This volume puts forward a distinct new theory of direct reference, blending insights from both the Fregean and the Russellian traditions, and fitting the general theory of language understanding used by those working on the pragmatics of natural language.
This book introduces the most important problems of reference and considers the solutions that have been proposed to explain them. Reference is at the centre of debate among linguists and philosophers and, as Barbara Abbott shows, this has been the case for centuries. She begins by examining the basic issue of how far reference is a two place (words-world) or a three place (speakers-words-world) relation. She then discusses the main aspects of the field and the issues associated (...) with them, including those concerning proper names; direct reference and individual concepts; the difference between referential and quantificational descriptions; pronouns and indexicality; concepts like definiteness and strength; and noun phrases in discourse. Professor Abbott writes with exceptional verve and wit. She presupposes no technical knowledge or background and presents issues and analyses from first principles, illustrating them at every stage with well-chosen examples. Her book is addressed in the first place to advanced undergraduate and graduate students in linguistics and philosophy of language, but it will also appeal to students and practitioners in computational linguistics, cognitive psychology, and anthropology. All will welcome the clarity this guide brings to a subject that continues to challenge the leading thinkers of the age. (shrink)
This book deals with a major problem in the study of language: the problem of reference. The ease with which we refer to things in conversation is deceptive. Upon closer scrutiny, it turns out that we hardly ever tell each other explicitly what object we mean, although we expect our interlocutor to discern it. Amichai Kronfeld provides an answer to two questions associated with this: how do we successfully refer, and how can a computer be programmed to achieve this? (...) Beginning with the major theories of reference, Dr Kronfeld provides a consistent philosophical view which is a synthesis of Frege's and Russell's semantic insights with Grice's and Searle's pragmatic theories. This leads to a set of guiding principles, which are then applied to a computational model of referring. The discussion is made accessible to readers from a number of backgrounds: in particular, students and researchers in the areas of computational linguistics, artificial intelligence and the philosophy of language will want to read this book. (shrink)
The ability to produce and understand referring expressions is basic to human language use and human cognition. Reference comprises the ability to think of and represent objects (both real and imagined/fictional), to indicate to others which of these objects we are talking about, and to determine what others are talking about when they use a nominal expression. The articles in this volume are concerned with some of the central themes and challenges in research on reference within the cognitive (...) sciences - philosophy (including philosophy of language and mind, logic, and formal semantics), theoretical and computational linguistics, and cognitive psychology. The papers address four basic questions: What is reference? What is the appropriate analysis of different referring forms, such as definite descriptions? How is reference resolved? and How do speaker/writers select appropriate referring forms, such as pronouns vs. full noun phrases, demonstrative vs. personal pronouns, and overt vs. null/zero pronominal forms? Some of the papers assume and build on existing theories, such as Centering Theory and the Givenness Hierarchy framework; others propose their own models of reference understanding or production. The essays examine reference from a number of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives, informed by different research traditions and employing different methodologies. While the contributors to the volume were primarily trained in one of the four represented disciplines-computer science, linguistics, philosophy and psychology, and use methodologies typical of that discipline, each of them bridges more than one discipline in their methodology and/or their approach. (shrink)
Critical Pragmatics develops three ideas: language is a way of doing things with words; meanings of phrases and contents of utterances derive ultimately from human intentions; and language combines with other factors to allow humans to achieve communicative goals. In this book, Kepa Korta and John Perry explain why critical pragmatics provides a coherent picture of how parts of language study fit together within the broader picture of human thought and action. They focus on issues about singular reference, that (...) is, talk about particular things, places or people, which have played a central role in the philosophy of language for more than a century. They argue that attention to the 'reflexive' or 'utterance-bound' contents of utterances sheds new light on these old problems. Their important study proposes a new approach to pragmatics and should be of wide interest to philosophers of language and linguists. (shrink)
How do we refer to people in everyday conversation? No matter the language or culture, we must choose from a range of options: full name ('Robert Smith'), reduced name ('Bob'), description ('tall guy'), kin term ('my son') etc. Our choices reflect how we know that person in context, and allow us to take a particular perspective on them. This book brings together a team of leading linguists, sociologists and anthropologists to show that there is more to person reference than (...) meets the eye. Drawing on video-recorded, everyday interactions in nine languages, it examines the fascinating ways in which we exploit person reference for social and cultural purposes, and reveals the underlying principles of person reference across cultures from the Americas to Asia to the South Pacific. Combining rich ethnographic detail with cross-linguistic generalizations, it will be welcomed by researchers and graduate students interested in the relationship between language and culture. (shrink)
