Date: Sun, 4 Feb 1996 09:22:42 -0500 From: "Dennis R. Preston" Subject: Re: knife & fork Of course, I am just a hillbilly boy, but I did mean the proverb in its traditional sense (in which 'prove' = 'test'). I thought the context of my remarks would have made it clear that that was my meaning. Why David Bergdahl finds the 'English' sense of 'prove' inapprpriate is a mystery to me since even my Webster's 9th Collegiate (the closest to hand) offers (with no 'archaic' label) senses 2 a and b as ones which mean to 'test' (specifically, 'to test the truth, validity, or genuineness of'). I agree with him, however, that it is indeed interesting to study what it is people mean by this proverb when they take 'prove' to mean 'establish the existence, truth, or validity of.' Or at least I think I agree. He seems to suggest that users who have what he calls the 'English' meaning here use this (and other such items) 'as if they meant something.' He apparently distrusts the folk mind a great deal more than I do. I am sure people who have the 'English' sense of 'prove' mean 'something' when they use the proverb. What they mean is a matter for empirical investigation. (Why am I blathering about the fact that it is interesting to find out why people use language the way they do? What is the ADS about? What is linguistics? The breakfast hot sauce has gone to my brian.) Sorry, Dennis PS: The reference David suggests is R. Jakobson, Closing Statement: Linguistics and Poetics, T. A. Sebeok (ed.) Style in Language, MIT Press, 1960, pp. 350-377. The reference to such preferences is on 356-7, although it refers only to number of syllables and only to conjoined 'names' (Joan and Margery). > Ohio University Electronic Communication > > > Date: 03-Feb-1996 10:16am EST > > To: Remote Addressee ( _MX%"ADS-L[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UGA.CC.UGA.EDU ) > > From: David Bergdahl Dept: English > BERGDAHL Tel No: (614) 593-2783 > >Subject: knife & fork > > >Although haj Ross may have extended the analysis, the first discussion of such >matters was Roman Jacobson's concluding remarks to the Indiana Univ conference >on Linguistics and Literature, the papers to which were edited by Sebeok. I >think the conference was in 1958; the essay is widely reprinted in stylistics >collections. > >On "I think the exceptions only prove but do not destroy the rule": in the >original French of this maxim, PROUVER [= to test], the maxim is true; when the >English PROVE is substituted in the translation, it is obviously false. When >we're done with the repetitions of words frozen in form as the result of a >rhyme >or the use in a proverbial saying, maybe we can discuss counterfactual >generalizations such as this which are repeated time and again as if they meant >something. > >BERGDAHL[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]OUVAXA.CATS.OHIOU.EDU > David Bergdahl > Ohio University/Athens > "Where Appalachia meets the Midwest"--Anya Briggs > > > > >Received: 03-Feb-1996 10:24am Dennis R. Preston Department of Linguistics and Languages Michigan State University East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] Office: (517)432-1235 Fax: (517)432-2736