Archives of Reception of the Bible

Past blogging in more ways than one.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Addendum on comments

I find in my filter - put there, I assure you, just to stop spam - a comment like the following posted by Mike at evepheso.

"I have to admit that I'm a little disappointed in finding your blog. I was really hoping you were John Lyons the linguist - or are you?"

How should I respond? Should I

(a) think it is a joke (poorly signposted perhaps), chuckle a bit, publish it, and respond in a - hopefully - jocular fashion?
(b) feel slighted and sulk?
(c) [take the Jim West option] feel really slighted, ban him for life, and [okay, not quite the Jim West option] tell him to fuck off?


(d) get all literal and think I have better things to do with my time than deal with someone who is supposely into linguistics but doesn't know anything about the real John Lyons, perhaps the greatest name connected with Semantics in the known universe. Would John Lyons really waste his time biblioblogging?


(e) Just give up blogging?

Just asking... :)


PS the use of the swear word above is very unusual for me (on-line anyway :). Personally I blame Roland Boer's deeply satisfying question to a commenter on his blog as to whether "a really good crap" equates to a 'deep sense of experience". It is all going down the toilet, I am afraid.


At 6:35 pm, Blogger mike said...

I really think you're only option is to tell him to fuck off...

On (a): It might be a joke, but I'm not sure.

On (b): I don't know if that's the best idea, sounds like taking things too personally.

On (d): Perhaps, but my guess is that this commenter actually owns and reads books by the real John Lyons.

On (e): Don't do it.

At 7:36 pm, Blogger John Lyons said...

Well, I could agree with you and do that, but then, where is the fun in that? :)

Mike who?

Part of the reason I started blogging - though I don't recall ever writing this in a post - was to make some contact with interesting people beyond my own immediate context. My own interest in Linguistics is rather narrow and amounts to a self-serving appropriation of Sperber and Wilson's Relevance Theory. But I'd be interested to know what you've written and/or are writing. Any chance of a surname?

At 3:33 am, Blogger mike said...

I have to admit that my familiarity with Relevance theory is only second hand, as I mentioned on NT Wrong's blog, my focuses have been on morphology and syntax.

Well, in terms of accessing things I've written, a surname won't do you much good since I'm only a lowly MA student. My undergrad degree was in Greek and my thesis work is an attempt to develop phrase structure rules and a lexicon for Koine Greek with the goals of a) writing a grammar within the framework of Lexical-Functional Grammar and less likely b) developing a syntactic parser that can do the bulk of the syntax work on Koine texts based on said grammar.

I have a side project on morphological parsing too, but that's on my own time.

So other than what's on my blog, right I don't have anything published (though it I play my cards right, that will be very different in a couple years)

As to my surname, its Aubrey.

At 9:26 am, Blogger N T Wrong said...

Isn't Relevace Theory one of those theories that you go 'ooooh, yeah, they've solved almost everything with that', and then you realise it's expressed at such a level of generality that of course it has to be right?

Or am I wrong?

At 1:54 pm, Blogger John Lyons said...

I find it interesting that there is a right and a left wing way to understand Relevance Theory (like so many theories). Some want to use it as a mechanism to specify the exact meaning of a communicative act and the translators who go to the Relevance section at the International SBL tend in that direction. Others, e.g. me, are more interested in Relevance's description of the nature of the risk implied by communication across the ether. I find it helpful as a heuristic tool when I am looking at the reception of a biblical text because (a) it insists on putting communication in context and (b) it opens the door to understanding any response as a potentially genuine one - you apply the general rule of relevance and ask just how did the reader/hearer get from there to here. None of this validates the theory, of course, and it may be more problematic than it is worth ultimately. But for now, it allows me to look seriously at things which my Bib Studs colleagues usually trash as - at best - misunderstandings, and at worst, call absurd and idiotic.

That's why I describe my use of it as self-serving. I am not a believer, but I find it heuristically valuable. I think. :)

At 2:06 pm, Blogger John Lyons said...

Hi Mike Aubrey,

Thanks for that.

As my response to Wrong shows, my interests have shifted from what was originally a tendency to focus on rules to explain meaning towards an interest in what people actually see and do.

An example here might be the Johnny Cash song I have been so interested in. It might really be about Jesus, but when someone uses it to soundtrack a zombie film, a pastiche of clips of George Foreman, or scenes from computer games such as Halo 3 and Nascar racing, that, in a sense, no longer even matters.

I am more interested in the dynamics inherent in contextual and pragmatic approaches to language than I am in linguistic approaches that focus on the elements of the sentence as determinative. (This divide is, of course, a long standing one). I see a use for the latter, but it doesn't interact well with the peculiarities of exegesis that really interest me. That said, once you lighten up a little, many of the elements of such approaches do matter, but it is the loosening up that seems so very hard for Semantic approaches to do.

(of course, my interest in linguistics is also out of date. So feel free to tell me it ain't so any more :)




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