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22592Re: Gollum at a Wedding

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  • davise@cs.nyu.edu
    Aug 12 8:21 AM
      --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "John Davis" <john@...> wrote:
      > Ernie is referring to what the speaker is actually saying - what the statement means; whilst David is referring to the speaker's state of mind as might be inferred from the statement and by taking the statement non-literally - what the speaker means.

      Well put.

      David writes, among other things,

      > Well, they came across as incredibly cutting put-downs and I'm not
      > even the person they were addressed to. If you don't believe in
      > taking comments at face value, why did you take my essay trope that
      > way?

      I really have trouble believing that you or Carl or anyone took John Rateliff's post, "I wish he were alive and writing" as an "incredibly cutting put-down" of Carl's post "I am glad that Tolkien didn't live to see it" or even as a disagreement. If John took my post "he would now be 119, and not writing much" as an incredibly cutting putdown, I apologize to him. It was not intended at all as such; I enjoyed John's post. My point was just "Mourn not overmuch! Mighty was the fallen" and that one can hardly weep over Tolkien as an author who was cut off in his prime like Keats or Austen. In your second post in this thread, you agreed with that.

      Of course I recognized the essay trope; I deliberately misinterpreted it. The rhetorical device in all three responses is the same: To deliberately misinterpret the previous statement in order to make a tangential point. E.g. "What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature!" "Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand."
      Or "Goodness, what a lovely mink!" "Goodness had nothing to do with it." Or "It is very vulgar to talk like a dentist when one isn't a dentist. It produces a false impression." "Well that is exactly what dentists always do." Perhaps it is not the best device to use in online discussion. Apparently it is open to misunderstanding and hard feelings. I will try to avoid it in future.

      Wendell raises the issue of the Gricean maxims. I don't know the linguistic/philosophical side well, but on the artificial intelligence side, this kind of inference is very important for automated dialogue understanding. Grice's article is one of the seminal works in the area, and his categories are very important, though a lot has to be done to turn them into usable rules.

      -- Ernie
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