WikiDiscuss Help

Forums > WikiDiscuss > The Quandary about xorlo > The Quandary about xorlo

The Quandary about xorlo


pc:
> --- And Rosta wrote:
> > 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 went to the bathroom/doctor" is true if there
is a bathroom/doctor that I went to. So why does
English say "the"? It is not referentially specific,
and nor is there *literally* even only one individual
that could satisfy the description (cf. "the priest
that christened me" — "the" because only one priest
christened me). English says "the" because the
referent is the generic bathroom/doctor, of which
there is, intrinsically, only one.

> "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).

This is the crux. There is something that I, xorxes
and the linguistics literature on generics call
"generic", and it is the meaning of xorlo "lo",
but your interlocutors have been unable to explain
it to you to your satisfaction. This doesn't mean
that you or your interlocutors are at fault. But
I don't see any way to overcome this particular
impasse.

> 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

Dr Dr is a real doctor and is the one that is
needed.

> > 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.

The truthconditions of "I found gold in my garden"
are such that if I found any bit of gold then it
is true.

> 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.

How about "I need you"? Is that opaque? How does
it differ from "I need gold"? Or "I need John"?
Or "I need Viagra"?

--And.

 


Show posts: