Is Python the Esperanto of programming languages?
imbosol-1048365352 at aerojockey.com
Sat Mar 22 22:21:13 CET 2003
Steven Taschuk wrote:
> Quoth Carl Banks:
>> Steven Taschuk wrote:
>> > I don't, however, think that these add up to the morpheme "saying
>> > nothing".
>> Ok, let's say it means nothing in the same sense that sin x = x. How
>> about that?
> When I first read this, I was truly baffled; now I'm just unsure
> what you mean.
It means I think the ending on the verb means almost nothing, in the
same way that sin x is almost x.
>> > In my personal theory of meaning (idiosemantics?), it
>> > always means "third person singular", and its absence always means
>> > "not third person singular"; this explains why
>> > 1. The man goes to the store. is good,
>> > 2. *The man go to the store. is bad, and
>> I don't agree with the reasoning here. Things that are paradoxical or
>> nonsensical don't always sound bad, and things that sound bad are not
>> always nonsensical or paradoxical.
> Well, no. I hadn't intended to imply so general a rule.
> However, I don't see any bright line between "sounding bad" and
> "semantically incoherent". For example:
> 4a. The man goes to the store.
> b. *The man go to the store.
> 5a. John ceased to have fits of anger.
> b. *John ceased to have a fit of anger.
> 6a. That sentence is false.
> b. *This sentence is false.
> (4b) sounds bad, and is unacceptable for that reason whether the
> meaning is clear or not. (6b) sounds fine, and is unacceptable
> only for high-level semantic reasons. I borrow (5) from McCawley,
> who analyzes (5b) (and other examples) as unacceptable because
> "cease to" can be applied only to things which "can be interpreted
> as denoting a state" as opposed to an event -- a semantic
> restriction. But (5b) causes (in me) a mental hiccup that feels
> very similar to the one caused by (4b).
See, 5b is a semantic error. 4b is a morphological error.
I took your argument to be that 4b sounded wrong because the semantics
were wrong. I've been saying all along I don't even think there is a
semantic error, because the verbal ending is meaningless compared to
the subject. I think 4b sounds bad because the morphology's wrong.
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