gmalivuk wrote:Please explain why there can't be a strong argument for both varieties.
I said "sound", not merely "strong". There cannot be two completely sound arguments for contrary conclusions. You could have two strong arguments for two contrary conclusions, but that just means we're not entirely certain which conclusion is correct, though there is strong but inconclusive evidence suggestive of each.
However, I suppose I did exclude a case I've already previously admitted the validity of: a non-erroneous extension of meaning (say from a literal sense to a figurative or metaphorical sense, when the literal thing really makes a good metaphor for the figurative thing). In that case, users in both senses could make sound arguments as to why their use is valid, and both uses could be valid with no contrariety.
And I'm not yet willing to concede that some usages are generally erroneous, except to the extent that they are not common enough to be well understood by the rest of a language community.
I said "genuinely", not "generally"; I'm not sure if you meant genuinely here and just mistyped, or if you meant generally. By my position, any genuine errors are also generally (i.e. universally) errors; any anything which is not generally an error is not a genuine error at all (e.g. if two usages are both non-erroneous, then one being uncommon somewhere does not make it erroneous there). So if you're meaning to deny either then you're denying both, to me.
My position is basically the logical necessity of two more general principles:
1) Some linguistic constructions can sometimes be soundly judged as bad constructions for some reason.
2) The soundness of a judgement is never dependent on which people or how many people hold to it.
Either some constructions can be soundly judged as genuinely bad constructions, and the reasons behind those judgements are general, universal reasons, independent of authority or popularity; or, there is only popularity or authority to back those judgements, and the constructions are not genuinely bad, they are just unpopular or unauthorized, and so what.
To deny my position is to deny at least one of those two points... with a further caveat here, backing up to my earlier point, that there's a difference between correctly using
construction, and correctly making
I stick to my two points above in the 'using' case too, because whether or not a use of an existing language construction is correct as a use
still has nothing to do with whether it is authoritative or popular: if my audience understood me, it doesn't matter if they all disapprove of the use, or if an authority disapproves of it, it was used correctly enough because it conveyed what I meant it to convey to them; they understood me. (With a nested caveat here that all this is talking about the "dry" use of language to communicate unambiguously; my audience may have negative emotional reactions to my usage despite it being unambiguous, but the standards for "language-as-art" which is concerned with emotional sway are different from the standards of "language-as-math" which is concerned with unambiguous communication). This is the point that you keep reiterating and I agree completely with it, with regards to speech-as-using-existing-language.
Where we seem to disagree is in the 'making' case, and I'm not sure which of the two bullets you're preferring to bite there. I think I read you as saying that no linguistic constructions are really any better or worse than others, they're just either widely used or not, but then how do you rebut the argument from tools in general to languages in particular I made earlier? (e.g. there being a skilled community of users of a given hammer design doesn't mean that a different hammer design wouldn't be more effective, used properly for its design, than the existing hammers used properly for their design).
I could also read you as saying that actual usage is the only factor in the evaluation of the quality of a given construction, that there is no actually better or worse usage by any independent standard, but that popular decree is normative enough anyway. I have another argument defending the general principle against appeals to authority or popularity, if you do mean to take that position, but I think you're more likely saying the first, in which case we're back to arguing about languages as tools and speakers as tool-makers, which we kind of dropped before.
you are using a very unusual ("mistaken" by your own definitions) sense of those words
My own definition of "mistaken" has nothing to do with "usual" usage, if by that you mean common usage; I just wrote a long spiel against that above. If you mean "usual" as "historically continuous" or whatever, then how is my use of "mistake" to mean roughly "a position or action against which a sound argument can be made" (together with the principle that popularity or authority never a sound argument make) somehow discontinuous with "usual" usage?