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From: R A Brown <[log in to unmask]>


> On 11/10/2013 10:34, J. 'Mach' Wust wrote:
>>  On Fri, 11 Oct 2013 07:48:26 +0100, R A Brown wrote:
> [snip]
>>>>  They are easily confounded, and I imagine that even
>>>>  for native English speakers, a use of the word
>>>>  "primary" calls the conceptual metaphor 'first is
>>>>  better'.
>>>> 
>>> 
>>>  We attend primary school from the age of five, and
>>>  then move onto secondary school at about eleven years
>>>  old. If we stay on in education after this, we go onto
>>>  tertiary education. There is IME no conceptual
>>>  metaphor that primary education is better than
>>>  secondary or tertiary
>> 
>>  Why should there be?
> 
> There should not be.  It was you who wrote "I imagine that
> even for native English speakers, a use of the word
> "primary" calls the conceptual metaphor 'first is
> better"; I was merely pointing out with this and two other
> examples that it was not so.

I have to say that, although of course I certainly understand the
"conceptual metaphor" of first being better, as an English speaker
(first) (and writer later), "first" and "primary" overwhelmingly convey 
the idea of place along a temporal or spatial continuum. Conveying 

the idea of better is definitely a secondary meaning, or maybe tertiary, 

and only very rarely comes to the fore (and then, usually when
speaking of the relative qualities of "first place" or "second place"
entries in some kind of skill contest).
>>  The conceptual metaphor, in the Lakoffian sense, is not

>>  about primary education, but simply about 'first is
>>  better'.
> 
> ... which you maintained that primary also implied.  I say
> it does not.
> 
>>  It is a widely used conceptual metaphor as in
>>  "first-class",
> 
> We don't say "primary class" with this meaning!

Indeed not. 


>>  "first place", "prince",  "first-hand", 
> "first-order",
>>  "first-world", "you're my number one", 
> "second-rate",
>>  "priority" etc. etc., all of which were coined on the
>>  grounds of that conceptual metaphor.
> 
> Yes, no one disputes that.  But I note that in your list of
> examples the words _primary_ and _secondary_ do not figure.

"Better" doesn't even figure in all of them. First place indicates
location along a spectrum of finishing slots. (Yes, quality can
come into play in determining who gets sorted where, but doesn't
really change that "first place" simply means "before everyone
else"). Same with first order, number one, priority, etc. None
of those speak of quality. "Second rate" (and its better, "first
rate") definitely dó indicate quality -- those are idioms whose
primary meaning involves the relative quality of what is being
described. First rate care, second rate food, etc.

Not really sure why "prince" is in this list. Apart from old
stories and news of the royal family, I am just not sure what
a prince actually is or does or why it should matter. I guess
as a leader of sorts or head of a realm, we get to primacy of
place again. But not relative quality, not "(prince is) better"
(and judging from many histories of royals, I'll wager that 

there are many non-princes out here who are, in point of 

fact, of better upbringing and better moral character than 

the princes).
  
>>  I do not doubt that your English has been influenced by
>>  written English. And in my case, I learnt written
>>  English first.
> 
> Both truisms - but, with respect, it has no bearing on the
> fact that English was put into a written form as a
> consequence of its being spoken.   The written form is
> secondary.

If he learned written English first, does that mean he learned it
better? Or, since it was given him first and foremost, does
that mean written English is a better language? I learnt English
(spoken) first, before any other language. I guess that makes
English the best language in the world! :)

For so goes the logic.

Padraic

> Ray