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leave (departure)

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 4 months ago

Entry

 

*leave (departure)

 

Explication

 

X leave(s):

X MOVE(s) else-where

 

Discussion

 

See Proposal 3 in discussion of left.

 

-- Michael Turner

 

 

It seems there might be some predicate issues here.

Can X MOVE(s) else-where be re-worded as:

else-where gets MOVE(ed) by X. ?

 

-- Bill Branch

 

To put the question in NSM terms

 

CAN a PLACE BE MOVEd?

 

I suppose I was counting on the common sense notion of PLACE as something that typically doesn't MOVE. Of course, one can say things like

 

Tectonic plate activity MOVEs California 2 mm eastward per year

 

But in that case, nobody would ever say that California leaves the PLACE where it was last year and is now in a PLACE 2 mm eastward from its previous location.

 

However, one might also say:

 

Every few billion years, gravitational forces from other planets MOVE Earth to another orbit that doesn't intersect its previous one

 

And in that case, one could equally well say that Earth gets MOVEd by those forces or that Earth LEAVEs its usual orbit under the influence of those forces (regarding an orbit as a kind of PLACE for convenience). However, both of these (stretched) examples take us quite far from the commonsense mental model of PLACEs as having relatively static spatial relationships with each other. Human beings didn't evolve with enough motion sensitivity to detect tectonic plate movement or orbital fluctuations. I think examples like these are subtly metaphoric.

 

Regarding institutionalized PLACEs, one can say

 

The Tokugawa shogunate MOVEd the capital from Kansai (where it was Kyoto) to Kanto (where it became Edo, then Tokyo).

 

and perhaps more loosely

 

The capital moved from Kyoto to Edo

 

but in that case I don't think anyone at the time would have been saying that the capital itself would LEAVE Kansai. They might rather have said that the central government (i.e., some PEOPLE) would LEAVE Kansai for Kanto.

 

Let's take it down to the most personal scale: leaving home versus moving one's home. Home is a place that can be moved, and a place that one can leave. Admittedly, nobody would say "My home leaves for Topeka", while they might say "I'm moving my home to Topeka." However, home can't be the agent of the action. Someone has to move the home.

 

"Leave (departure" always has at least the implied direct object of "THIS PLACE" (from someone's point of view). That's what the "OTHER/ELSE" is for in my explication.

 

I think if there's anything missing from this explication, it's that it says nothing about the thing that moves being the agent of the action of its own movement. If a pencil is rolling to the edge of my desk, I don't say, "the pencil is about to leave my desk". How do you get self-propulsion in there?

 

Also, if there's too much of anything in my explication, it's the none-too-subtle emphasis put on "ELSE-WHERE". The important thing is usually the resulting state of "not here", rather than of "being somewhere else."

 

-- Michael Turner

 

What I meant to point out was the role that "move" plays may be ambiguous to someone who doesn't already have tacit knowledge of the lexical functional grammar of English. The syntax allows for two seperate interpretations.

 

Meaning A: "John was tired of sitting next to Sue so John moved else-where ."

This means that "John moved himself to else-where."

The syntax is: Subject Verb Object Preposition. The rules that the predicate "move" imposes here allows the object, if unstated to be the same as the subject. Thus, "John moved to else-where" makes sense. Also, the word "to" can be dropped, I imagine because of some rules in LFG. In this meaning, which I think is the original meaning you intended, "else-where" did not get moved, rather it is what got moved to.

 

Meaning B: "Chief John liked Mary who lived in a distant village. He didn't like that she was so far away and being a very powerful chief, John moved the other place closer to his own village.

 

This is the meaning you addressed in your response. My point is that there must be a way to explicate "leave" such that only Meaning A gets explicated.

