The Special Case of Conversation

I found myself laughing quite loudly, and re-reading this passage to my wife to help her share in my enjoyment. I’m not sure I succeeded, but I will share with you all nonetheless.

The subject is conversation, and in the specific passage, the authors are beginning to illuminate the “presupposition pool”. Even more specifically, the idea that speakers naturally exclude or include content based on these shared concepts.

…Any speaker will necessarily make certain assumptions about his listeners and will fashion what he has to say accordingly. For example, he will not unnecessarily explain such technical terms as he may use unless he is fairly sure that explanation is required; the gratuitous supply of an unnecessary explanation may become part of the communication and may be perceived as patronizing. On the other hand failure to provide a necessary explanation may be perceived as deliberate one-upmanship, as exhibitionism, as (Chapter 3) sesquipedalian. Under these circumstances the listener may determine not to ask for clarification of the new word and so allow the communication to fail. In either case misunderstanding of the actual contents of the presupposition pool is likely to lead to an undeniable alteration in the character of the conversation.

Linguistics & Biblical Interpretation, p. 258

Yes, I had to look up “sesquipedalian” (Yes, they did in fact define it in Chapter 3, right near the beginning, and yes, that knowledge went “in one ear and out the other”, so to speak). Yes, you should look it up, too. These are my kind of people.

Linguistics & Biblical Interpretation

So far, I’m very much enjoying Linguistics & Biblical Interpretation, by Cotterell & Turner. Very easy to read and understand, as it strives to lay a foundation for the value of linguistically-supported study of Scripture.

I found the following, from the chapter on the pitfalls of word studies, interesting:

…my concept of ‘boy’ in the more general usage may include very many features concerning the range of their features and physique, their hygiene, their habits of play, their social abilities and limitations, and so forth, none of which is linguistically attached to the word ‘boy’ as such at all. The sentences

(1) Boys are usually male,
(2) Boys are usually unkind,

illustrate the difference. The first will be recognized as semantically anomolous (sic), for the qualifier ‘usually’ implies there are exceptions; but a boy that was not a male would appear to be a contradiction of the sense “boy”. The second sentence is linguistically acceptable (even though we consider it wholly untrue) because nothing about the sense of the word ‘boy’ overlaps in meaning with either ‘kind’ or ‘unkind’. The sense “male” is linguistically attached to ‘boy’; “kind” or “unkind” is not.

L&BI, p. 117

That seems pretty clear, and that level of clarity is appreciated. More often than not, linguistic study is rolled up with nuance – but that doesn’t mean it has to be overly complicated!

One Afternoon In May

As I finished my last call of the workday, the power went in and out a couple times in quick succession. Then, it stayed out (it is back on now, surprisingly). It has been very windy, so I went outside to see if something had caused any damage to the house.

First, I found a package from Michael Aubrey on my doorstep:

A History of Ancient Greek

All arrived in good condition! Michael and his wife, Rachel, are in the process of some big changes, so he was looking at whittling down some of his book weight. I jumped at the chance to “help”. From his blog:

For ourselves (Michael and Rachel Aubrey), we are currently transitioning to serve with Wycliffe Bible Translators. We have been offered a ministry assignment creating digital Greek & Hebrew tools and resources, grounded in contemporary linguistics for advancing bible translation, resources that integrate corpus linguistics and the digital humanities for the benefit of minority Bible translation. Because our assignment with Wycliffe is directly connected to the purpose of Koine-Greek.com, we hope that transition will also mean more opportunity for regular writing about Ancient Greek linguistics here based on our work with Wycliffe, along side the continued work on our Comprehensive Grammar of Hellenistic and Early Roman Greek.

https://koine-greek.com/2019/06/06/from-the-editors-transitions/

You might consider helping them out with support, if you find the work they are planning to engage in worthwhile…

Setting my new-to-me books to the side to continue problem solving on the power, I found my neighbor in shock (I was soon to follow) at the size of the tree the wind had knocked down just up the road from us:

Crash!

Luckily, not a bit of damage to the house, and as I mentioned, power is even back on now. I did end up missing our church’s prayer time on zoom. Little bummed at that. But glad to be back on the grid earlier than I thought I might be!

In The Mail: Lexical Semantics

I spend (likely) too much time over at Nerdy Language Majors. Between that and Koine-Greek, I always have something new and interesting to learn and grapple with. And sometimes, it is useful just to find books worth picking up. So, HT to Keith Surland for pointing out Lexical Semantics of the Greek New Testament, by Nida & Louw, a week or so back. I look forward to spending time in it soon!

Lexical Semantics of the Greek New Testament

Miele

My wife took a pretty decent picture of me with our new/used macchina, a 2016 Fiat 500X:

ooooooh… shiny and pretty…

I believe we ended on Miele as her name, honey. You can’t tell in the photo, really, but the golden-yellow sparkles, and also shifts shade ever so slightly depending on the lighting.

