LINGUIST List 4.859

Mon 18 Oct 1993

Disc: Pragmatics: That'll Teach You

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  1. , 4.844 That'll Teach You
  2. Logical Language Group, Re: That'll teach you
  3. , RE: 4.844 That'll Teach You

Message 1: 4.844 That'll Teach You

Date: Mon, 18 Oct 93 10:17:37 CD4.844 That'll Teach You
From: <russellukraine.corp.mot.com>
Subject: 4.844 That'll Teach You

My apologies if someone has already mentioned this, but I just noticed
another phenomenon that seems very similar to the data on "That'll
teach you..." discussed earlier.

For me at least, the following have exactly the same meaning:

 (1) I really miss having a phonologist around the house.
 (2) I really miss not having a phonologist around the house.

Both mean that I used to have a phonologist around the house, I don't
anymore, and I'm feeling the lack. (1) makes sense for that reading,
while (2) seems like an illogical way to express it. But I've heard
it frequently, and probably use it myself.

 Dale Russell
 russellukraine.corp.mot.com
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Message 2: Re: That'll teach you

Date: Mon, 18 Oct 1993 12:09:17 Re: That'll teach you
From: Logical Language Group <lojbabaccess.digex.net>
Subject: Re: That'll teach you

Paul Kershaw lists the frame "I'm having trouble with..." as showing a
paradox of negation, similar to that of "That'll teach you to...". I
ran into another over the weekend: the paradox of "...more than you can
help."

This frame is used to induce the listener to minimize some action:
"Don't shout more than you can help." The obvious analysis (informally)
is "I forbid (you shout amount X : X exceeds Y : you can avoid shouting
amount Y)". But this is wrong, because in fact Y is what you >cannot<
avoid, not what you can. So this idiomatic sentence really means
"Don't shout more than you >cannot< help shouting", but to say that would be
pedantically perverse.

Somehow, the negation that's normally associated with "X cannot help it"
("X can help it" not being an idiom at all) has gotten mixed with the
prohibition, leaving only one negation in the sentence, and that at a
paradoxical place.

Anybody have an explication of this one?

 --
John Cowan sharing account <lojbabaccess.digex.net> for now
 e'osai ko sarji la lojban.
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Message 3: RE: 4.844 That'll Teach You

Date: Mon, 18 Oct 93 10:31 GMT RE: 4.844 That'll Teach You
From: <HILTONMWESTMINSTER.AC.UK>
Subject: RE: 4.844 That'll Teach You

Re: submission Paul Kershaw, Vol 4-844

Surely the crucial distinction with

 That'll teach you to come early

Is the placement of the intonational nucleus. If placed on "That", the
implication is that coming early is not what should be done; if placed on
"ear", the implication is that coming early _is_ what should be done.
Whichever is the appropriate usage in a given context will be determined by
that context. The sentence itself is surely not ambiguous, the intonation
pattern making it clear - any variability of usage is a matter for pragmatics,
and I am not sure that it can therefore be considered as ambiguity, for to
extend ambiguity to pragmatics, it seems to me would render the concept
virtually worthless, as potentially everything - or maybe nothing! - would then
be ambiguous.

I didn't see earlier postings, so if I am repeating what others have said ...
mea culpa ...

Mark Hilton
University of Westminster
hiltonmuk.ac.westminster.mole
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