It might be argued that there is a psychological explanation. Or
onto-psychological: his second-grade teacher was against signs of punctuation,
now Geary treats commas as commies.
In a message dated 7/14/2015 12:12:33 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
She said that there was only one kind of language and that was spoken
language. "You don't make punctuation sounds when you speak so don't use the
damn things when you write."
That's as it might, but as R. Paul implicated, I think, when referring to
Victor Borges, it might be argued that a sign of punctuation, when
appropriate, REFLECTS a feature of spoken language. Language is segmental, for
Wittgenstein (his example: "It is raining."). But it can also be
SUPRA-segmental, as in the Valley intonation, "It is raining?", or the more
"Is it raining?" -- with inversion. In those languages that do not invert,
the raising interrogation supra-segment is marked by "?". So it can be
argued against the second-grade teacher that while you don't make punctuation
sounds when you speak, signs of punctuation, when appropriate represent
The thing is still implicatural. One thing is progress; another thing is
proGRESS. One thing is content; another thing is conTENT. In this case,
stress is segmental. But in "She did not just like him, he LOVED him.", the
implicature is suprasegmental: it is emphatic. So it may be argued that for
each sign of punctuation there is, alla Victor Borges, a phonetic phenomenon
that the sign is meant to represent.
Austin was obsessed with this: 'How to do things with words'. He called the
things performatives, just to tease Hart, who would rather have used
'operative' (as used in Scots Law) to mean 'performative'. Austin
three aspects of the performative: the phonic act (as when you say "Ouch",
or what Witters calls an articulate sound); the phatic act, as when you
say, "Her ouches ouch me"; and the rhetic act: "he asked me if his ouches
ouched me." In this latter case, the indirect report echoes a direct question,
"Do my ouches ouch you?", which if pronounced, would apply a suprasegment
that the "?" is meant to represent.
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