Dialogue, language, learning LO25314

From: Don Dwiggins (d.l.dwiggins@computer.org)
Date: 09/11/00

Replying to LO25284 --

In LO25284 At writes:
> It is only when I had to study physics at university and had to solve
> equations of motion involving time that my thoughts on these time markers
> in my mother tongue began to take shape. The "toe" and "so" have their
> counterpart in physics, usually symbolised by
> t(0)
> called the reference point in time.

Toe, the logician J. L. Kuhns writes a paper giving a nice analysis of
tenses in terms of three points in time: the time of the speech act (S),
the time of the action or event (T), and a "reference time" (R). The
tenses can be represented by order relations among the three, for example:

S = T = R: simple present
T = R < S: simple past
T < R < S: past perfect

etc. It sounds to me as if "toe" and "so" do the work of R in the past
and future, respectively.

> Is it not tragic how we can destroy the most valuable assets we have just
> to conform to what seems to be more respectable?

So, which is more respectable: a language that handles tenses using a
clear, spare, logical mechanism, or one that uses excessively complex
structures and vocabulary?

> Here is a question. Can a written dialogue be the same as a spoken
> dialogue?

There's an old (probably apocryphal) story that, in the French parliament,
a speaker in the heat of an argument said "After all, there's very little
difference between men and women!", to which the entire body replied in
one voice, "Vive la difference!" That's my initial reaction to the
question, expressing a feeling that written language adds an essential
richness to dialogue, without in any way diminishing the value of spoken
language. My next reaction is that At's recent discourses on the history
of languages, with the frequent cross-effects of spoken and written
languages -- on each other, on culture, and on the spiritual and material
wealth of the people -- says a lot more to this question than I can offer.

Best regards to all fellow learners,


Don Dwiggins I know you believe you understand SEI Information Technology what you think I said, d.l.dwiggins@computer.org but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard was not what I meant. -- S.I. Hiyakawa

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