Previous studies have shown that language contributes to humans' ability to orient using landmarks and shapes their use of frames of reference for memory. However, the role of environmental experience in shaping spatial cognition has not been investigated. This study addresses such a possibility by examining the use of FoRs in a nonverbal spatial memory task among residents of an Andean community in Peru. Participants consisted of 97 individuals from Ancash Quechua-speaking households who spoke Quechua and/or Spanish and varied (...) considerably with respect to the extent of their experience in the surrounding landscape. The results demonstrated that environmental experience was the only factor significantly related to the preference for allocentric FoRs. The study thus shows that environmental experience can play a role alongside language in shaping habits of spatial representation, and it suggests a new direction of inquiry into the relationships among language, thought, and experience. (shrink)
Dr Thrane makes an original contribution to one of the central topics in syntax and semantics: the nature and mechanisms of reference in natural language. He makes a fundamental distinction between syntactic analyses that are internal to the structure of a language and analyses of the referential properties that connect a language with the 'outside world' - and therefore derive in some sense from common human capacities for perceptual discrimination. Dr Thrane argues that the failure to make this distinction (...) and to attend separately to both kinds of analysis has vitiated previous general accounts of linguistic structure. The book focuses particularly on pronouns and on the role of determiners, quantifiers and other components of the noun phrase. Most of the data come from the modern Germanic languages, especially English, but Dr Thrane considers also the structural peculiarities of 'classifier languages' like Vietnamese. The book will be important for students of English language as well as for general linguists. (shrink)
This book investigates the nature of the relationship between phonology and syntax and proposes a theory of Minimal Indirect Reference that solves many classic problems relating to the topic. Seidl shows that all variation across languages in phonological domain size is due to syntactic differences and a single domain parameter specific to phonology.
Two distinctions within the category of designators -- Further defining the central theses -- Structure and rigidity -- Structure and naming -- Interlude: interim review and a look ahead -- Referential uses of denoting expressions -- Complex referring expressions -- Summary, overview, and general morals.
Deborah Schiffrin looks at two important tasks of language--presenting 'who' we are talking about (the referent) and 'what happened' to them (their actions and attributes) in a narrative--and explores how this presentation alters in relation to emergent forms and meanings. Drawing on examples from both face-to-face talk and public discourse, she analyzes a variety of repairs, reformulations of referents, and retellings of narratives, ranging from word-level repairs within a single turn-at-talk, to life story narratives told years apart.
Over the past fifty years the philosophy of language and mind has been dominated by a nondescriptivist approach to content and reference. This book attempts to recast and systematize that approach by offering an indexical model in terms of mental files. According to Recanati, we refer through mental files, the function of which is to store information derived through certain types of contextual relation the subject bears to objects in his or her environment. The reference of a file (...) is determined relationally, not satisfactionally, so a file is not to be equated to the body of (mis-)information it contains. Mental files are the mental equivalent of singular terms, and the reference of linguistic expressions is inherited from that of the files we associate with them. On this approach, mental files, the vehicles of singular thought, do all the work of so-called 'modes of presentation' in Fregean and neo-Russellian theories. (shrink)
This important book proposes a new account of the nature of language, founded upon an original interpretation of Wittgenstein. The authors deny the existence of a direct referential relationship between words and things. Rather, the link between language and world is a two-stage one, in which meaning is used and in which a natural language should be understood as fundamentally a collection of socially devised and maintained practices. Arguing against the philosophical mainstream descending from Frege and Russell to Quine, Davidson, (...) Dummett, McDowell, Evans, Putnam, Kripke and others, the authors demonstrate that discarding the notion of reference does not entail relativism or semantic nihilism. A provocative re-examination of the interrelations of language and social practice, this book will interest not only philosophers of language but also linguists, psycholinguists, students of communication and all those concerned with the nature and acquisition of human linguistic capacities. (shrink)
In light of the sharp linguistic turn philosophy has taken in this century, this collection provides a much-needed and long-overdue reference for philosophical discussion. The first collection of its kind, it explores questions of the nature and existence of linguistic objects--including sentences and meanings--and considers the concept of truth in linguistics. The status of linguistics and the nature of language now take a central place in discussions of the nature of philosophy; the essays in this volume both inform these (...) discussions and lay the groundwork for further examination. (shrink)
Philosophy of linguistics is the philosophy of science as applied to linguistics. This differentiates it sharply from the philosophy of language, traditionally concerned with matters of meaning and reference.
