[hist-analytic] Haas on meaning and translation
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Mon Sep 28 11:56:49 EDT 2009
In a message dated 9/25/2009 5:28:07 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
rbj at rbjones.com writes:
it is possible that some sentence may have a translation
which has the same number of words, so we might then imagine
incorrectly that the number of words in the sentence is part
of its meaning.
For something to be part of the meaning it would have to be
common to all translations, and that would probably have to
include into possible languages as well as actual languages.
However, this seems to me to be less profound (or useful)
than you might imagine.
Its really just an odd way of saying that translation is
a mapping between languages which preserves meaning.
Neither of these ways of talking about the relationship
between meaing and translation really helps a great deal
in understanding semantics.
----- I don't have the reference to hand, but I recall from browing (even
reading, bah) Parkinson, The Theories of Meaning (Warnock, Readers in
Philosophy, Oxford) that there is this essay (possibly PAS symposium with at
least Haas, from Manchester) on translation and meaning, which I found naive in
a Mancunian sort of way.
R. B. Jones is right about possibly more than just meaning that two
utterances share. Also we should consider what Grice jocularly calls timeless
meaning (a category mistake if ever there was one, as if meaning and time would
overlap!). It's only with timeless meaning of a TYPE that perhaps Russell
was interested in.
In meaning of utterer's tokens, surely elements which are not part of what
is meant timelessly may and should be kept in translation. I'm speaking
loosely --. I recall a conference I gave in Buenos Aires.
"I haven't been mugged yet"
(Searle was in attendance). My point was that that possibly means, "Buenos
Aires is not as not dangerous as you may think it should be):
At the congress:
How do you like Buenos Aires?
Oh, it's fantastic; the architecture is so palladial, the people are
friendly in a sort of soft Italian way, and I haven't been mugged yet.
Provided there IS an implicature to that (Alchourron, who attended the
conference, denied that: Having been exiled in Stockholm for ages, he added,
"Then you CAN always get mugged in Stockholm, too"), we would have:
"I haven't been mugged yet" ---> "Buenos Aires is potentially
Cfr. Grice, "He hasn't been to prison yet"
A: How is Smith getting on in his new job at the bank?
B: Oh, just fine; he likes his colleagues and he hasn't been to prison yet
(Smith is potentially dishonest, but aren't we all? -- cfr. This glass
is breakable as funkily dispositional).
Now, suppose we translate "I haven't been mugged" to Japanese. If we FAIL
to convey the implicature, then just fine, for it's not part of the meaning.
In a serious lecture at Yale I attended with Tim Williamson on philosophy
of language, I was amused that he dedicated the whole appointed time to the
semantic of pejoratives (what he called 'colouring'). "Bog" is a word I
think he used. Cfr. Frege was a Hun.
has possibly some derogatory side to it. For one, Germans are NOT Huns. Now
if we get that into Japanese as a clean translation of "Frege is a German"
without the derogatory side to it, it's translation getting lost with the
baby in the tub water, as the Anglo says.
People tell me, "You should get offended by Brits calling Argentines
argies", but forgive me, I don't! I just see it as an affectionate diminutive
(cfr. Brit). Now, the n- word, in USA, is another matter. So, insults, slurs,
gossip, politeness issues (cfr. French "Tu" versus "Vous" as conventional
implicature) all should get a say in translation (even if it's not part of
what is SAID). Which leaves the Lord of Monmouthshire (Russell) as
J L Speranza
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