/9/2000
2801 Writing Hearing Person's Gestures Valerie Sutton Fri  2/11/2000
2803 Re: Writing Hearing Person's Gestures Joe Martin Sat  2/12/2000

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