Leaving Rome

So, the time to leave Rome and head to Umbria had arrived. Or rather, had nearly arrived. Taking the last hour, Kim and I stopped at a small cafe and each had a cappuccino. Kim got a biscotto to go with hers, and some zucchero as well. I took mine straight.

We left, and headed towards the church whose front courtyard hosted most of the outdoor seating for the restaurant Popi Popi, where we ate dinner on our anniversary, first night in Rome. But before getting there, I suggested to instead head to nearby (an extra block or so) Basilica di S. Maria in Trastevere. This church had come highly regarded by the owner of the guest house we were staying at, Kiara (Chiara?).

And glad we did take the extra time, as the inside was lovely.

But, finally time to leave Rome. We headed to the train station, where I found what I was looking for in Rome, a rather thick copy of Il Signore degli Anelli. Obviously, this makes me very happy. This Italian translation of The Lord of the Rings comes complete with color illustrations and exploded renditions of the Middle Earth scripts.

The book store in Roma Termini is three floors, and I had but a few minutes to find it. I did not even get to browse the language section of the store. Maybe another opportunity will present itself in Venice.

And with that, we bid farewell to Rome, and found ourselves soon at La Casella. Now we pause and rest a bit.

Origene: Commento

So, after spending a day (yesterday) in the historical center of Roma, the Forum Romano, then the Palatine Hill, and then finally the Colosseum, it was time to head to the Vatican Museum.

It was decent. I mean to say, there was plenty to enjoy. They really want you to see it all, in the order they have chosen. There really isn’t a way to skip galleries, focus on a particular area or style, etc. You just have to plod through. If such thoughts points me out as unrefined, so be it.

But following the museum, Kim was gracious and accepted that I might enjoy a visit to a libreria on the streetside – a libreria devoted to patristics and theology, with some psychology, student and children’s books as well. So, I picked through to find something interesting and purchased Origine: Commento al Vangelo di Giovanni:

Cover art for Origine: Commento al Vangelo di Giovanni

Looks interesting, at the intersection of a couple loves – theology, biblical studies and language. And not just Italian! Greek, too, on facing pages.

<insert squealing noises here />

Two days into Italy. Many more to go. Leaving the big city and headed for the countryside tomorrow afternoon. Ciao!

Books and more books

Surprising, no?

I recently started Complex Analysis from the Graduate Texts in Mathematics series. Working through some remedial lessons on complex numbers right now, though I am sure I will be under water before long! I really would like to get the matching volume, Problems and Solutions for Complex Analysis. Maybe someone wants to get me a gift?

Complex Analysis was borrowed from the local university library, as was another volume I haven’t started, Mathematical Physics by Kusse and Westwig. Both are the results of struggling through Penrose’s Road to Reality. Enjoying immensely, but I have some math to “catch up” on.

Additionally, I got a new book in the mail (yay, me!), Steven Runge’s Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament. Comes highly rated by people I respect, so looking forward to it.

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More is happening, life flying way too fast. This will have to suffice for now!

Anniversario

So, this June will be 20 years. My father-in-law offered us a week through his timeshare. After a laborious search on a timeshare site in need of some serious development hours, we narrowed it down to two, and then eventually one.

It was quite the toss up between a TradeWinds excursion (half spent on a catamaran trek and half lounging at a beach resort) and a rustic Italian village/resort (or their more English-friendly site) to be used as both peaceful retreat and base camp for exploring the green center of Italy. The catamaran sounded interesting, even exciting, but the all-inclusive fee of $200/person/day, for a 7-day jaunt by two people was intimidating, to say the least. It was discouraging, really, when we discovered it.

Initially, we were put off by the half-board concept offered by La Casella, and many of the other offerings in Italy. But, upon further study, we actually found it to be a pretty cool idea – basically, in advance you are covering for a decent breakfast and dinner. And from what I can read in reviews of La Casella, the five-course dinners are pretty impressive.

A nice aerial shot of the clubhouse at La Casella

And what’s more, it’s close to Orvieto and all that Etruscan wonderment, and an hour-and-a-half-ish by train to Rome. It is surrounded by wine country, cheese production, history and art. And it has all the on-site potential for cooking classes, hiking the Italian countryside and horseback riding. The choice was clear upon review.

Well, this certainly has put some of my current language learning goals in perspective! Revisiting Italian is definitely in order, even if it means putting German, French, Chinese and Korean on a back-burner (maybe just a simmer). Kicking off on Duolingo, I found my previous self-led efforts had not been completely wasted. I cleared 21% of the existing material in Duolingo, though I am most certainly rusty. Kim also started Duolingo’s Italian course. She is expressing feelings of annoyance with Italian at this time…

As mentioned, I already have some other materials on the shelf that I will be looking at. Here is a sampling:

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Oh, and major goal while in Italy, besides enjoying the stay with my wonderful wife? Collecting a copy of Il signore degli anelli, of course!