LINGUIST List 15.1709

Thu Jun 3 2004

Qs: Radical Interpretation; Discourse/Web

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  1. James Young, Radical Interpretation
  2. Jane Faerber, Discourse Communities on websites

Message 1: Radical Interpretation

Date: Fri, 28 May 2004 18:45:51 -0400 (EDT)
From: James Young <>
Subject: Radical Interpretation

I am a philosopher of language interested in whether what philosophers
have said about radical interpretation bears any relation to
reality. W.V. Quine and Donald Davidson have told an a priori story
about how radical interpretation -- the interpretation of completely
unknown languages -- must take place. This is the sort of
interpretation that would occur should a field linguish parachute into
a jungle and find speakers of a language completely unknown to
speakers of another language. This sort of radical interpreation has
taken place: it took place when Europeans reached Australia and North

Does anyone know of any literature by linguists or enthographers on
what actually occurs when speakers of alien tongues first come into
contact with each other? Perhaps early European explorers left a

Any assistance would be much appreciated. Replies to James Young
( Thank you in advance.
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Message 2: Discourse Communities on websites

Date: Wed, 2 Jun 2004 10:38:47 -0400 (EDT)
From: Jane Faerber <>
Subject: Discourse Communities on websites

Hello !

Can anybody help me with ideas to relevant theory on the nature of
discourse communities? I'm particularly interested in how novices
succeed or fail to become an integrated member of the community in
question. Even though this might be a sociological matter, I'm
thinking there must linguistic elements to help that process too.

My research concerns discourse communities on corporate websites and
how the company, as the sender, communicates this community to the
user of the site. The idea is that the user is the novice who wishes
to become a member of the discourse community and the question is
whether the company allows that or not.

Also, corporate websites often have photos to follow testimonials of
current employees. I'm therefore searching for theories on the
persuasive character of photos as well.

Thanks for your time.

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