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Questions tagged [philosophy-of-language]

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

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74 views

Is there a linguistic notion of a “static” vs “dynamic” noun?

I would have typed a clearer question in the title, but it would have been way too long. By "static," I mean a word or phrase that refers to one object, and one object only. ex. The Eiffel Tower The ...
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46 views

How is a meaningful sentence or paragraph constructed?

I don't have a formal background of linguistics, but I'd like to know how a sentence or paragraph becomes meaningful to a reader, and how one can construct that. I think it falls to the areas of ...
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29 views

How do Semantics + Pragmatics differ from Philosophy of Language?

I can't spot the differences? https://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_philosophy_of_language.html: Philosophy of Language is the reasoned inquiry into the origins of language, the nature of ...
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3answers
160 views

To which extent language exists disconnected from the physical world?

If I would put you in a closed room with a computer containing terabytes of alien written symbols. Those aliens are from another dimension where the physical laws are different and our understanding ...
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128 views

Is there any “standard” definition of “linguistic input”?

Recently, I've started wondering how to characterize "linguistic input" and realized that the notion is very rarely unpacked. It seems as if everyone takes it to be obvious, and immediately goes to ...
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67 views

Does Reduplication oppose any Gricean Maxim?

Reduplication (a natural language feature) which changes meaning, pluralize, emphasize etc. is basically doubling of the word, partially doubling it or doubling it with phonetic constraints. Grice's ...
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77 views

Making Sense of Nonsense: [Corner/Quine] Quotes!

Currently working on a problem set where we are using quine quotes (corner quotes) and normal quotes to distinguish use and mention. In class I felt that examples were much simpler, both of these ...
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93 views

Who first said that no two words mean the exact same?

A friend of mine told me that German philologists (whom he did not name) in the 18th century were the first ones to argue that in any natural language no two words can mean exactly the same. Is this ...
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examples for indoeuropean languages which are related to each other in different ways [closed]

community, I am currently writing an essay on Ludwig Wittgenstein's Family Resemblance Analogy (Philosophy of Language) and I need your help to find a neat example. I have thought of indoeuropean ...
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75 views

Is this what English/Mandarin Chinese or other 21st century dominant langauges would eventually do too? (details below)(yup that's opinion based) [closed]

Umbrians, for example, continued to make inscriptions in their language for centuries after Roman annexation. But eventually the power and status of Latin prevailed, particularly after all residents ...
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2answers
631 views

Morphology vs Etymology

Morphology is the component of grammar that builds words out of units of meaning(morphemes) where a morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit of language. Etymology is the study of the origin of words ...
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2answers
90 views

Are there any two languages which have been interpreted to different forms from speech?

I have absolutely no idea where to begin with this question, but I think I can summarise it in such a way that someone might know the answer. The exact thing I'm looking at is if two people met and ...
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2answers
352 views

What is the minimal set of words that make a language “complete”?

In programming languages, there is a concept of turing completeness - whenever a system reaches "turing completeness", it is capable of emulating any programming language and, thus, as expressive as ...
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3answers
1k views

Is math a language?

Is math a language? Is "language" a comprehensive description of mathematics? Maybe this is just a trivial description... or possibly there something about mathematics that is missed by describing it ...
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2answers
130 views

Usage of pluperfect in English to talk about metaphysical possibility in the present

I hope that this is the right SE site to ask my question (as opposed to philosophy.SE and english.SE). I am interested in and know some logic, so I talk often with philosopher of language, even ...
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3answers
259 views

How would a trained linguist describe this hypothesis of Symbolic Leverage

Context Two economics students are attempting to describe a concept of language, but do not know of any formally-recognized terms or research that explain this concept. They believe there is an ...
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2answers
330 views

Besides logics, what mathematical tools are used in the study of linguistics?

I learned of connections between linguistics and category theory when I'm learning the application of category theory in quantum field theory. Being aware that axiomatic set theory (logics) is ...
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1answer
56 views

To be or not to be - you got to be somewhere to be something or you are where you are? [closed]

I wonder, in Spanish we have to different words for to be (location) and to be (description) from my point of view, as a natural Spanish speaker tho I've spoken English all my life, just not as much, ...
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Could we rank languages, saying one is superior to the other?

