Brief language-related notes

1.  解剖学 means, to my knowledge “anatomy” in Chinese; 解剖 is simply “dissection”.  Does that not, then, suggest the scope of anatomy to be horribly limited?

2.  When one says “By first word, I mean second word,” should either of the words be placed in quotation marks?  I am firmly convinced that the first should be, as it is quoting something that was stated; is the second to be surrounded by them?  It theoretically states what the person wished to say, and suggests what might be said in future; furthermore, it seeks to make the first fragment more understandable by paraphrasing it, so it could also represent how others would output that thought.

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6 Responses to Brief language-related notes

  1. Daniel Ernston says:

    2. I’d put both of them in quotes, as you’re referencing the words, not what the words mean.

  2. Theo says:

    Well, since I am out of my depth in the first one, I’ll tackle the second.

    If I think about what it entail when programming. I’m using lisp, since it makes the difference between a symbol and it’s value more important than in languages like C, where you would use pointers to do the same thing, but with symbols meaning the pointers and it’s more complicated. ‘foo is shorthand for (quote foo), and ‘(a b c) is (list ‘a ‘b ‘c).

    (replace ‘cat ‘dog ‘(the cat is cute))
    on a symbol by symbol basis, having two sets of quotation marks would make sense.

    But it is only necessary to quote the symbols because they might mean something other than themselves. Numbers don’t have this problem, so we can say
    (replace 42 6.283185 ‘(the answer to life the universe and everything is 42))
    without the quotes and it would work fine.

    This is all assuming that `replace` is defined as a function, in a definition such as
    (define (replace x y words)
    (if (null words) ‘()
    (if (eq (car words) x
    (cons y (replace x y (cdr words)))
    (cons (car words) (replace x y (cdr words))))))

    However, if replace was defined as a macro, then you would be able to drop the quotes, and (replace cat dog ‘(the cat is cute)) would work as expected. I’m not sure if you would consider it correct to treat any part of english as a macro however.

    • Sophia says:

      Haha, I wouldn’t stray towards a macro, but yes – the former was my point. Both objects are symbols of human thought, not the thoughts (or absolute meanings) themselves.

  3. nao says:

    I would put the first word in quotes, and the second without, because you are using metalanguage to discuss an object. First word would be in quotes because you are not referring to the meaning of first word, only the word itself, the label. Then you are clarifying where that label is pointing, to what actual meaning you intend it to refer to.

    We discussed this in my semantics class, actually. I think you would’ve enjoyed that course a lot.

    • Sophia says:

      Right, I’d thought similarly, but isn’t the second word still a label by dint of the fact that you are simply renaming it with a more instantly recognizable term? What bothers me, too, is that you’re not referring precisely to your thought – you’re speaking of how you would have worded it, and are thus manufacturing a quotation, which would require the punctuation.

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