grammaticality (was old/new translations) (fwd)

Stephen H. Phillips phillips at
Fri Dec 15 19:05:36 UTC 1995

To: Birgit Kellner <kellner at>
Subject: Re: grammaticality (was old/new translations)

On Thu, 14 Dec 1995, Birgit Kellner wrote:

> Clearly, one has to distinguish philosophical presuppositions from
> textual/pragmatic presuppositions - while the whole hypothetical clause ("if
> it were present...") in the above-quoted translation is certainly an element
> of GaGgeZa's philosophy, it is not an element of the pragmatic
> presuppositions of the text. Let's put it that way: If GaGgeZa had wanted to
> express the whole yogyAnupalabdhi-queue, nothing could have stopped him. But
> he didn't. Hence, it's not an element of the text (to make this argument
> more precise, one would have to involve a few further assumptions, but I
> would like to skip them for sake of brevity). 
There is a false distinction current in linguistics: 
pragmatics/semantics.  I defy you to produce an intelligible translation 
of just about anything philosophical, and probably much else, without 
relying on pragmatic -- to include background, previously explicitly discussed, 
philosophic -- suppositions.  DISCOURSE CONTEXT disambiguates.  What we want 
is a translation that preserves discourse-relative meaning.  Gangesa did not
need to elabolate yogya-anupalabdhi, because he presupposes that his
audience will understand what he fully means.

Stephen Phillips


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