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Summary A public language contrasts with a private language (a language only one person can speak, or know that they speak) and an idiolect (a language whose properties are determined by properties of the individual speaker, rather than other speakers or the community of speakers as a whole). Three main questions concerning public languages are the following. First, are there public languages, or are languages invariably either private languages or idiolects? Second, if there are public languages, are there languages that are not public, so either private languages or idiolects? Third, if there are both public languages and languages that are not public, what is the relation between private and public languages?   
Key works Kripke 1982 Important presentation of an argument against private language based upon the role of public language in determining correctness conditions for uses of language. Dummett 2010 Presentation of arguments in favour of the priority of public languages over languages that are not public, based on considerations about communication. Davidson 1986 Important argument against the need to appeal to public languages in giving an account of language and communication. Chomsky 1995 Defence of a view on which languages are not fundamentally public. 
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  1. Jonathan E. Adler (2009). Review of Sanford C. Goldberg, Anti-Individualism: Mind and Language, Knowledge and Justification. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (1).
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  2. Louise M. Antony (ed.) (2003). Chomsky and His Critics. Malden MA: Blackwell Publishing.
    In this compelling volume, ten distinguished thinkers – William G. Lycan, Jeffrey Poland, Galen Strawson, Frances Egan, Georges Rey, Peter Ludlow, Paul ...
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  3. Benjamin F. Armstrong (1984). Wittgenstein on Private Languages: It Takes Two to Talk. Philosophical Investigations 7 (January):46-62.
  4. Emmon Bach, Structure and Texture: Toward an Understanding of Real Languages.
    About: the tensions between the inner and outer view of R-languages ("real languages"), the language-centered and theory-centered study of languages, the (often foreign) linguist and the (sometimes linguist) native speaker, description and theory, a language as a set of choices and extensions of universal grammar and as a concrete realization in a particular culture and history. The materials for this paper are drawn mostly from First Nations languages, especially those of the Pacific Northwest.
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  5. Gordon P. Baker (2005). Wittgenstein: Understanding and Meaning. Blackwell Pub..
    v. 1, pt. 1. The essays -- v. 1, pt. 2. Exigesis, 1-184.
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  6. Gordon P. Baker (1980/1985). Wittgenstein, Meaning and Understanding: Essays on the Philosophical Investigations. University of Chicago Press.
  7. Gordon P. Baker & P. M. S. Hacker (1984). Scepticism, Rules and Language. Blackwell.
  8. Dorit Bar-On (1992). On the Possibility of a Solitary Language. Noûs 26 (1):27-46.
  9. Alex Barber (2001). Idiolectal Error. Mind and Language 16 (3):263–283.
    A linguistic theory is correct exactly to the extent that it is the explicit statement of a body of knowledge possessed by a designated language-user. This popular psychological conception of the goal of linguistic theorizing is commonly paired with a preference for idiolectal over social languages, where it seems to be in the nature of idiolects that the beliefs one holds about one’s own are ipso facto correct. Unfortunately, it is also plausible that the correctness of a genuine belief cannot (...)
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  10. Dan Barbiero (1996). Chomsky V. Kripke, Round Two: Methodological Collecttivism and Explanatory Adequacy. Wittgenstein Studien 3 (2).
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  11. Gemma Bel-Enguix, Jiménez López & María Dolores (eds.) (2010). Language as a Complex System: Interdisciplinary Approaches. Cambridge Scholars.
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  12. Jonathan Francis Bennett (1976). Linguistic Behaviour. Cambridge University Press.
    First published in 1976, this book presents a view of language as a matter of systematic communicative behaviour.
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  13. David Braddon-Mitchell (2004). Masters of Our Meanings. Philosophical Studies 118 (1-2):133-52.
    The two-dimensional framework in semantics has the most power and plausibility when combined with a kind of global semantic neo-descriptivism. If neo-descriptivism can be defended on the toughest terrain - the semantics of ordinary proper names - then the other skirmishes should be easier. This paper defends neo-descriptivism against two important objections: that the descriptions may be inaccessibly locked up in sub-personal modules, and thus not accessible a priori, and that in any case all such modules bottom out in purely (...)
