[hist-analytic] Deliberation and Grammar

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Fri Jul 10 21:17:13 EDT 2009

In a message dated 7/10/2009 8:22:52 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
Baynesr at comcast.net writes:
You can utter sounds some of which resemble  morphemes, but you can't
*say* anything. Even the finest mind has nothing to  say in uttering 
'karulise elatically pirots karlize elatically'. So the  quoted sentence 
above is false. 


I see your point. And it's  indeed a good, conservative (Grice referred 
himself as 'irreverent dissenting  conservative' I think in googlebooks, "Reply 
to Richards") use of  'say'.

Cf. dicere in Latin, or 'dire' in French.

"I  say!"

It is a good sense of 'say' that sticks to the meaningful. There  should be 
another word for the meaningless utterance of morpheme-like things. I  was 
told that 'go' may be such a word.
As when the Valley  Girls go, "And then she went, 'oh no', and I go, 'yes', 
and we go, 'no'". "go"  seems like 'say' = utter.

My obscure comment on "You're the cream in my  coffee" was meant as a type 
of metaphor (discussed by Grice)

(By uttering  "you're the cream in my coffee" I say 'You are the cream in 
my coffee' but I  mean, 'you are my pride and joy' and thus that's what I 
_ultimately_  *say*).


I think Aristotle was possibly right when he limited  a grammatically 
well-formed expression of a deliberation as  'grammar-constrained'.

The example I used to quote  was,

"Ask  for the moon"

Can I ask for the moon? "Don't ask for the moon". 
Can  you intend to fly? Don't intend to fly.
So Aristotle is right in that only  the rightly formulated deliberations 
should be the serious ones. This is not  just a game! Even if Grice called it 
the PlayGroup.

There is an  interesting paper by Wiggins on this, "Deliberation", which is 
indeed the  BOULESIS of Aristotle, hence the boulomaic!

--- "Grammar" Bayne knows it  all -- and he mentions Chomsky-Halle 
features. I sometimes wonder if the  playgroupers (within which we may include 
Anscombe) were using 'grammar' alla  Chomsky. 
I do know that Austin was fascinated by Syntactic Structures and  they read 
it on the Saturday Morning meetings with Grice et al (Hampshire  perhaps).

Incidentally, I often wonder if 'well-formed formula' is not a  redundancy. 
Not that I won't utter a redundancy (:)), but ... It seems that if  it's 
not well-formed it's NOT a formula. 

Grice here refers to 'sentence'  as a value-oriented notion. There are no 
good or bad sentences. Just sentences.  "Sentence" itself includes its own 
method of evaulation.

The problem with  narrowing down the deliberation to the grammar could be: 
poets: can't they  deliberate poetically?
Let's deliberate if colourless green ideas HAVE to  sleep furiously.
I was recently arguing that indeed colourless green ideas  _don't_ sleep 
furiously (I.e. the negation of nonsense is TRUE -- and  'colourless green 
ideas sleep furiously' -- SEMANTIC nonsense rather than  syntactic humbug -- is 
If it means drab immature ideas should be  latent in the mind of people but 
ready to outburst it makes a lot of sense and I  apologize!
What I like about Aristole is that he seems to narrow down  'deliberation' 
to yourself -- it would be even ill-formed to say, "Let's  deliberate if it 
rains in Australia" "Let's deliberate if Pinochet should be  brought back to 
Chile" (that latter does make sense, since surely it's not up to  
It always fascinates me that "let's" is so no Romance. We do use  the first 
person plural optative. "LET US" play in the park sounds rather clumsy  
translated word by word. "YOU" let us play?
And I always loved Noel Coward's  song negating a 'let's': "Don't let's be 
beastly to the Germans!"

Cheers,  and Good Night!

JL Speranza
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