Linguistics and philosophy have provided distinct views on the nature of reference to individuals in language. In philosophy, in particular in the tradition of direct reference, the distinction is between reference and description. In linguistics, in particular in the tradition of generative grammar, the distinction is between pronouns and R-expressions. I argue for a third conception, grounded in dynamic semantics, in which the main watershed is between definites, which trigger presuppositions that want to be bound, and indefinites, (...) which set up new discourse referents. On this view, proper names, indexicals, and definite descriptions are all analyzed as presupposition triggers. (shrink)
Meaning seems to shift from context to context; how do we know when someone says "grab a chair" that an ottoman or orange crate will do, but when someone says "let's buy a chair," they won't? In Plastic Glasses and Church Fathers, Kronenfeld offers a theory that explains both the usefulness of language's variability of reference and the mechanisms which enable us to understand each other in spite of the variability. Kronenfeld's theory, rooted in the tradition of ethnoscience (or (...) cognitive anthropology), accomplishes three things. First, it distinguishes prototypic referents from extended referents. Second, it describes the various bases of semantic extensions. Finally it details how we use the situational context of usage, the linguistic context of opposition and inclusion, and the conceptual context of knowledge about the world to interpret communicative events. (shrink)
This responds to the article by J.W.C. Touchie in this journal at 10 (1997) 317-335 commenting on my debate with Neil MacCormick regarding the linguistics of the normative syllogism, and in particular the notion of reference in the philosophy of language.
The problem of reference is central to the fields of linguistics, cognitive science, and epistemology yet it remains largely unresolved. Naming and Reference explains the reference of lexical terms, with particular emphasis placed on proper names, demonstrative pronouns and personal pronouns. It examines such specific issues as: how to account for the reference of names that are empty or speculative, which abound in science and philosophy, and how to account for intentional reference as in "he (...) took Mary to be Jane." Naming and Reference begins with a survey of the history of the subject within a philosophical and critical setting, from Locke, Brentano, Peirce, Frege, Russell, Strawson, Tarski, Carnap and Quine up to Kripke and Fodor. The rest of the book is devoted to an algorithmic theory of reference derived from Peirce's idea that signification is a three-way relationship involving a term, an object and an interpretant. The theory rounds out the causal notion of reference, while at the same time preserving Frege's distinction between sense and reference, and making a place for indexical terms. Through the use of various computer models, R. J. Nelson explores the meaning and reference of words to objects and the relationship of these phenomena to perception, belief and truth. The models used are parallel, connectionist computational models rather than the sequential models of mid-century artificial intelligence. The aim, in opposition to nativist and mental representation theories, is to account for the genesis of semantically interpretable symbols, not to assume them. (shrink)
One of the most basic themes in the philosophy of language is referential uptake, viz., the question of what counts as properly `understanding' a referring act in communication. In this inquiry, the particular line pursued goes back to Strawson's work on re-identification, but the immediate influence is that of Gareth Evans. It is argued that traditional and recent proposals fail to account for success in referential communication. A novel account is developed, resembling Evans' account in combining an external success condition (...) with a Fregean one. But, in contrast to Evans, greater emphasis is placed on the action-enabling side of communication. Further topics discussed include the role of mental states in accounting for communication, the impact of re-identification on the understanding of referring acts, and Donnellan's referential/attributive distinction. Readership: Philosophers, cognitive scientists and semanticists. (shrink)
