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The first couple of panels of today's SMBC:

The next few panels suggest that technically, it's more of a pragmatic argument, in that the argument is about speaker's meaning rather than literal meaning — though the ordinary-language meaning of pragmatic is almost directly the opposite of what's needed here:

And the last couple of panels confirm that we're talking about CNN terminology rather than LSA terminology:

Though a meta-argument about semiotic terminology would be a step up from most of my occasional samples of cable news argumentation.

Mouseover title: "I see junkies everywhere now!"

And the aftercomic:


  1. Ralph Hickok said,

    October 27, 2015 @ 7:22 am

    Reminiscent of the Monty Python "Argument" sketch:

  2. empty said,

    October 27, 2015 @ 9:02 am

    No, it's not.

  3. derek said,

    October 27, 2015 @ 11:30 am

    Yes, it is

  4. Jim said,

    October 27, 2015 @ 2:14 pm

    Oh, shut up!

  5. Jonathan Mayhew said,

    October 27, 2015 @ 4:07 pm

    What is the ordinary language definition of pragmatics? I'm not getting it. (semantic argument about the meaning of the word 'pragmatic')

    [(myl) There isn't any ordinary language definition of pragmatics, as far as I know. But the definition of pragmatic in ordinary usage is something like "dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations". So a pragmatic argument would be one that ignored fussy questions about interpretation, and certainly not one that raised meta-interpretive question about literal meaning vs. speaker's intention.

    And the definition of semantic in ordinary usage is something like "relating to meaning", which would cover questions of interpretation or meta-interpretation at whatever level of analysis.

    But linguists like to distinguish between meaning as something that sentences have (semantics) versus meaning as something that speakers do (pragmatics).]

  6. Jason Merchant said,

    October 28, 2015 @ 4:24 pm

    CNN terminology, also familiar to Fox viewers: see this.

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