 

-Bill Branch

 

I don't really get your objection, Bill. For NSM in English for English speakers, there's no problem of disambiguation--the reader already has your required "tacit knowledge of the lexical functional grammar of English." If you're trying to explicate English "leave (departure)" to non-English speakers, you can use an unambiguous NSM derived from the learner's native language. If you're trying to explicate this sense of "leave" to non-English speakers using only English, you can (and should) make explicit to them your tacit knowledge of the grammar of English "move".

 

I also don't get Meaning B, or even what you're trying to establish with this example. Meaning B has no definite meaning to me. Does Chief John have magical powers enabling him to levitate an entire village down to the roots of the building foundations and plop it down elsewhere? Does "the other place" refer to Mary's home (i.e., she moved her "home place" to another closer village)? Or does it refer to the entire village? Try rewriting it using "leave". And try rewriting it using "move" in a natural way. I just Googled on "move the other place" and got exactly zero hits. And for a pretty obvious obvious reason: it's a nonsense phrase.

 

--Michael Turner

 

I agree that meaning B is a nonsense phrase (except in extreme weird situations). I was working from the premise that explications were a way to build up a language in the mind of someone who does not already know the language and most explications would appear as a riddle to begin with. Thus their mind wouldn't automatically disambiguate which of the two syntax trees are legitimate.

 

I recently had a conversation with a Chinese friend of mine. I had a headache and asked him how I would say this in Chinese. The translation into English is "I headache". The Chinese syntax allows this to mean either "I am a headache" or "I have a headache". Both have meaning in English but not Chinese. At least I have said something like "That kid is such a headache."

 

However, given that I silently assumed this premise groundlessly. I will treat all further explications as being written for English readers. My initial attraction to the NSM was because of a question I had: Is it possible starting from a small subset of a language, to teach the rest of the language? In this way, an English primer could be written for someone with almost no knowledge of English. Only a few pages of text would have to be written in each foreign language of the various students. I saw the NSM as a possible answer to this problem. I think this why I had this misunderstanding.

 

In this case I think your explication works very well. It is concise and gives the meaning pretty well as far as I can see.

 

--Bill Branch

 

Your interest in the possible pedagogical value (ESL, EFL) of NSM reminds me that I wanted to put a question about this to the list.

 

I don't know if we're done with "leave (departure)" here. And there's still "leave" in its "abandon" sense as well: "Leave it--I'll do it tomorrow", "Leave your application form in the box", "She said she'll leave her husband if he strays again", etc.

 

Languages can differ in how they express a meaning, with a verb being punctual in one, continual in another. In Japanese, people say "kekkon-shite-iru" (Lit. I got married -- kekkon-shita-- and am in that state -- shite-iru). As I remark elsewhere, the prime KNOW is expressed in Japanese as "shitte-iru -- Lit. got to know something and am in that state. English "leave" appears to be punctual, but it's possible to say "I'm leaving" -- it can be a state of intent, not just an event.

 

Your note on Chinese headaches is amusing. Languages certainly differ in how they form expressions for different states. In English, we say "I have a headache", Chinese might be more "I am " or "I ". Both of these are literal meanings, however. They have to be distinguished from figurative uses. Obvious, a kid is not literally a headache, but precisely because that's obvious, we instantly (maybe even subconsciously) infer that "this kid is a headache" means "this kid is very often a source of mind-bending stress." In both Japanese and English, it's possible to help out a confused waiter by saying "I'm the tortellini", meaning "I'm the one who ordered the tortellini" (And "Funny, you don't look like tortellini" can be a follow-up laugh-line in both languages). This is pretty consistent with Optimality Theory (which I don't think is as well developed in semantics as it is on other linguistic levels such as phonology and generative grammar) -- we break rules when breaking them facilitates communication more than it impedes. There may be languages that don't even have a "leave" word because the speech community is geographically very constrained--its speakers are almost always within shouting distance of one another. For all I know, there may even be languages where people always say something that translates literally as "I move elsewhere", because "leaving" is a relatively rare event in that "linguiculture", not worth an optimization to the language.

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