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

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3answers
67 views

What are the uses of language in thought? [closed]

In Bertrand Russell's Analysis of Mind, after he gave only a few examples, he wrote "But it is unnecessary to prolong the catalogue of the uses of language in thought." At the height of excitement, I ...
2
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2answers
96 views

Question re connection between language and knowledge [closed]

Humans were/are learning about nature via identifying, observing and studying objects and relations between those objects. At the same time humans were/are assigning names to those identified objects ...
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7answers
226 views

Is Language infinite?

Can a Natural Language (like English for instance) describe anything? Are our thoughts limited by our language? If the number of words in a Natural Language is a finite set, can this set describe an ...
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1answer
124 views

Any difference between natural and programming languages?

First of all, as a native German speaker, I apologise for my incorrect use of the English language. After thinking about some different languages and wandering astray on this exact Stack Exchange, I ...
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0answers
51 views

Composite truth tables for sentence relations (entailment, synonymy,etc.)

I'm using John Saeed's 'Semantics'. Now in chap 4 I see he is trying to formalize sentence relations such as entailment, synonymy, contradiction, etc., by some kind of different truth tables he calls ...
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2answers
91 views

Are there systematic studies on HOW language features/characteristics are formed?

(I don't know whether this is a genuine "linguistics" problem as of how "linguistics" is defined, but it has bothered my curiosity for so long I have to ask it somewhere.) When we scientifically ...
6
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1answer
134 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 ...
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0answers
50 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 ...
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2answers
77 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
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1answer
104 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
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4answers
283 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 ...
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2answers
121 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 ...
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2answers
312 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 ...
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0answers
54 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
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2answers
216 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 ...
4
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1answer
143 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 ...
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3answers
2k 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
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2answers
112 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
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1answer
177 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 ...
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0answers
78 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 ...
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2answers
128 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% ...
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3answers
230 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 ...
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2answers
228 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
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1answer
229 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
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3answers
587 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
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1answer
291 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 ...
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3answers
413 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 ...
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1answer
84 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 ...
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8answers
3k 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 ...
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0answers
183 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
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2answers
198 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 ...
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2answers
331 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
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0answers
357 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 ...
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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 ...