for philosophical questions concerning the nature, origins, and usage of natural language

learn more… | top users | synonyms

6
votes
1answer
114 views

How old is linguistics as a discipline?

I hear a lot of people talk about how "new" linguistics is, or how "small" it is compared to other fields. Pāṇini studied grammar in the 4th century BC. Surely it didn't take until recent history to ...
0
votes
0answers
38 views

Language and Technological Superiority

Think about the English language: it is very simple, consisting of only 26 letters. And to my understanding, European languages have finite alphabets as well. Now compare that to Chinese, which has no ...
3
votes
2answers
68 views

What is the extension and intension of “I'm writing an exam right now.”

I study undergraduate philosophy. I enrolled in a semantics class this semester, which just held its first exam. One of the questions asked, What is the extension, and the intension, of "I'm ...
2
votes
1answer
95 views

Root reduplication to mean singular

In different languages reduplication of the root serves as a means to express plurality (Malay 'orang' - 'a person', 'orang-orang' - 'people') or a greater degree (Russian 'много' - 'many, much', ...
6
votes
4answers
224 views

Did a “cave man-style” language ever exist?

I recently had a discussion with a friend about whether a "cave man-style" language was likely to have ever existed. You know, the stereotypical "Fire bad! Need hunt, go tree-place now!" sort of ...
1
vote
1answer
83 views

Why do we use “someone” to signify one person?

I can't come up with a better title so let me just say that I'm sorry for misleading you if this question isn't even close to what you expected. First of all my observation: In the three languages ...
8
votes
2answers
265 views

Ontological status of syntactic transformations

Syntactic theories in the generative tradition involve transformations, i.e. movement of constituents, between deep structure and surface structure. What is actually meant by this? Is it intended as a ...
2
votes
0answers
52 views

What does it mean that cognition is linguistic in itself?

Cognition is, generally speaking, ‘linguistic’ in itself, in that it is the manipulation of language-like structures (propositions) according to formal rules; (b) the function of natural language is ...
2
votes
2answers
195 views

The Liar's Paradox : a linguistic perspective

The sentence "This sentence is false." is a paradox (called the "liar's paradox) as even though being well formed it is a contradiction. While logicians can call this a case of un-decidability what ...
3
votes
1answer
130 views

Body parts and metaphor

Across languages, body parts are used as part of a metaphor, whether it is in an idiom or in a phrasal construction. Do any know of any survey like academic paper that investigates the whys and hows ...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

Why is jargon sometimes used instead of familiar words?

I wonder why certain words are used in occupations when possibly a common known synonym could also be used? Examples: in law, desist instead of stop, cease in economics, parity instead of ...
2
votes
2answers
102 views

Is the evolution & development of language better described by Deleuze concept of the rhizome than the traditional tree?

I originally asked this question on philosophy.stackexchange, but the consensus was that this was better asked here Deleuze & Guattari introduce the idea of the rhizome in their text A thousand ...
6
votes
1answer
149 views

Does the phrase “thinking in a language” have empirical meaning?

In discussions of language learning, multilingualism, and related topics, I hear references to "thinking in a language." Two questions on this stack exchange list have referenced this, namely "What ...
1
vote
0answers
76 views

What is the exact domain of a grammar? [closed]

E.g. transformational grammars or probabilistic grammars deal with language structures, branching, semantic ranging, etc. They are dealing with more or less 'rational', or logical cocepts. But what ...
0
votes
2answers
108 views

Do descriptivists differ from prescriptivists in how, or whether, they determine correctness?

Do descriptivists differ from prescriptivists in how they determine whether something is correct? Or do they differ in whether or not they determine whether something is correct? For example, if 80% ...
-1
votes
3answers
223 views

Can any one experience the World without a language? if yes to what extent, if no, why not?

I am exploring of a possibility of experiencing the world around without a language. By listening, speaking, seeing and reflecting on words made by the alphabets of a language - one experiences the ...
4
votes
2answers
208 views

Could a constructed non-symbolic language be created?

Would the proper term for it really be "non-symbolic language"? Every language up until now uses symbols at various forms – vowel sounds and consonants are symbols; syllables, which are ...
6
votes
1answer
206 views

Usage of definite articles in Germanic and Romance languages

In the Germanic languages, a generic construction using the definite article with mass nouns is unacceptable. In contrast, Romance languages require the definite article to make the generic ...
5
votes
3answers
494 views

Why can't agreeing be an explicit performative?

I'm having a hard time determining when an utterance passes the thereby-test and thus can be considered to be an explicit performative. An utterance in the first-person singular indicative ...
5
votes
1answer
270 views

What does the term “ontology” mean vis a vis the study of natural language?

Many of us know that the term "ontology" applies to the a priori philosophical study of the nature of existence. Ontology is a branch of metaphysics (the attempt to coherently characterize reality a ...
3
votes
3answers
347 views

Which languages are used for purposes other than facilitating communication?

Although it seems that most languages are used to facilitate communication, some languages seem to have secondary purposes as well. For instance, expatriates of a nation may continue to speak the ...
1
vote
1answer
78 views

Metrics of evaluating the successfulness of persuasive language

Given a large number of sets of historical documents that are each divided into two subsets: each subset advocating a position in a legal dispute (i.e. one set for a plaintiff and one for a ...
29
votes
8answers
2k views

Why do we have interest in (dying) language preservation?

When we read the news related to dying languages, normally this is painted as bad news and it's really important to preserve the language, see Language at risk of dying out (Guardian) or Digital tools ...
4
votes
0answers
175 views

Where did Peirce publish his triadic model of signs?

A triadic model of signs can be found by various researchers. Probably the most famous illustration is the diagram in Ogden and Richards's The Meaning of Meaning (page 11, digitized here). It is also ...
4
votes
2answers
189 views

Is explanation part of Historical Linguistics?

I am reading John McWhorter’s "Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue". One thing called my attention in the book: he spends a great deal of effort trying to show the reader how scholars have thoroughly ...
8
votes
2answers
266 views

Bar-Hillel's critique of machine translation 50 years later

More than fifty years ago, philosopher Yehoshua Bar-Hillel wrote wrote an influential paper about computerized translation entitled: A Demonstration of the Nonfeasibility of Fully Automatic High ...
4
votes
0answers
326 views

What is the origin of the “hierarchy of projections”, the language system or (some) conceptual system?

All languages display some form of the hierarchy of projections, to the extent we understand what this is: in a given clause, roughly, complementizers are higher than inflectional heads are higher ...
13
votes
5answers
1k views

Why is prescriptivism criticized?

Several linguists criticize prescriptivism. Stephen Pinker is probably the one to have made the strongest case against it. But, is their criticism based on a methodological principle (the abstraction ...