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The Quandary about xorlo


posts: 2388

 


 
> pc:
> > Of course, since the main pr0oblem
> > ultimately is "What does {lo broda} mean?"
> this
> > would seem to be case of the sort discussed
> later
> > — that {lo broda} does not have any fixed
> > meaning but can shift around at someone's
> > convenience.
> >
> > > "lo broda" refers to whatever the speaker
> > > chooses
> > > (subject to the requirement that it has the
> > > property of brodahood), so it's up to the
> > > speaker
> > > whether it can refer to Mr Broda. But it is
> > > true
> > > that any speaker who doesn't like the
> notion of
> > > Mr
> > > Broda is going to have to find alternative
> ways
> > > of
> > > expressing opaque sumti. But (a) some
> speakers
> > > definitely are happy to refer to Mr Broda
> (-- I
> > > am one of them...), and (b) those other
> ways of
> > >
> > > expressing opaque sumti (e.g. your
> suggestion
> > > of
> > > using a propositional sumti of an
> appropriately
> > >
> > > defined selbri) are still going to be
> > > available.
> >
> >
> > Well, I am glad they are available, but that
> > doesn't help with the fact that they are not
> > obligatory, which is what is needed here --
> > unless Mr. Potato Head or its equivalents
> can be
> > specified. I think the "{lo broda} can mean
> > whatever the speaker wants as long as it is a
> > broda" is very telling — this means that
> > communication — except among telepaths --
> > becomes a much more risky business than it
> > ordinarily is, even if the speaker sticks to
> the
> > same meaning for several sentences (which, in
> the
> > opaque cases he usually does not).
>
> 1. One might see "I went to the doctor today",
> "Go
> to the toilet/bathroom", "I get the bus to
> work" as
> involving Mr Doctor, Mr Toilet, Mr Bus. They
> are
> all generics, and appear not to involve
> quantification
> or referential specificity. To me, "I need a
> doctor"
> and "I need the doctor" mean the same ("I need
> medical
> attention"). And "the doctor" in "I need the
> doctor"
> seems the same as in "Have you gone to the
> doctor about
> this problem?". Thus it seems that a
> satisfactory way
> of expressing genericity will also yield a
> satisfactory
> way of expressing opaque sumti.

Well, it is not clear that "I went to the doctor
today" — presumably a particular identifiable
doctor and one that the hearer can identify at
least in some small way — or "Go to the
bathroom" — whatever one is available most
relatively near, and so on — are not generic at
all. "I get the bus" is more nearly generic in
that the bus token may be different on each day
though the bus type is the same or pretty much so
(Lojban — and english — is lousy on token-type
ambiguity) "I need the doctor" seems to me also
to be specific to the extent of implicating that
there is one designated in the common
environment. But, if there is not, if it means
essentially the same as "I need a doctor," then I
don't see what the point is here, for this is not
a generic reference in any so far expounded sense
of "generic" (and I have been trying to get
someone to explain that "generic reference" in
the first definition of {lo} since that page
first appeared). And, insofar as I can get clear
statements of what happens, the Dr. Dr. reading
simply will not help: I don't need Dr. Dr. but a
real doctor and Dr. Dr. is not even a doctor, let
alone the one I need (Thinking it is a doctor
seems to come from the fact that "lo mikce cu
mikce" is almost a tautolgy — failing only if
there are no mikce and perhaps when what is
selected to be called {lo mikce} doesn't happen
to be a mikce. But {lo mikce cu mikce} is true
only for distributive predication (well, maybe
disjunctive) and what is needed to make Dr.Dr. be
a doctor in the appropriate sense is individual
predication, which does not hold. Of course,
even if it did hold, the opacity problem wpould
not be solved, for I do not need Dr. Dr., who, if
a doctor, is one of the doctor in the domain,
none of which is needed — since another would do
as well.)

> 2. The claim is not that {lo broda} can *mean*
> whatever
> the speaker wants it to, but rather that it can
> (because
> of its genericity) *refer* to whatever whatever
> broda
> the speaker wants it to. Consider English mass
> nouns
> like "water" or "gold" — any bit of gold can
> be
> referred to as "gold".

The analogy escapes me. Referring to a single
object as "gold" is to identify it by its
substance, not to identify it as that substance
tout court. Doctors are presumably not made of
Dr. Dr.; if anything, Dr. Dr. is made of them.
Note that genericity — asexemplified by mass
nouns at least — doesn't help with opacity: "I
need gold" has the same problems as "I need a
doctor:" there is no gold that I need because
some other would do as well nor do I need all the
gold there is (or ever will have been or might
possibly be). That is, "gold" in that context
refers even less than it does in other contexts.

> > iIncidentally, in any useful sense of Mr.
> Broda,
> > it is not a broda. If it is, then it clearly
> > cannot solve the opaque "problem"
>
> "Mr Broda is broda", "lo broda cu broda" are
> true.
> Just like "Mr Pycyn has the property of
> pycynhood" is.

See above. It is just playing two side of an
ambiguity — one in which it does what you want
and one in whihc it is true.

> I think it does solve the opaque problem: see
> (1) above.

I don't even see that it solves the (usual)
generic problems. 1) certainly doesn't point in
that direction.

 


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