Epistemic Phrases in English

I was reading the thesis of Anna Wierzbicka’s “English: Meaning and Culture” and found this epistemic analysis worthy and capturing it for future reference:

Phrases that clarify the speaker’s stance in relation to what is being said. A major question addressed through phrases is whether or to what extent the speaker is claiming knowledge (“I Know”).

“Bill is in Sydney now” imply an unqualified claim to knowledge: “I Know”. By contrast, sentences with epistemic phrases like I think, I guess, I suppose, I believe, I suspect, I estimate, I know, I feel, I find, I expect, I presume, I assume, I understand do not imply such claim.

Phrase Script / Meaning
I think it is raining I think like this: it is raining and I don’t say I know
I suppose it is raining I think like this now, I don’t know, I thinking about it now
I guess it is raining It’s regional, more American & is very ex promptu and more decisive
I gather it is raining to collect knowledge by observation and reasoning; to infer, deduce
I presume it is raining a personal stance and an appeal to other people
I think now, I don’t know, I know someone else know
I believe it is raining considered, cautiously expressed opinion, implies some grounds, some evidence for thinking what one does
I find it is raining to discover or perceive on inspection or consideration or by experience/trial
I expect it to be raining to anticipate that it will turn out to be the case that; hence suspect, surmise, suppose
I understand it is raining it implies thinking and knowledge
I imagine it will rain often associated with mental pictures of imagined state of affairs, includes an if-component and an I can think component
I bet it is raining conveying a paradoxical combination of mental states: may or may not happen
I suspect it is raining thinking something bad about someone or something, as well as not knowing
I assume it is raining to take for granted as the basis of argument or action; to suppose

English : Meaning & Culture

Anna Wierzbicka, in her scholarly thesis “English: Meaning and Culture”, using linguistic semantics, investigates the “universe of meaning” encompassed within the vocabulary and grammar of the English language and places it in the historical and geographical perspective.

Some I liked from the book:

Neither Language nor culture stands still, but in every perios there are certain shared understandings and shared cultural norms that find their expression in a community’s ways of speaking. Anglo English words like fair and fairness are constitutive of Anglo culture, and distinctively Australian words like dob and dobber, of Australian culture

In trying to analyze his experience of coming back to Syria after a long stay in US, one scholar refers Anglo culture with the use of “compact phraseology” and the Syrian culture with “effusiveness”

The Oriental’s impetuosity and effusiveness make his imprecatory prayers, especially to the “unaccustomed ears” of Englishmen, blood-curdling. To unreconstructed Oriental the brevity, yea, even curtness, of an Englishman or an American, seems to sap life of its pleasures and to place disproportionate value on time. For the oriental, the primary value of time must not be computed in terms of business and money, but in terms of sociability and good fellowship. Poetry, and not prosaic accuracy, must be the dominant feature of speech. There is much more of intellectual inaccuracy than of a moral delinquency in the Easterner’s speech. The Oriental expects to be judged chiefly by what he means and not by what he says.

“Understatement” as  Anglo speech practice is all about expressing oneself in such a way that one’s words say less than one wants to say. People should not overstate – that is should not exaggerate – rather than they should not understate what they really want to communicate. Following list of expressions commonly used in the modern English as tools of understatement or down toning

compromisers: comparatively, enough, kind of, more or less,  quite, rather, relatively, sot of
diminishers: a little, in many/some respects, in part, mildly, moderately, partially, partly, pretty, slightly, somewhat
minimizers: a bit, barely, hardly, scarcely
approximators: almost, basically, nearly, practically, technically, virtually

Alexander Pope vs. Me, Ode on Renewal vs. Solitude

Earlier I wrote my lack luster ode….on moving to new vistas and renewing yourself in corporations:

When well is drain, people refrain
Then owner makes a new well in contrarian

Fickle as usual and repeating with no respite
Trickles my zest and longing to move despite
Sickle the past as new vista emerges

I came across this ode composed by Alexander Pope when he was a 11-year old:

Happy the man who wish and care
A few paternal acres bound
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.

Blest, who can unconcernedly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quite by the day,

Sound sleep at night; study and ease,
Together mixt; sweet recreation,
And Innocence, which most does please
With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown,
Thus unlamented let me die,
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.

Such cheerful resignation on the part of a boy, such stoic fortitude, is quite remarkable even when we suppose Alexander Pope has appropriated consecrated pastoral themes and attitudes. Yet to have written out such verses as serene as these must have meant to come face to face with the austerity and anonymity they envision, an anonymity plainly at odds with poetic ambition and hope for reputation. Perhaps the word unknown in the last stanza should have been renown. The brief phrase “health of body” must be of special meaning to the boy by the age of 15, as he was agonized by constant pain that he told a friend he had, “resolved to give way to his distemper, and sat down calmly, in full expectation of death”.

I’m looking forward to yet another book to read, Maynard Mack’s splendid biography of Pope: Alexander Pope: A Life

Why a Private App store for Windows Phone 7 makes business sense….