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  14. Robert Briscoe (2006). Individualism, Externalism and Idiolectical Meaning. Synthese 152 (1):95-128.
    Semantic externalism in contemporary philosophy of language typically – and often tacitly – combines two supervenience claims about idiolectical meaning (i.e., meaning in the language system of an individual speaker). The first claim is that the meaning of a word in a speaker’s idiolect may vary without any variation in her intrinsic, physical properties. The second is that the meaning of a word in a speaker’s idiolect may vary without any variation in her understanding of its use. I here show (...)
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  15. Robbins Burling (2004). Prosody Does Not Equal Language. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (4):509-509.
    Prosody, in motherese as in all forms of language, has a very different form and a very different use than the central lexical, phonological, and syntactic components of language. Whereas the prosodic aspects of motherese probably derive from primate vocalization, this does not help us to understand how the more distinctive parts of language emerged.
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  16. Stephen Andrew Butterfill (2009). Anti-Individualism: Mind and Language, Knowledge and Justification * By SANFORD C. GOLDBERG. [REVIEW] Analysis 69 (3):582-585.
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  17. Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.) (2010). Arguing About Language. Routledge.
    Arguing About Language presents a comprehensive selection of key readings on fundamental issues in the philosophy of language. It offers a fresh and exciting introduction to the subject, addressing both perennial problems and emerging topics. Classic readings from Frege, Russell, Kripke, Chomsky, Quine, Grice, Lewis and Davidson appear alongside more recent pieces by philosophers or linguists such as Robyn Carston, Delia Graff Fara, Frank Jackson, Ernie Lepore & Jerry Fodor, Nathan Salmon, Zoltán Szabó, Timothy Williamson and Crispin Wright. Organised into (...)
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  18. H. G. Callaway & J. van Brakel (1996). No Need to Speak the Same Language? Review of Ramberg, Donald Davidson's Philosophy of Language. Dialectica, Vol. 50, No.1, 1996, Pp. 63-71 50 (1):63-72.
    The book is an “introductory” reconstruction of Davidson on interpretation —a claim to be taken with a grain of salt. Writing introductory books has become an idol of the tribe. This is a concise book and reflects much study. It has many virtues along with some flaws. Ramberg assembles themes and puzzles from Davidson into a more or less coherent viewpoint. A special virtue is the innovative treatment of incommensurability and of the relation of Davidson’s work to hermeneutic themes. The (...)
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  19. John V. Canfield (1996). The Community View. Philosophical Review 105 (4):469-488.
  20. Alessandro Capone (2012). Indirect Reports as Language Games. Pragmatics and Cognition 20 (3):593-613.
    In this chapter I deal with indirect reports in terms of language games. I try to make connections between the theory of language games and the theory of indirect reports, in the light of the issue of clues and cues. Indirect reports are based on an interplay of voices. The voice of the reporter must allow hearers to ‘reconstruct’ the voice of the reported speaker. Ideally, it must be possible to separate the reporter’s voice from that of the reported speaker. (...)
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  21. Noam Chomsky (1992). Language and Intepretation: Philosophical Reflections and Empirical Inquiry. In , New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind. Cambridge University Press. 46--74.
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  22. Noam Chomsky (1988). Language and Problems of Knowledge. The Mit Press.
    Language and Problems of Knowledge is sixteenth in the series Current Studies in Linguistics, edited by Jay Keyser.
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  23. Noam Chomsky (1986). Knowledge of Language. Prager.
  24. Noam Chomsky (1971/1972). Problems of Knowledge and Freedom: The Russell Lectures. Vintage Books.
  25. Andy Clark (1987). Meaning, Publicity and Epistemology. Theoria 53 (1):19-30.
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  26. John Collins, (Uea).
    (i) Languages are indefinitely various along every dimension. (ii) Languages are essentially systems of habit/dispositions. (iii) Languages are learnt from experience via analogy and generalisation. (iv) There is no component of the speaker/hearer’s psychology that is..
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  27. John Collins (2007). Review of I G Norance of Language} by Michael D Evitt. [REVIEW] Mind 116 (462):416-423.
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  28. Donald Davidson (2006). The Essential Davidson. Oxford University Press.
