Date: Sat, 15 Nov 1997 22:14:43 -0600


Subject: Re: one as a pronoun?

DL writes:

... words ... in the final analysis

are merely oscillations of molecules

in a sound medium or marks on

flattish surfaces

RB writes

Another way of looking at it (which I prefer) is that "in the final

analysis" words are mental representations in the minds of speakers of a

language--representations that link sound, grammar, and meaning. Why

emphasize phonologgy/orthography and ignore morphology, syntax, and meaning?

If there is no mind available to process the sound waves, what exists is

what I referred to. You're quite right, of course. I was intentionally

taking an extreme view. What if a lip-reading hearing-impaired or

non-hearing person processes the words that someone has said? And what if

a non-hearing person constructs words to be able to write down the content

of information received through signing? And there are many other what-if

(im)ponderables. In an oral interchange (or even written interchange) what

is the locus of 'the' or 'mountain' or 'say' as a word? It is likely that

somewhat or slightly different neural complexes "light up" in the brains of

producers and receivers as words are "interchanged," so where does that

leave us? Communing with angels on the head of a pin?