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Re: When is plural applied?

From:Philippe Caquant <herodote92@...>
Date:Thursday, April 15, 2004, 16:58
I absolutely agree. We think planet-centrically,
anthropo-centrically and ego-centrically. Because we
live on Earth and we are humans (if we except some
scientists, who have a world and a language of their
own). Our languages were made by people, living on
Earth. If someday we happen to live in another world,
or in the cosmos (where there is no gravity, for
example, thus no up and down, no weight), then surely
the language will change to reflect that new "usual"
world. But so far our languages are still human, and
earthly. We have an earthly conception of day and
night (and of "nycthemere", if that's the right
orthograph for it).

This is a permanent problem when trying to find out
the deep semantic concepts. We have a tendency to
think the scientific way, when categorizing, for ex.
For a scientist, the concept of "mammal" or
"reptilian" is something very clear and important. But
for usually people, it's not. It would rather be
"furry animal living on earth", or "animal looking
like a snake". Describing man (or rather, woman) as a
mammal would sound rather odd, and yet it is true,
from a scientific point of view. How many people would
describe a whale as a fish ? Lots of them, probably.
Where is the frontier between scientific and everyday
concepts ? It is not a clear one, for sure.

--- Amanda Babcock <ababcock@...> wrote:
> On Thu, Apr 15, 2004 at 06:52:59AM -0700, Philippe > Caquant wrote: > > > male and female. But not for day and night > (insofar we > > consider day and night as the two only > possibilities, > > and don't bother for dawns and evenings). I > thought of > > "there cannot be such thing as day if there is not > > such thing as night", because day defines night > and > > reciprocally: day is not(night), night is > not(day). In > > case of hands, it's not exactly the same: left is > > not(right) and right is not(left), but left hand > is > > not(not right hand): the concept of symetry > doesn't > > depend of hands, hands only are an example for > that > > general concept. > > Actually, the idea that day is not(night) and night > is > not(day) is very planet-centric. Offplanet, I don't > think you can say that all timespans are either day > or > night. How far away from the Sun do you have to go > before it stops being day and starts being night? > > Amanda
===== Philippe Caquant "High thoughts must have high language." (Aristophanes, Frogs) __________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! Tax Center - File online by April 15th


Herman Miller <hmiller@...>Mammal, their names are called (was Re: When is plural applied?)