This paper contributes data from Paraguayan Guaraní (Tupí-Guaraní) to the discussion of how temporal reference is determined in tenseless languages. The empirical focus of this study is on finite clauses headed by verbs inflected only for person/number information, which are compatible only with non-future temporal reference in most matrix clause contexts. The paper first explores the possibility of accounting for the temporal reference of such clauses with a phonologically empty non-future tense morpheme, along the lines of Matthewson’s (...) (Linguist Philos 29:673–713, 2006 ) analysis of a similar phenomenon in St’át’imcets (Salish). This analysis is then contrasted with one according to which temporal reference is not constrained by tense in Paraguayan Guaraní, but only by context and temporal adverbials. A comparison of the two analyses, both of which are couched in a dynamic semantic framework, suggests empirical and theoretical advantages of the tenseless analysis over the tensed one. The paper concludes with a discussion of cross-linguistic variation of temporal reference in tensed and tenseless languages. (shrink)
This book is an analysis of Frege's views on language metaphysics raised in On Sense Reference, arguably one of the most important philosophical essays of the past hundred years. It provides a thorough introduction to the function/argument analysis and applies Frege's technique to the central notions of predication, identity, existence and truth. Of particular interest is the analysis of the Paradox of Identity and a discussion of three solutions: the little-known Begriffsschrift solution, the sense/reference solution, and Russell's 'On (...) Denoting' solution. Russell's views wend their way through the work, serving as a foil to Frege. Appendices give the proofs of the first 68 propositions of Begriffsschrift in modern notation. This book will be of interest to students and professionals in philosophy and linguistics. (shrink)
The paper shows how ideas that explain the sense of an expression as a method or algorithm for finding its reference, preshadowed in Frege’s dictum that sense is the way in which a referent is given, can be formalized on the basis of the ideas in Thomason (1980). To this end, the function that sends propositions to truth values or sets of possible worlds in Thomason (1980) must be replaced by a relation and the meaning postulates governing the behaviour (...) of this relation must be given in the form of a logic program. The resulting system does not only throw light on the properties of sense and their relation to computation, but also shows circular behaviour if some ingredients of the Liar Paradox are added. The connection is natural, as algorithms can be inherently circular and the Liar is explained as expressing one of those. Many ideas in the present paper are closely related to those in Moschovakis (1994), but receive a considerably lighter formalization. (shrink)
Demonstrative noun phrases (e.g., that guy , this ) are of interest to philosophers of language and semanticists because they are sensitive to demonstrations or speaker intentions. The interpretation of a demonstrative therefore sheds light on the role of the context in natural language semantics. This survey reviews two types of approaches to demonstratives: Kaplan's direct reference treatment of demonstratives and other indexicals, and recent challenges to Kaplan's approach that focus on less obviously context-sensitive uses of demonstratives. The survey (...) then covers selected research on demonstratives in linguistics. This research offers new empirical puzzles and contrasting theoretical approaches to demonstratives. (shrink)
Various syntacticians have argued that coordinate structures involve a three-dimensional syntactic structure. This paper proposes an interpretation of three-dimensional syntactic structures in terms of plural reference and argues that such structures give further support for plural reference, the view that plural terms refer to several entities at once, rather than referring to a single plural individual.
