[lit-ideas] Re: The Answering Machine

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2012 21:29:56 +0000 (GMT)

 From: "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" <Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx>


McEvoy goes on:

"Often even when humans 'answer the phone' they only do so to get  
information or take a message and do not answer any questions:"

>The fallacy here may be etymological. In German, antwort (ans-wer) means  
"contra-diction", literally.>

If the alleged "fallacy" is contained in the idea that we 'answer the phone', 
how is this a fallacy - especially if we do answer it?


"perhaps you would also like to take issue with the expression 'answer the  
phone' on the basis that no questions are necessarily answered by whoever 
picks  up the receiver, so how do they answer the phone?"

>---- Strictly, the bell may count as the question:

RING RING RING ---- translated as "Is anybody home?">

If that is the question, then the activation of the answer-machine may be an 
answer of sorts, and so the answer-machine answers.



"And indeed the phone itself is simply a vehicle of communication that  
itself does not communicate, so it is doubly wrong an expression as we do not  
answer the phone but respond to the person ringing."

>I wouldn't think the _person_ rings. "Ring" is a mechanical verb: it  
applies to bells, and machines (e.g. phones, or alarm clocks) but hardly to  
persons (or birds).>

Machines may 'ring' but persons may also perform an action that is called 
'ringing': 'I rang the alarm', 'I rang my brother on his mobile' etc. It is in 
this sense second sense that we respond to the person ringing by answering the 
phone. Obviously. If they were 'ringing' in the first sense we might respond by 
calling a doctor.

Is there no end to this madness?

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