NABOKV-L post 0014456, Wed, 20 Dec 2006 18:13:02 +0000

Re: Much watch, American, Hogg, Khayyam
On 18/12/06 13:24, "Chaswe@AOL.COM" <Chaswe@AOL.COM> wrote:

> SKB wrote:
> IF you insist that ³American² means or subsumes ³product of American cultural
> values and educational systems² we are locked in a typical semantic loop!
> Well, if ³American² means anything I would have thought that that is what it
> means. Otherwise ³American² might as well mean anything that happens to be in
> America, flora and fauna from elsewhere (noisy starlings?), or any human
> passing through for a longer or shorter period. I don¹t quite follow the
> ³semantic loop² concept ?

Charles: ³Semantic loops² arise if you use the term X WITHIN the DEFINITION
of the term X. In your case, ³American² occurred on both sides of your
defining Œequation.¹ Longer loops can occur, e.g., you look up ³saline²
defined as ³salty² then find ³salty² defined as ³saline.² Some say such
loops (they can be very deeply nested as you look up the meanings of each
defining term) are INEVITABLE. We lexicographers & semanticists do our best,
but our ultimate excuse is ³Sorry, the FAULT lies in REALITY.²

I repeat: ³American² has MANY valid meanings. Compare ³American citizen,²
³American Pie,² ³American Cultural Values,² ³American ally,² ... Under SOME
of these categories, it¹s reasonable to describe VN as an ³American writer.²
VN himself accepted the tag. BUT, a common semantic error is to then assume
that ³VN as American writer² implies that you are free to substitute other
meanings of ³American² in the designation. The designation is NOT exclusive.
VN can also be correctly designated as a ³Russian writer² and as a ³European
writer.² (Recalll that VN believed that his best readers would be
well-versed in French literature!) Fans of Korzybski (General Semantics)
will see the temporality problems ‹ against ³VN as Russian writer² do we
need some date markers such as 1920 (whatever)-1941, or (in my view, yes)
did VN remain a Rusian writer regardless of place & language employed?

Stan Kelly-Bootle

Your original query was

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