Descriptions which have grown capital letters

Mind and Language 30 (3):292-319 (2015)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Almost entirely ignored in the linguistic theorising on names and descriptions is a hybrid form of expression which, like definite descriptions, begin with 'the' but which, like proper names, are capitalised and seem to lack descriptive content. These are expressions such as the following, 'the Holy Roman Empire', 'the Mississippi River', or 'the Space Needle'. Such capitalised descriptions are ubiquitous in natural language, but to which linguistic categories do they belong? Are they simply proper names? Or are they definite descriptions with unique orthography? Or are they something else entirely? This paper assesses two obvious assimilation strategies: (i) assimilation to proper names and (ii) assimilation to definite descriptions. It is argued that both of these strategies face major difficulties. The primary goal is to lay the groundwork for a linguistic analysis of capitalised descriptions. Yet, the hope is that clearing the ground on capitalised descriptions may reveal useful insights for the on-going research into the semantics and syntax of their lower-case or 'the'-less relatives.

Similar books and articles

Public Proper Names, Idiolectal Identifying Descriptions.Stavroula Glezakos - 2009 - Linguistics and Philosophy 32 (3):317-326.
Kripke on proper names.Baruch A. Brody - 1979 - In A. French Peter, E. Uehling Theodore, Howard Jr & K. Wettstein (eds.), Contemporary Perspectives in the Philosophy of Language. University of Minnesota Press. pp. 64-69.
Empty Names and Pragmatic Millianism.Seyed N. Mousavian - 2014 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 3 (1):49-58.
The double life of 'The mayor of Oakland'.Michael Rieppel - 2013 - Linguistics and Philosophy 36 (5):417-446.
Puzzles about descriptive names.Edward Kanterian - 2009 - Linguistics and Philosophy 32 (4):409-428.
Russell was right (almost).Kent Bach - 1983 - Synthese 54 (2):189 - 207.
Names Are Predicates.Delia Graff Fara - 2015 - Philosophical Review 124 (1):59-117.
Names, Descriptions, and Assertion.Ray Buchanan - 2014 - In Zsu-Wei Hung (ed.), Communicative Action. Springer. pp. 03-15.
Proper Names and Relational Modality.Peter Pagin & Kathrin Gluer - 2006 - Linguistics and Philosophy 29 (5):507 - 535.
Proper names as rigid presuppositions.Emar Maier - 2007 - In Estella Puig-Waldmüller (ed.), Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung 11. pp. 418-32.
A Here-Now Thery of Indexicality.Gilbert Plumer - 1993 - Journal of Philosophical Research 18:193-211.
Searle on proper names.Michael McKinsey - 1971 - Philosophical Review 80 (2):220-229.

Analytics

Added to PP
2014-06-12

Downloads
1,762 (#5,584)

6 months
131 (#29,504)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Brian Rabern
University of Edinburgh

Citations of this work

Type-Ambiguous Names.Anders J. Schoubye - 2017 - Mind 126 (503):715-767.
Names in strange places.Aidan Gray - 2017 - Linguistics and Philosophy 40 (5):429-472.
Names vs nouns.Laura Delgado - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (11):3233-3258.

View all 8 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Naming and Necessity: Lectures Given to the Princeton University Philosophy Colloquium.Saul A. Kripke - 1980 - Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Edited by Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel.
Naming and necessity.Saul A. Kripke - 2010 - In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Arguing about language. New York: Routledge. pp. 431-433.
On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 1905 - Mind 14 (56):479-493.
Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 1980 - Philosophy 56 (217):431-433.

View all 48 references / Add more references