• Language

    HOW WE SAY, WHAT WE SAY.

    What we have to say may be important, but the words we choose to say it can be equally important. Words have tremendous persuasive power or power to express and elicit images, feelings and emotional associations. Weaselers are linguistic methods of hedging a bet. When inserted into a claim they help protect it from criticism by watering it down somewhat, weakening it, and giving the claim’s author a way out in case the claim is challenged. So, what a claim assents, a weaseler either minimize or takes away entirely. Without doubt you’re heard the words “up to” used as a weaselers a thousand times, especially in advertising. For example, “lose…

  • Language

    INTENTIONS AND PRESUPPOSITIONS OF CONVERSATIONS

    While it is widely agreed that the meaning of a sentence, phrase, or word must have something to do with the way that the expression is used by speaker of the language, it is not at all obvious how to move from that vague idea to a precise answer to our question. One problem is that utterances of a given sentence might be used to convey all manner of messages, many of which would be far removed from what we intuitively regard as the literal linguistics meaning of the sentence. Any account of meaning I terms of use must find a way to avoid having every innovative or idiosyncratic feature…

  • Language

    THE NATURE OF DEFINITIONS

    A definition calls attention to the fact that the (complex) concept expressed by the definiens plays an important role in the discourse in which the definendum is used. For instance, agreeing to mean by ‘prime’ a number that can be divided without remainder only by 1 and itself attention to the important of this notion for number theory. Hence the collection of definitions embodies our choice of subjects and our judgement as to what is most important. A definition may sometimes supply an analysis of an already existing concept that had not previously been made precise. In this case, the newly introduced concepts shares most or all of the traits…

  • Language

    VAGUENESS IN LANGUAGE

    Many sentences are relatively vague; others are relatively precise. A term that is perfectly precise would generate no borderline cases, and although this is often presented as a theoretical idea. It is extremely unclear that any learnable, speakable language could begin to meet it. For even basic observation admit of borderline cases, and even when care is not taken to make terms as precise as possible, unforeseen contingencies, new kinds of discovery, and things with new combinations of properties may always provide hand cases whose classification is left unclear. Sometimes vagueness can be annoying. Suppose you’re looking for a place and you’re given the following directions: “Go down the street…

  • Language

    THE PREVALENCE OF AMBIGUITY

    Ambiguity is important and it is worth examining, what the phenomenon is and how it differs and relates to similar phenomena such as indexicality, polysemy, vagueness, and especially sense generality. An uncle can be satisfied by both brothers of mothers and brothers of fathers, the phrase is not ambiguous but unspecified with respect to parent. ‘Ambiguity’ refers to a different phenomenon from many closely related cases of multiple permissible interpretations. Distinguishing ambiguity from these related phenomenon can be a difficult and tendentious affair. An ambiguity could happen by entries that are homophonous, or even co-spelled, but differ in meaning. ‘Duck’ is both a verb and a noun as is ‘cover’.…

  • Language

    CONCEPTS AND ITS CONTROVERSY

    Concepts are sometimes said to have a function in inference. We use concepts to draw inferences about the things that one categorizes. If one encounters a knife, one can infer that it is used for cutting. The knowledge that knife are used for cutting is said by many to be contained in one’s concept of knife. Thus, when one applies the concept to some things, one can use the concept to infer fact about that object. For some, concepts are not meanings. But they usually concede of language. One comes to understand a word by associating it with a concept. On either approach concepts and language will be closely related.…