This paper intends to deal with Condillacian Linguistics. Although the Condillacian philosophy of mind and analysis of language were the most important in the late eighteenth century, none of them is mentioned in Chomsky's work (1966, Cartesian Linguistics). It would be useful for the history of Western thought if Chomsky's monumental error were generally recognized and if Condillacian Linguistics were at last to find the place it rightly deserves. The main thesis of Condillac's linguistic ideas (language is the first step (...) in the analysis of thought) is briefly presented with reference to its context and consequences. (shrink)
Famously, both Saul Kripke and Keith Donnellan opposed description theories and insisted on the role of history in determining the reference of a proper name token. No wonder, then, that their views on proper names have often been assimilated. By focusing on reference borrowing—an alleged phenomenon that Kripke takes to be fundamental—we argue that they should not be. In particular, we claim that according to Donnellan a proper name token never borrows its reference from preceding tokens which (...) it is historically connected to. On the contrary, its reference is always fixed anew on who or what the speaker has in mind when he or she produces it. In fact, what is important to realize is that Donnellan and Kripke took two different histories to be relevant: that of the proper name token produced by the speaker , and that of the cognitive status of the speaker when he or she produces it . We end by suggesting that this difference between Kripke’s and Donnellan’s accounts of proper names rests on a more general difference in their approach to language. (shrink)
Ontology is a burgeoning field, involving researchers from the computer science, philosophy, data and software engineering, logic, linguistics, and terminology domains. Many ontology-related terms with precise meanings in one of these domains have different meanings in others. Our purpose here is to initiate a path towards disambiguation of such terms. We draw primarily on the literature of biomedical informatics, not least because the problems caused by unclear or ambiguous use of terms have been there most thoroughly addressed. We advance a (...) proposal resting on a distinction of three levels too often run together in biomedical ontology research: 1. the level of reality; 2. the level of cognitive representations of this reality; 3. the level of textual and graphical artifacts. We propose a reference terminology for ontology research and development that is designed to serve as common hub into which the several competing disciplinary terminologies can be mapped. We then justify our terminological choices through a critical treatment of the ‘concept orientation’ in biomedical terminology research. (shrink)
We offer a formal account of the English past tenses. We see the perfect as having reference time at speech time and the preterite as having reference time at event time. We formalize four constraints on reference time, which we bundle together under the term ‘perspective’. Once these constraints are satisfied at the different reference times of the perfect and preterite, the contrasting functions of these tenses are explained. Thus we can account formally for the ‘definiteness (...) effect’ and the ‘lifetime effect’ of the perfect, for the fact that the perfect seems to ‘explain’ something about the present, and that the perfect cannot presuppose a past time point. We explain why perfect and preterite can sometimes be interchangeable, and we offer a solution to the ’present perfect puzzle’. We explain the unacceptability of notorious examples of the perfect such as * Gutenberg has discovered the art of printing . We give greater definition to the familiar notions of ‘current relevance’ and ‘extended now’. (shrink)
[Publisher's description] -/- * Authoritative review of this dynamic field placed in an interdisciplinary context * Approximately 175 articles by leaders in the field * Compact and affordable single-volume format -/- The application of philosophy to language study, and language study to philosophy, has experienced demonstrable intellectual growth and diversification in recent decades. This work comprehensively analyzes and evaluates many of the most interesting facets of this vibrant field. An edited collection of articles taken from the award-winning Encyclopedia of Language (...) and Linguistics 2nd edition, this volume acts as a single-stop desk reference resource for the field, comprising contributions from the foremost scholars of philosophy of linguistics in their various interdisciplinary specializations. From Plato's Cratylus to Semantic and Epistemic Holism, this fascinating work authoritatively unpacks the diverse and multi-layered concepts of meaning, expression, identity, truth, and countless other themes and subjects straddling the linguistic-philosophical meridian, in 175 articles and over 900 pages. Readership: Relevant to any department, institute or individual interested in the philosophical aspects of language. (shrink)