    The Essential Davidson compiles the most celebrated papers of one of the twentieth century's greatest philosophers. It distills Donald Davidson's seminal contributions to our understanding of ourselves, from three decades of essays, into one thematically organized collection. A new, specially written introduction by Ernie Lepore and Kirk Ludwig, two of the world's leading authorities on his work, offers a guide through the ideas and arguments, shows how they interconnect, and reveals the systematic coherence of Davidson's worldview. Davidson's philosophical program is (...)
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  29. S. Davies (1988). Kripke, Crusoe and Wittgenstein. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 66 (March):52-66.
  30. Veneeta Dayal, South Asian Languages and Semantic Variation: A Cross-Linguistic Study.
    This project investigates the possibility of variation in the semantic component, a new and dynamic area of study in formal approaches to semantics. Its particular focus is the effect on variation of language contact. The semantic status of classifier languages of South Asia, which have been described as marginal instances of this language type, is used to illustrate the nature of the investigation. Data from a small representative sample of such languages will be collected. The semantic system of these languages, (...)
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  31. Michael Devitt (2010). What "Intuitions" Are Linguistic Evidence? Erkenntnis 73 (2):251 - 264.
    In "Intuitions in Linguistics" (2006a) and Ignorance of Language (2006b) I took it to be Chomskian orthodoxy that a speaker's metalinguistic intuitions are provided by her linguistic competence. I argued against this view in favor of the alternative that the intuitions are empirical theory-laden central-processor responses to linguistic phenomena. The concern about these linguistic intuitions arises from their apparent role as evidence for a grammar. Mark Textor, "Devitt on the Epistemic Authority of Linguistic Intuitions" (2009), argues that I have picked (...)
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  32. Michael Devitt (2006). Ignorance of Language. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
    The Chomskian revolution in linguistics gave rise to a new orthodoxy about mind and language. Michael Devitt throws down a provocative challenge to that orthodoxy. What is linguistics about? What role should linguistic intuitions play in constructing grammars? What is innate about language? Is there a 'language faculty'? These questions are crucial to our developing understanding of ourselves; Michael Devitt offers refreshingly original answers. He argues that linguistics is about linguistic reality and is not part of psychology; that linguistic rules (...)
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  33. Michael Dummett (2010). Language and Communication. In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Arguing About Language. Routledge.
  34. Michael Dummett (1993). What Do I Know When I Know a Language? In The Seas of Language. Clarendon Press.
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  35. Michael A. E. Dummett (1993). The Seas of Language. Oxford University Press.
    Michael Dummett is a leading contemporary philosopher whose work on the logic and metaphysics of language has had a lasting influence on how these subjects are conceived and discussed. This volume contains some of the most provocative and widely discussed essays published in the last fifteen years, together with a number of unpublished or inaccessible writings. Essays included are: "What is a Theory of Meaning?," "What do I Know When I Know a Language?," "What Does the Appeal to Use Do (...)
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  36. Reinaldo Elugardo & Robert J. Stainton (2001). Logical Form Andthe Vernacular. Mind and Language 16 (4):393-424.
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  37. Reinaldo Elugardo & Robert J. Stainton (2001). Logical Form Andthe Vernacular. Mind and Language 16 (4):393–424.
    Vernacularism is the view that logical forms are fundamentally assigned to natural language expressions, and are only derivatively assigned to anything else, e.g., propositions, mental representations, expressions of symbolic logic, etc. In this paper, we argue that Vernacularism is not as plausible as it first appears because of non-sentential speech. More specifically, there are argument-premises, meant by speakers of non-sentences, for which no natural language paraphrase is readily available in the language used by the speaker and the hearer. The speaker (...)
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  38. Brian Epstein (2008). The Internal and the External in Linguistic Explanation. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 8 (22):77-111.
    Chomsky and others have denied the relevance of external linguistic entities, such as E-languages, to linguistic explanation, and have questioned their coherence altogether. I discuss a new approach to understanding the nature of linguistic entities, focusing in particular on making sense of the varieties of kinds of “words” that are employed in linguistic theorizing. This treatment of linguistic entities in general is applied to constructing an understanding of external linguistic entities.
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  39. Robert Fiengo (2003). Linguistic Intuitions. Philosophical Forum 34 (3-4):253–266.
