Friday, May 27, 2016

Pausing before taking off the second shoe

I notice that as I take of my shoes, there is a moment, when I have taken off one shoe, when I am at rest for a moment. I resume taking off my other shoe without a definite schedule. This is reflected in a "," in diagramming the expression "I took off one shoe and then the other:
I took off one shoe, I took off the other
Compare with the expression "I untied my shoe and then took it off". Which diagrams as
I untied my shoe :: I took the shoe off
The "," conveys a sequence that can proceed at an unconstrained rate, so I can relax for a moment before taking off the other shoe. When I untie a shoe, though, I do not rest until the shoe is off. 

I find other moments of rest, during the day. For example, getting out of my car there is a related set of actions: pull in, take car out of gear, brake, stop, pull parking brake, undo seat belt, open car door. THEN there is a pause before I exit the car, where I feel like I can rest a moment.  

These moments of pause are represented by the "," of narrative structure describing the action. I understand why it is natural to occur between shoes, but I am less clear why it works that way with stepping out of the car. In fact, I sometimes put one foot out of the car and on the ground, then pause. I guess moving a leg from inside to outside the car is a complete action and that "," is natural between complete actions. These thoughts reinforce the comparison between actions and narratives that can be called "planning". An action is not necessarily described in words but when it is the narrative should reflect underlying structure for the action. By this view, the structure of language simply represents the structure of planning and of action. Which allows language to be a window into our mental processes.

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