The founder of modern linguistics, Ferdinand de Saussure inaugurated semiology, structuralism, and deconstruction and made possible the work of Jacques Derrida, Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Lacan, thus enabling the development of French feminism, gender studies, New Historicism, and postcolonialism. Based on Saussure's lectures, _Course in General Linguistics_ traces the rise and fall of the historical linguistics in which Saussure was trained, the synchronic or structural linguistics with which he replaced it, and the new look of diachronic linguistics that (...) followed this change. Most important, Saussure presents the principles of a new linguistic science that includes the invention of semiology, or the theory of the "signifier," the "signified," and the "sign" that they combine to produce. This is the first critical edition of _Course in General Linguistics_ to appear in English and restores Wade Baskin's original translation of 1959, in which the terms "signifier" and "signified" are introduced into English in this precise way. Baskin renders Saussure clearly and accessibly, allowing readers to experience his shift of the theory of reference from mimesis to performance and his expansion of poetics to include all media, including the life sciences and environmentalism. An introduction situates Saussure within the history of ideas and describes the history of scholarship that made _Course in General Linguistics_ legendary. New endnotes enlarge Saussure's contexts to include literary criticism, cultural studies, and philosophy. (shrink)
A translation of the renowned French reference book, Vocabulaire de sciences cognitives , the Dictionary of Cognitive Science presents comprehensive definitions of more than 120 terms. The editor and advisory board of specialists have brought together 60 internationally recognized scholars to give the reader a comprehensive understanding of the most current and dynamic thinking in cognitive science. Topics range from Abduction to Writing, and each entry covers its subject from as many perspectives as possible within the domains of psychology, (...) artificial intelligence, neuroscience, philosophy, and linguistics. This multidisciplinary work is an invaluable resource for all collections. (shrink)
I-Language introduces the uninitiated to linguistics as cognitive science. In an engaging, down-to-earth style Daniela Isac and Charles Reiss give a crystal-clear demonstration of the application of the scientific method in linguistic theory. Their presentation of the research programme inspired and led by Noam Chomsky shows how the focus of theory and research in linguistics shifted from treating language as a disembodied, human-external entity to cognitive biolinguistics - the study of language as a human cognitive system embedded within the mind/brain (...) of each individual. The recurring theme of equivalence classes in linguistic computation ties together the presentation of material from phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. The same theme is used to help students understand the place of linguistics in the broader context of the cognitive sciences, by drawing on examples from vision, audition, and even animal cognition.This textbook is unique in its integration of empirical issues of linguistic analysis, engagement with philosophical questions that arise in the study of language, and treatment of the history of the field. Topics ranging from allophony to reduplication, ergativity, and negative polarity are invoked to show the implications of findings in cognitive biolinguistics for philosophical issues like reference, the mind-body problem, and nature-nurture debates.This textbook contains numerous exercises and guides for further reading as well as ideas for student projects. A companion website with guidance for instructors and answers to the exercises features a series of pdf slide presentations to accompany the teaching of each topic. (shrink)
This paper proposes a method for computing the temporal aspects of the interpretations of a variety of Germa sentences. The method is strictly modular in the sense that it allows each meaning-bearing sentence constituent to make its own, separate, contribution to the semantic representation of any sentence containing it. The semantic representation of a sentence is reached in several stages. First, an ‘initial semantic representation’ is constructed, using a syntactic analysis of the sentence as input. This initial representation is then (...) transformed into the definitive representation by a series of transformations which reflect the ways in which the contributions from different constituents of the sentence interact. Since the different constituents which make their respective contributions to the meaning of the sentence are in most instances ambiguous, the initial representations are typically of a high degree of underspecification. (shrink)
In this paper, we present a framework in which we analyze three riddles about truth that are all (originally) due to Smullyan. We start with the riddle of the yes-no brothers and then the somewhat more complicated riddle of the da-ja brothers is studied. Finally, we study the Hardest Logic Puzzle Ever (HLPE). We present the respective riddles as sets of sentences of quotational languages , which are interpreted by sentence-structures. Using a revision-process the consistency of these sets is established. (...) In our formal framework we observe some interesting dissimilarities between HLPE’ s available solutions that were hidden due to their previous formulation in natural language. Finally, we discuss more recent solutions to HLPE which, by means of self-referential questions , reduce the number of questions that have to be asked in order to solve HLPE . Although the essence of the paper is to introduce a framework that allows us to formalize riddles about truth that do not involve self-reference, we will also shed some formal light on the self-referential solutions to HLPE. (shrink)