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(not really "Re: Anti-telic?:" any longer)

From:Eldin Raigmore <eldin_raigmore@...>
Date:Wednesday, July 12, 2006, 20:28
Hi, Ray.  I hope you and yours are well.

On Tue, 11 Jul 2006 13:01:44 +0100, R A Brown <ray@...>

>Kalle Bergman wrote: >>>But can _anything_ continue indefinitely in a >>>temporal universe? >>Is this a relevant question? > >Yes, as I see it.
I both think the question was relevant, and would "answer" it "why not?". (I realize "why not?" is really another question, not an answer.)
>telic = having a goal which bring the activity, event, circumstance etc >to an end >atelic = an activity, event, circumstance etc which has no >_recognizable_ goal which will bring this to an end.
Read my understanding of Comrie's explanation on list in my post with the subject line "Gnomic vs eternal, and telic vs atelic" (or something like that).
>Thus events, activities, circumstances etc etc which
>go on for ever >are atelic. But to designate another category, 'anti-telic', as one >which *must* go on for ever,
My proposed meaning of the "anti-telic" as that which is un-interruptible would apply not only to the situation having no end in the future and/or no beginning in the past, but also no hiccups or bumps or hiatuses along the way.
>presumably with definitely no goal (whether >we can recognize it or not) does seem to me to pose a picture of the >universe which is not generally shared AFAIK.
Well, it's not generally shared, but there's a largish and international school of thought that way, if by "goal" you mean what's usually meant. The school is (sometimes at least) called "Futilitarianism". This is a joke name, of course, along the lines of "Utilitarianism". It postulates that existence has no purpose. There may have been, and FAIK may now be, cultures in which this is the majority attitude. But of course it is _not_ the majority attitude of any religion I am familiar with; not even of Marxism.
>>After all, the structure of a language is not a >>vehicle for metaphysical analysis.
It probably isn't _designed_ to be such a vehicle (exceptions may be certain loglangs and such languages as Ithkuil); it may not be _primarily_ such a vehicle; but why would you say it's _not_ such a vehicle? Metaphysical analysis is communicated from one "analyst" to another via language, and the structure of the language is vitally necessary for that communication. I have even read metaphysical writing that analyzed "thing" as "th"+"ing" where "ing" is the English morpheme for present (or active) participle or present progressive tense/aspect. (To be fair, I have to admit that, once I've understood the definitions of the terms "metaphysics" and "ontology", the subjects leave me cold. Epistemology, on the other hand, I like and understand. And "evidentials are the linguistic encoding of epistemology", so "they" say.)
>>Any language can >>express an infinite number of metaphysically or >>logically absurd statements (colorless green >>ideas...).
>That is the deliberate juxtaposition of semantic elements in a way which >we _know_ does not make sense.
Yes, it is. So? I don't see why either of you is wrong. I don't see why your(pl.) replies to each other contradict each other's earlier remarks. Is it possible that I am missing your(pl.) point(s) -- that you(pl.) don't believe you(pl.) are disagreeing with each other? Because I think I agree with both of you, and I don't feel any "cognitive dissonance" in so doing.
>>Furthermore, what is "indefinite" in an everyday sense >>need not be the same as in the strict sense. When I >>say "they're going to go on dating indefinitely", I >>don't literally mean that they'll date _'til the end >>of the universe_. > >Sigh - I sort of *know* that!! But please tell me in what way "they're >going to go on dating indefinitely" is *not* atelic.
That's a hard one, for me. If they stop dating, then "they're going to go on dating indefinitely" has ceased to be true. Would that make it "telic" by Comrie's definition? I think maybe not. I think "indefinitely" simply means that, at the time of speaking, the speaker doesn't predict when they'll stop dating, nor even that they necessarily ever will stop. That would make that statement more like the atelic "I swam around for a while" than like the telic "I swam across the English Channel". So the question is; while we can agree that "They're going to go on dating for a while" is atelic -- it isn't falsified unless they stop dating _immediately_ -- it is harder to recognize "they're going to go on dating indefinitely" as atelic; it might be considered falsified if they stop dating at any time in the nearish future.
>The point I was trying, obviously unsuccessfully, to make is that I >cannot see how a category 'anti-telic' makes sense in a natlang.
It's different to say that one can't see enough use for such a category to predict that any natlang would actually have it, than to say that one can't see any use for it at all. I can't guess an answer to _either_ of those questions. I think you are guessing that such a category wouldn't see enough use to actually become grammatical and/or morphological in any natlang. Such a guess seems perfectly reasonably to me, as a hypothesis; I don't know how one would go about gathering evidence for or against it. But are you, instead, hypothesizing that such a category _couldn't_ be incorporated in a natlang? Because if so, the way to test it would be to try to design an engelang that included such a category, and show that no such engelang can be designed so as to be speakable, understandable, and learnable.
>>I could imagine that the "antitelic" would fill the >>role which is, in english, filled by the adverb, well, >>"indefinitely". > >No, it does not. >"Indefinite"
"indefinitely", that is.
>is not AFAIK synonymous with "*must* go on >for ever."
