It is possible that I was presumptuous in my phrasing

Branwell

Member
French
Hi everyone,

In a science fiction novel, a character is talking to a computer. The computer says:

It is possible that I was presumptuous in my phrasing, Lazarus.

Lazarus laughs and says:

I was not laughing at you but at the play on words with which you answered me.

A play on words??? What play on words? It has to be in the sentence above, it can't be another one, but where is it?
 
  • Juan Moretime

    Member
    American English, East Coast
    In a science fiction novel, a character is talking to a computer. The computer says:

    It is possible that I was presumptuous in my phrasing, Lazarus.

    Lazarus laughs and says:

    I was not laughing at you but at the play on words with which you answered me.

    A play on words??? What play on words? It has to be in the sentence above, it can't be another one, but where is it?
    Well I don't see any jeu de mots, either. There IS something odd, however. Lazarus does not say "I AM not laughing at you." He says, I WAS not laughing at you." Was he laughing before the computer said the above line?
     

    Branwell

    Member
    French
    No really, the play on words has to be in this sentence. Before Larazus' mysterious line, there is a small paragraph in which the narrator, a highly intelligent character says:
    Lazarus snorted, then chopped it off and spoke in such a fashion as to cause me to think that the old man was not quite sane.
    So, this implies that the play on words is so subtle that he himself did not understand it. And I'm afraid I'm not clever enough myself :(
     

    OLN

    Senior Member
    French - France, ♀
    "the play on words with which you answered me", donc la réponse de l'ordinateur, doit figurer avant cela.
     

    Branwell

    Member
    French
    Je ne pense pas… La phrase de l'ordinateur est "isolée", je ne vois pas pourquoi Lazarus rirait d'une phrase prononcée 5 minutes plus tôt.
    Tout porte à croire que c'est une réaction spontanée à la phrase : It is possible that I was presumptuous in my phrasing, Lazarus.
     

    OLN

    Senior Member
    French - France, ♀
    Pourquoi ne reviendrait-on pas sur un jeu sur les mots ressenti comme tel 5 minutes plus tôt dans une même conversation ? Vérifie tout de même que le personnage n'a pas déjà trouvé quelque chose de drôle auparavant, d'où "I was not laughing (earlier/before) at you".
     
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    Branwell

    Member
    French
    Admettons… Voici le passage précédent où l'ordinateur intervient pour donner sa définition de "love":

    Agreed, Lazarus. Then what remains must be divided into two categories, ‘Eros’ and ‘Agape,’ and each defined separately.
    I cannot know what ‘Eros’ is through direct knowledge, as I lack both body and biochemistry to experience it.
    I can offer nothing but intensional definitions in terms of other words, or extensional definitions expressed in incomplete statistics.
    But in both cases I would not be able to verify such definitions since I have no sex.

    Il est possible que le jeu de mots en question soit simplement la distinction Eros/Agape, mais je ne suis pas convaincu…
     

    OLN

    Senior Member
    French - France, ♀
    On ne peut pas relire tout le dialogue depuis le début à ta place :).
    Quoi qu'il en soit, pas de jeu de mots décelé dans la phrase "It is possible that I was presumptuous in my phrasing, Lazarus" et pour moi, "I was not laughing etc." indique que quelque chose a fait rire le personnage avant que l'ordinateur (qui parle mais n'a pas le sens de l'humour ?) ne dise cela.
     

    OLN

    Senior Member
    French - France, ♀
    Tu n'es donc pas non plus d'accord avec le raisonnement de Juan :
    Lazarus does not say "I AM not laughing at you." He says, I WAS not laughing at you." Was he laughing before the computer said the above line?
    Je ne vois pas ce que mon ton a de paternaliste — peut-être un peu lassé de devoir insister pour te convaincre de chercher ailleurs le jeu de mots, alors que tu campes sur
    the play on words has to be in this sentence.
    La phrase de l'ordinateur est "isolée"
     

    Branwell

    Member
    French
    Je ne vois pas ce que mon ton a de paternaliste
    Ça va je vais m'en remettre, je te remercie pour ton aide, mais je poste un bout de dialogue sur ton insistance et tu me réponds "on ne peut pas relire tout le dialogue à ta place".
     

