betray the contingency of syntax

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Blue Apple

Senior Member
Persian (Iran)
Does "betray the contingency of syntax" in the following context mean "reveal the conditional (indeterministic) nature of syntax"?

Context:
In "One Hundred Live and Die" by Bruce Nauman, the keywords ‘Live’ and ‘Die’ are incorporated into three-word phrases which all share the same grammatical structure but which all betray the contingency of syntax through the substitution of different words in the same very simple grammatical structure (Art and Advertising by Joan Gibbons).
 
  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think it means that the words take on different meanings although used in the same grammatical structure.

    I think 'contingent' is being used in the sense of 'dependent on outside factors, or context'.
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    It does mean "reveal," and it may mean the meaning depends on (is conditional upon) the syntactical structures, but the right word would be "deterministic," not "indeterministic." We would have to see more context to be sure of the ultimate point, here, but it's pretty certain that the author is contrasting the use of "art and advertising" (two nouns conjoined by a conjunction) with "live and die" (two verbs conjoined by a conjunction) -- maybe with regard to meaning, or maybe with regard to the syntax of the sentences in which they are embedded.

    More context needed ... :)
     

    Blue Apple

    Senior Member
    Persian (Iran)
    It does mean "reveal," and it may mean the meaning depends on (is conditional upon) the syntactical structures, but the right word would be "deterministic," not "indeterministic." We would have to see more context to be sure of the ultimate point, here, but it's pretty certain that the author is contrasting the use of "art and advertising" (two nouns conjoined by a conjunction) with "live and die" (two verbs conjoined by a conjunction) -- maybe with regard to meaning, or maybe with regard to the syntax of the sentences in which they are embedded.

    More context needed ... :)
    Hi Coiffe. But I think "contingency" means "being conditional" and not "determinism" o_O Are you sure "contingency" means "determinism"?
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    No I didn't mean that it "means" determinism, I just had a reaction to your word "indeterministic." What I was thinking was that syntax predetermines certain outcomes in final surface-level sentences. That seemed contrary to your parenthetical "indeterministic."
     
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