  40. Bryan Frances (2011). Kripke. In Barry Lee (ed.), Key Thinkers in the Philosophy of Language. Continuum.
    This chapter introduces Kripke's work to advanced undergraduates, mainly focussing on his "A Puzzle About Belief" and "Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language".
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  41. Christopher Gauker (2003). Social Externalism and Linguistic Communication. In Maria J. Frapolli & E. Romero (eds.), Meaning, Basic Self-Knowledge, and Mind: Essays on Tyler Burge. CSLI.
    According to the expressive theory of communication, the primary function of language is to enable speakers to convey the content of their thoughts to hearers. According to Tyler Burge's social externalism, the content of a person's thought is relative to the way words are used in his or her surrounding linguistic community. This paper argues that Burge's social externalism refutes the expressive theory of communication.
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  42. Alexander George (2004). Linguistic Practice and its Discontents: Quine and Davidson on the Source of Sense. Philosophers' Imprint 4 (1):1-37.
    A rich tradition in philosophy takes truths about meaning to be wholly determined by how language is used; meanings do not guide use of language from behind the scenes, but instead are fixed by such use. Linguistic practice, on this conception, exhausts the facts to which the project of understanding another must be faithful. But how is linguistic practice to be characterized? No one has addressed this question more seriously than W. V. Quine, who sought for many years to formulate (...)
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  43. Simon Glendinning (2000). XIII: Communication and Writing: A Public Language Argument. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 100 (3):271–286.
    Arguments directed against conceptions of communication which 'privatise' content are familiar. But such arguments tend not to explore the more general idea that communication involves the attempt by one subject to transmit a sense to another subject. In this paper I argue that there is a distinctive misinterpretation of this more general idea which, in a certain way, belongs to philosophy, and concerning which the 'privacy' interpretation is only an inflection. The paper develops an argument against that interpretation and the (...)
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  44. Sanford Goldberg (2007). Anti-Individualism: Mind and Language, Knowledge and Justification. Cambridge University Press.
    Sanford Goldberg argues that a proper account of the communication of knowledge through speech has anti-individualistic implications for both epistemology and the philosophy of mind and language. In Part 1 he offers a novel argument for anti-individualism about mind and language, the view that the contents of one's thoughts and the meanings of one's words depend for their individuation on one's social and natural environment. In Part 2 he discusses the epistemic dimension of knowledge communication, arguing that the epistemic characteristics (...)
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  45. Alan H. Goldman (1979). Reference and Linguistic Authority. Southern Journal of Philosophy 17 (3):305-321.
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  46. Karen Green (2001). Dummett: Philosophy of Language. Polity Press.
    Dummett's output has been prolific and highly influential, but not always as accessible as it deserves to be. This book sets out to rectify this situation.
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  47. H. Paul Grice & P. F. Strawson (2010). In Defense of a Dogma. In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Arguing About Language. Routledge. 141 - 158.
  48. Peter Harder (2003). The Status of Linguistic Facts: Rethinking the Relation Between Cognition, Social Institution and Utterance From a Functional Point of View. Mind and Language 18 (1):52–76.
  49. David Harrah (1960). The Adequacy of Language. Inquiry 3 (1-4):73 – 88.
    he notion of linguistic adequacy (the adequacy of sentences to express or describe) is explicated in terms of a set theoretical model of the communication situation. Roughly: a message is adequate to the degree it answers the receiver's questions. Adequacy is distinguished from openness, in such a way that a message can be both completely adequate in a communication event and also “inexhaustibly open”;. Using this explication it is possible to translate and clarify several familiar philosophical theses concerning the adequacy (...)
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  50. Larry Hauser (1995). Natural Language and Thought: Doing Without Mentalese. Behavior and Philosophy 23 (2):41-47.
    Hauser defends the proposition that our languages of thought are public languages. One group of arguments points to the coincidence of clearly productive (novel, unbounded) cognitive competence with overt possession of recursive symbol systems. Another group relies on phenomenological experience. A third group cites practical and methodological considerations: Occam's razor and the "streetlight principle" (other things being equal, look under the lamp) that motivate looking for instantiations of outer languages in thought first.
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