    Branwell

    Member
    French
    Merci JClaudeK, j'y ai pensé, et il est possible que ce soit vraiment ça, mais ça m'étonnerait : déjà, je ne pense pas que ce soit un "play on words" au sens strict… Lazarus utilise les mots de façon très précise.
    Ensuite, l'intervention d'Ira :
    Lazarus snorted, then chopped it off and spoke in such a fashion as to cause me to think that the old man was not quite sane.
    me fait penser que le jeu de mots en question est extrêmement subtile, c'est une sorte de défi lancé au lecteur : il faut être plus malin qu'Ira, qui a plusieurs siècles et gouverne une planète entière, pour comprendre le jeu de mots. L'astuce dans la phrase dont tu parles ne me semble pas être si obscure que ça.
     

    Branwell

    Member
    French
    Plus j'y pense, plus je crois que la solution n'est pas si obscure que ça…
    Le jeu de mots est sans doute dans le "presumptuous", qui répond à l'affirmation précédente de Lazarus (que je n'avais pas incluse ici, désolé) : "the way you phrased that seemed to include the presumption that you could experience 'Agape'.
    L'ordinateur utilise donc "presumptuous" dans un sens différent du "presumption" de la phrase de Lazarus, ce qui constitue bien un jeu de mots, il me semble.
    En outre, ce jeu de mots fonctionne aussi en français, ce qui est une bonne nouvelle !
    Je vais partir là-dessus, merci à tous.
     

    misterk

    Moderator
    English-American
    Sorry for jumping in late, but it seems to me that the play on words is indeed in the computer's earlier response, when he says, "I have no sex." I suspect he means "I have no gender; I am neither feminine or masculine." But the line can also mean "I'm not enjoying sexual relations with anyone (or anything, I suppose)."
     

    Branwell

    Member
    French
    I thought about this, it may totally be the answer, but I stick to my interpretation: I don't think a character can delay his laughter and "snort" 3 sentences later. A character laughs to the last sentence that he heard.
     

    Juan Moretime

    Member
    American English, East Coast
    Sorry for jumping in late, but it seems to me that the play on words is indeed in the computer's earlier response, when he says, "I have no sex." I suspect he means "I have no gender; I am neither feminine or masculine." But the line can also mean "I'm not enjoying sexual relations with anyone (or anything, I suppose)."
    Well, at last we have pun! And, I might add, one that an American would actually laugh at.
     

    Itisi

    Senior Member
    English UK/French
    But why did he say "It is possible that I was presumptuous in my phrasing, Lazarus." ? :confused:

    And why did he say ""the way you phrased that seemed to include the presumption that you could experience 'Agape'. ? He can't experience Eros, that much is clear... Oh, my poor head! :confused:
     
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    lentulax

    Senior Member
    UK English
    [presumption - presumptuous]
    C'est ça, le jeu de mots, c'est tout..
    Joking aside (and not many people would snort with laughter at this one - but perhaps Lazarus wasn't quite sane), this is certainly true, and in the full context I don't think there can be any doubt; the full context can be found in a previous thread called 'when the wind sets from that quarter' (#4) ; had this been available, Itisi would not have been misled into the sexist assumption that computers are male ; this one is called Minerva, and is always identified as 'she' (the narrator even says, rather inelegantly, 'She's as female as a cat in heat').
     

    Branwell

    Member
    French
    You're right, and this is slightly disappointing in my opinion… I really thought more context wasn't needed, my mistake.
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    I agree that the wordplay is on "I am asexual." and "I cannot/do not engage in sexual activity." It is the time lapse that seems to be the problem. And the spoken emphasis would be on the word "you". The computer seems not to understand this, and may be misusing the word "presumptuous", too. I also agree with Itisi's observation in #27 (that the computer could not experience eros (because of not being male or female), and that it could not experience agape (because it is incapable of emotion).
     

    lentulax

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I wonder if they mind...:eek:
    It's people taking offence on their behalf that you've got to worry about these days. Not to mention those distressed by the appalling implication that Intelligence, even Artificial, must be male. You tread on very thin ice - fortunately not on Twitter.
     

    lentulax

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I really thought more context wasn't needed, my mistake.
    It's beginning to look as though we shan't reach agreement even if you quoted the whole book. I'm sorry if my post #28 sounded critical in a way it wasn't meant to. Though sometimes more context allows people to get a better perspective on a point, one can't expect people to go overboard to provide extended context that seems entirely unnecessary. One thing that I've found odd about these forums, though, is the large number of people who quote something from a book, but never give the title or author - which would usually be enough for anyone who was interested enough to look a bit further.
     
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