Ryan Mark Nefdt
University of Cape Town
ABSTRACTWords form a fundamental basis for our understanding of linguistic practice. However, the precise ontology of words has eluded many philosophers and linguists. A persistent difficulty for most accounts of words is the type-token distinction [Bromberger, S. 1989. “Types and Tokens in Linguistics.” In Reflections on Chomsky, edited by A. George, 58–90. Basil Blackwell; Kaplan, D. 1990. “Words.” Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume LXIV: 93–119]. In this paper, I present a novel account of words which differs from the atomistic and platonistic conceptions of previous accounts which I argue fall prey to this problem. Specifically, I proffer a structuralist account of linguistic items, along the lines of structuralism in the philosophy of mathematics [Shapiro, S. 1997. Philosophy of Mathematics: Structure and Ontology. Oxford University Press], in which words are defined in part as positions in larger linguistic structures. I then follow Szabò [1999. “Expressions and Their Representations.” The Philosophical Quarterly 49 : 145–163] and Parsons [1990. “The Structuralist View of Mathematical Objects.” Synthese 84: 303–346] in further defining words as quasi-concrete objects according to a representation relation. This view aims for general correspondence with contemporary generative linguistic approaches to the study of language.
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DOI 10.1080/0020174x.2018.1562967
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References found in this work BETA

Aspects of the Theory of Syntax.Noam Chomsky - 1965 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Philosophical Investigations.Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein - 1953 - New York, NY, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Meaning.H. Paul Grice - 1957 - Philosophical Review 66 (3):377-388.

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Citations of this work BETA

A Bundle Theory of Words.J. T. M. Miller - 2021 - Synthese 198 (6):5731–5748.
A Puzzle concerning Compositionality in Machines.Ryan M. Nefdt - 2020 - Minds and Machines 30 (1):47-75.
Words, Species, and Kinds.J. T. M. Miller - 2021 - Metaphysics 4 (1):18–31.

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