Ruch Filozoficzny 77 (1):7-24 (2021)

The subject matter of this work covers the issues or problems listed below: * The problem of the ontological status of language signs and a more general philosophical problem connected with it: * What is language as a system of signs, which – on the one hand – serves to: 1) represent our knowledge about the reality which is being recognized, and, on the other one to: 2) a. explore and better cognize or discover it, b. describe it in an adequate manner, and c. enable users to make interpersonal communication? All the pragmatic functions of language require carrying out its logical-philosophical analysis, and this means both regarding its syntax and semantics. Such an analysis is not possible without determining the following: How are signs perceived and what is their ontological nature in the so-called functional approach towards logical semiotics of natural language, founded on two ways of their usage: either as signs which we use in concrete situational or situational-language contexts or as isolated signs detached from such contexts? In the first case, they are language tokens (concretes), existing material objects perceived through the senses, with a fixed temporal-spatial location, in the other one – they are non-concretes and as such (as the majority of researchers in the field of philosophy and linguistics accept) – abstract objects, language types. The type-token distinction (differentiation between abstract and concrete) has already acquired a certain status in contemporary philosophy and is of considerable importance to metaphysics and epistemology in particular. Indeed, it is most often illustrated with reference to language signs (words, expressions) as the distinction type/token of a sign, introduced into semiotics by Ch. S. Peirce. In the semiotic analysis, and also in the linguistic one, there are used both types and tokens of signs, however, often without paying due attention to when it is said about types and when about tokens. This is related to the problems which are still considered by the philosophy of language: What is the type? What is the token (specimen)? What are the mutual relations between the type and the token? Disputes concerning providing answers to these questions are related to existential issues dealing with the ontological status of these language signs and two currents within the ontology of language, remaining under the influence of two fundamental concepts formed in the debate: nominalism and realism. The author presents in brief different stances on the above-mentioned issues or problems, as well as argues that from the logical point of view: 1) working out any theoretical conception of language must take into account its bi-aspectual characteristics: as a language of expression-tokens and as a language of expression-types; 2) advocating either of the standpoints: (a) types exist independent of their tokens, or (b) it is not so, can be omitted in syntactic considerations on language; 3) mutual relations between sign-tokens differ from the mutual relations between sign-types, yet; 4) determination of the mutual relation between sign-types and sign-tokens depends on accepting either of the standpoints: (a) or (b); 5) semantic or semantic-pragmatic concepts of language, such as meaning, denotation, interpretation should be defined exclusively for types of tokens, but their definitions require certain reference to the functions which sign-tokens perform in the language (words, expressions), or to relations between them; 6) The concept of an act of language communication differs from general language communication: the first one is defined by means of sign-tokens, whereas the other one – with the use of sign-types.
Keywords sign-tokens  sign-types  dual ontological status of language signs  nominalism and realism in philosophy of language  token-token relations  type-type relations  type-token relations
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DOI 10.12775/rf.2021.001
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Works and Worlds of Art.Nicholas Wolterstorff - 1980 - Oxford University Press.
Types and Tokens.Linda Wetzel - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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