That's what I thought, too. I don't think English is Kalle Bergman's L1?
>surely means that there is no goal, that we know >of, that will bring their dating to an end and that it will go on, sort >of, indefinitely
Yes, definitelyyletinifed surely. (I don't know if that joke is going to come across.)
>- i.e. atelic.
For a certain sense of "atelic", obviously. For Comrie's sense, not so obviously, but IMO still so.
>Sai Emrys wrote: >>On 7/11/06, R A Brown <ray@...> wrote: >>>But can _anything_ continue indefinitely in a temporal universe? >>Hey mon, that's your belief system. > >Not just mine.
No, not just yours.
>AFAIK it's the opinion of modern science
AFAIK you're right.
>& has been a widely held belief for millennia.
Widely held, yes; universally held, no. In fact there have been times when 'the opinion of [then-]"modern" science' was that the universe had no beginning and/or would have no end. Sometimes this/these opinion(s) had time as a straight line and sometimes as a circle. There is no _mathematical_ nor _logical_ reason why the universe had to have a beginning; if it did, there is no _mathematical_ nor _logical_ reason why it had to have _only_ _one_ beginning. The same is true of the end of the universe. If there are reasons why the universe had to have a unique beginning, they are physical, not logical. As the physical evidence has changed, the accepted theory on this issue has also changed. Even now, there is serious work on the theory that the "Big Bang" was like the narrow point of an hour-glass -- that the reason the universe as it now exists is so uniform, even across distances that can't be covered at slower than the speed of light during times on the order of the current "age" of the universe, is that its parts had all that "time" "before" the Big Crunch/Big Bang to "communicate" with one another. Not that these theorists necessarily believe they have _proof_ of such a theory; just that the view Andreas presented is not regarded as set in concrete and carved in stone by modern cosmologists.
>Which is, maybe, why it hasn't figured >in natlang grammar.
1) Do we know for a fact that it _hasn't_ figured in natlang grammar? 2) If so, how would we figure out whether this is the reason? [snip]
>In any case telicity is surely to do with _aspect_, not tense.
More aktionsart than aspect? IIUC.
>If one is >to posit a third degree of telicity, i.e. 'anti-telic', then this must >surely denote an event, action, circumstance or whatever that:
>1. (in your own words) "not just doesn't have a *necessary* >endpoint, or *can* continue indefinitely, but *must* continue >indefinitely"
What he said.
>2. and, as a corollary, that does not just have no recognizable goal but >*must have no possible goal* which could ever bring the event, action, >circumstance to an end.
This either requires a rather specialized definition of "goal"; or it's you transforming Trask's definitions of "telic" and "atelic", to what you think he might have defined "anti-telic" as (if he'd ever felt the need to do that), and then inserting this into Sai's remarks. If the former; I think we need to know that "goal", used here, is not _exactly_ and _only_ what is meant by "goal" in its usual uses. If the latter; in spite of what you say below,
>As far as I can see, unless both conditions are met, the action, event, >circumstance etc is atelic.
I don't think _both_ conditions are necessary unless Sai agrees that your second condition should be part of, or a consequence of, his definition of "anti-telic".
>>>>Any natlang or conlang examples of this? >>>Indeed.
I know of none.
>>>I cannot see that it is possible.
I can. I can (with, perhaps, too much difficulty) think of a few (perhaps too few) remarks that could naturally be in such an aktionsart if it were available in the language. Then the problem would be imagining that such remarks were sufficiently frequent to make it useful and worthwhile for the language to develop grammar and/or morphology to support this distinction. The latter part, IMO, is likelier for a conworld/conculture/conlang than for a natlang.
>>Surely you can see it grammatically?
I don't understand Sai's question here. What does he mean "grammatically"?
>No, otherwise I would not have questioned it.
I suppose 99% of the reason I don't understand your answer is that I didn't understand Sai's question.
>>E.g. [roughly] "the universe exists" is probably anti-telic... > >Only if you believe
Actually, only if _the_ _speaker_ believes etc.
>that there definitely is no goal which can possibly >bring the universe to an end and that it must necessarily go on for ever >and ever and ever..........
If one adopts the "Quantum Loop Gravity Theory" (rather than the "String Theory"), space and time are quantized. IIRC a quantum of distance is about 10^-33 centimeters and a quantum of time is about 10^-43 seconds. "In between" "quantum ticks", the universe does _not_ exist. Its existence is interruptable, and interrupted, both temporally and spatially. If one adopts such a theory, is "the universe exists" _really_ "anti-telic"?
>And that is foisting one's belief system onto grammar ;)
I think the lesson may be that whether a given utterance is telic or atelic (or anti-telic if there is such a thing) partly depends on the mental state of the speaker of that utterance. [snip]
>But I would need to see a clear, unambiguous example of an 'anti-telic' >event/circumstance/action,
I'd love to see one, too.
>*which is clearly independent of anyone's belief system*,
I'm beginning to doubt _that_ requirement is possible to satisfy.
>in the 'real' world
I'd be happy to see one in a conworld. Of course I'd rather see one in the 'real' world.
>before being convinced that the >division of telicity into telic ~ atelic needs to be amended. >-- >Ray
----- Thanks, Ray, Kalle, and Sai. eldin


Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>