[lit-ideas] Re: "The African Language" (Was: Julie's Query)

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 31 Jul 2004 11:14:59 EDT

 
 
We are discussing if Julie was right in asking, "Do you know the African  
language?". R. Paul, a logician, replied, "There's no such thing as _the_  
African language; there are _African languages_." This struck me as a 
nominalist  
gambit.
 
M. Chase agrees:
 
>Granted the existence of "African languages", 
>does this imply the existence of "the African 
>language"? Surely not.  For the use of *the* + 
>the singular in English implies unicity.



I suppose it must be an 'implicature', rather than an 'implication' (note  
that Chase freely uses 'imply', and 'implies'), for Julie was asking about 
_the_ 
 African language, when she possibly meant _any_ African language.
 
The logical form of a 'the' ascription was identified long ago by Russell  
("The king of France is bald"). In a world where there is _no_ king of France,  
the 'the' form and the 'the'-less form are equivalent ("Kings of France are  
bald"). 

QED.
 
Cheers,
 
JL


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