Assignment 1

by Zach Tomaszewski

for LING 440, Spring 2002, taught by Ben Bergen

1. Sally is a block of ice verses Paula is cold-hearted.

Though I have never heard of anyone referred to as a block of ice, I have heard of cold or icy people. What exactly one means by "block of ice" seems to depend on the context, however. It could be that Sally's body has a very low temperature--either she was just fished out of an icy pond, or she just has very cold hands, even in bed. It could mean that she's sexually uptight (frigid). Perhaps she displays no emotions and isn't ruffled by surprises or hairy situations (like Iceman in the movie Top Gun). Perhaps she prizes rationality over emotion and isn't swayed by pity, mercy, or love. Most of these stem from the "cold" attribute of ice. It could be that the speaker was alluding to some other attribute: her hardness, "meltability", "carvability", etc. The opposite of a "block of ice" could be a "furnace," "nymph," or "bleeding heart."

Depending on the specific meaning implied by the context, Sally may be very much like Paula, who is cold-hearted. They may both care little for the needs or emotions of others. My grandmother always said "Cold hands, warm heart." If that's true, and Sally is a "block of ice" only because she's physically cold to the touch, then she may be the exact opposite of cold-hearted Paula. I think we need a little more context to decide for sure how similar Sally and Paula are.

2. Theories.

When one talks about a theory in terms of its architect, foundations, support, or erosion, one is talking about that theory in terms of a building or structure. Other idea-related concepts are also described in terms of buildings--argumentive positions, ideologies, beliefs, etc. Relationships can also be thought of in terms of buildings: "We built our relationship on a foundation of mutual trust and understanding." Theories, like other kinds of ideas, can also be described in terms of growing things ("It's a budding theory."), fashion ("That's an out-dated view."), or products ("He just keeps churning out these shoddy theories."), among other things.