Now and then I am faced with claims that language A is better than B, because of some grammar rules or words or ... But is there really a standard or a method to analyse a language from different ...
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1answer
203 views

What are the practical implications of Ludwig Wittgenstein's theories in the field of linguistics?

I was wondering how has the field of linguistics was changed (altered? untouched?) by Ludwig Wittgenstein's theories in Tractatus and the Philosophical Investigations. All Wittgenstein's work deals ...
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78 views

Truth-neutral, truth-indifferent, & truth-committed verbs?

In English, I go to the store. is understood to mean It is true that I go to the store. Suppose I want to succinctly express I am indifferent to whether it is true or false that I go to ...
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1answer
164 views

Examples of small, minimalistic natural languages?

I was reading about a constructed language called "Toki Pona" that is touted to have only 120 words. I wanted to know are there any examples of any natural languages notable for their simplicity or ...
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dictionary with the smallest number of circularly defined words

Motivation: words in a dictionary are defined in terms of other words, but at some point it becomes circular: words defined by other words that have also been defined using some of the same words. ...
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3answers
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Searching bibliography to develop a pure a priori language

I need some help with bibliography to fill some topics that a need for my project. Im trying to create a pure a priori language where phonetic and syllable are linked to root meaning of words and ...
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0answers
97 views

What philologists influenced Wittgenstein's idea of family resemblance?

Wittgenstein coined the term "family resemblance" for collections with multiple overlapping similarities as opposed to universally shared traits. Wikipedia mentions that "It has been suggested that ...
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3answers
244 views

How does 'unless' mean 'or' or 'if not'? [closed]

Source: p 139, Introduction to Logic (2 ed, 2010) by Harry J. Gensler. [1.] Translate “unless” as “or.” ...     [eg: A unless B =  B unless A = Either A or B]. [2.] “Unless” is also ...
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237 views

How can two phrases refer to the same object, but have different meanings?

Source: Lecture 1-5 (transcription), ... How to Reason and Argue, by Prof W Sinnott-Armstrong The following is from a question that pops up during the video at 3 min 14 seconds. [Question:] When ...
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1answer
82 views

What are the blanket or general terms representing these linguistic pitfalls?

Are there collective, sweeping official terms that comprise linguistic traps such as these? Etymological fallacy Folk etymology False friend False cognate False etymology
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2answers
164 views

Did people actually used poetic languages like Latin and Persian for basic spoken communication?

I can't help but notice the older generation frequently scolding the younger ones of corrupting the language by introducing words like lol, ASAP, brb, OMG, pj, etc. Indeed, with the astronomical ...
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2answers
140 views

What stats are available to estimate the possibly coming “World language”?

My definition of the "World language" is the language most people can understand and use as an international language—not necessarily the language most spoken. Background: A hater of English argued ...
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2answers
297 views

Is music a language?

I am a musician. I read an article in the NY Times that suggested both words and musical melodies follow Zipf's Law. I had never really thought about it before, but I started wondering do linguists ...
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2answers
531 views

In which languages does “right” mean both a direction and “correct” (or another positive meaning)? [duplicate]

In Islam right direction symbolize good things and I realize that phenomenon in some languages (English, Russian). Are there other languages like this and where does this phenomenon come from?
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Can you give some examples of counter-intuitive phenomena discovered by linguists?

By counter-intuitive I mean, contrary to intuition of native speakers of some language, or contrary to some popular knowledge about languages (apart many cases of folk etymology)? (e. g. "strange" ...
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1answer
83 views

What's the difference between separated languages and a separated dialects? [duplicate]

In the context of international languages, i've seen multiple instances of languages that are mutually intelligible but are considered different languages: Serbian and Croatian Luxembourgish and High ...
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2answers
157 views

Is there a good introduction to subjectivity in language?

Since the topic of "subjectivity in language" is all new to me, I am looking for an introduction to the topic that 1) gives an overview of the phenomena usually associated with the topic (...
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3answers
93 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 ...
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2answers
419 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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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
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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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574 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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370 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 ...
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3answers
682 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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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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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 ...
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1answer
210 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', '...
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4answers
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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
158 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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677 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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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 ...
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429 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 ...