As the app numbers determine a mobile device’s ubiquity and utility, app wars ensue between dominants and the underdog, entering the market late. Windows Phone 7, being an underdog, with an unclear and distant  tablet strategy, needs to win the hearts of business to survive, consumers alone strategy isn’t enough.

Persuading enterprises to develop apps that are only targeted to their business needs, requires a well thought through game plan and robust & secure app platform that’s private. On one side, Microsoft has to enable only permitted employees of an enterprise download designated apps and still on the other, revenue sharing (30% for MS and 70% for App Developer) to be remodeled for Line of Businesses (LOBs) within an organization. It has to evolve into eco system rich with functions for the enterprises to manage their app life cycles

But there’s tremendous potential in this model as the mobility picks up speed with myriad smart devices accessing cloud 24×7 with generous data plans. Companies – vendors and businesses can reap great business benefits if they strategize and exploit this. Well, one thing is clear, we’ve to wait & see windows 7 phone’s emergence from its infancy to next stage and keep an eye out. Certainly hope that MS can live to its expectations as it did with Windows 7.

25 Classic Writers who define English & American Literature

Compiled by Joseph Epstein in Literary Genius. I’m going to start hunting for these listed and rated (5 star by me) creations by geniuses to load into my future eReader.

# Genius Some of the Great Works My * Rating
5 to 1

Geoffrey Chaucer

Canterbury Tales


William Shakespeare

All plays and sonnets *****
Thumbs up

John Milton

Paradise lost and Paradise Regained,
Essays: Aeropagitica, Lycidas, Of Education, Divorce

Thumbs up

Alexander Pope

The Rape of the Lock, The Dunciad, The New Dunciad, Pastorals, An Essay on Criticism *****
Thumbs up

Samuel Johnson

Rambler and Rasselas, Journey to Western Islands of Scotland, Lives of Poets, The Life of Milton, The Vanity of Human Wishes ***

Edward Gibbon

The History of Decline and Fall of Roman Empire, Memoirs of My Life *****
Thumbs up

William Wordsworth

The Prelude, Narrative Poems: Lucy, Resolution and Independence, Surprised by Joy, Upon Westminster Bridge, The Recluse *****
Thumbs up

Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey **

William Hazlitt

The Indian Jugglers **

John Keats

Poems, Endymion, Annus Mirabilis, Lamia, Ode to Nightingale, Grecian Urn and Autumn ****
Thumbs up

Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter ***

Charles Dickens

David Copperfield, Little Dorrit, The Old Curiosity Shop **

Walt Whitman

Leaves of Grass *

Herman Melville

Israel Potter, Monody, MobyDick **

George Elliot

Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Daniel Deronda **

Emily Dickinson

Poetry *

Mark Twain

The Huckleberry Finn *****
Thumbs up

Henry James

—-Well I’m not a fiction addict, hence skipping from now on——- *

Joseph Conrad

—————– *

Willa Cather

—————– *

Robert Frost

—————– *

James Joyce

—————– *

T.S. Elliot

—————– *

William Faulkner

—————– *

Ernest Hemingway

—————– *

Stress, Strain and Destress, Unstrain

I’ve been looking into stress testing one of the customer’s web app and exploring VS2010’s features. Was a punishing week between the digital dawn to dusk marathon, 10am  to 10pm. A pretty tiring learning curve with a trove of info to digest, before providing the right advice to customer. Certainly the 250 virtual user limit (vide MSDN license for VS2010 Ultimate) restricts scaling users beyond. Alternatively you can run VS2010 Ultimate in multiple machines but consolidating data isn’t possible, thereby seriously hampering the idea to circumvent this limit.

After this stressful work week which strained my back, on Thu 9th Dec afternoon set off to Malacca, driving from Yishun to visit my Uncle. The words Stress & Strain though seems synonymous but are different and made me to refer the dictionary and the synonyms guide to discover more. Stress causes Strain on objects and Pressure is state of continuous stress and Tension more often refers now to stressed relationships and to physical and emotional stress. Back to my ‘unwinding of stress or destress to unstrain’ short description follows:-

I’ve been to Malacca before in 1999, so this visit revived my decade long memory of this colonial port. Perhaps this is the first time I’m doing a long trip off the road to Malaysia by car and called a couple of my friends to get some driving tips to safely navigate NS highway. My Garmin GPS was very handy and did a wonderful job of directing me on exits and in KL’s maze of crisscrossing highways and slip roads.

Well, on the highway to Malacca, I was careful not to exceed 110 Km/hr except while overtaking. On return, touched 140 to 150 at times on long stretches where there was 2 or 3 cars visible. Entire trip was a whooping 800 km trek with Muar, KL, Batu Caves sojourns in between before returning back to Singapore on Sun 12th Dec to beat the jam but was still caught in the melee. Reached Causeway on the Johor side by 12 but when I cleared both the immigrations’, it was 1:30pm. Tuas seems a better bet for the extra mile drive rather the slow and grueling trudge between the checkpoints.