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The Quandary about xorlo


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> I can't really afford the time for this, so may
> have to
> withdraw from the discussion soon.
>
> pc:
> > --- And Rosta wrote:
> > > "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
> >
> > But of course it is: the one I went to is
> quite
> > specific and is the one being referred to in
> this
> > case. To be sure, who it is may not be
> > important, etc., but it is still there.
>
> No, specificity affects truthconditions,
> because
> reference must be fixed before truthconditions
> apply. But the 'reference' of "the doctor" is
> irrelevant here; so long as I went to a doctor,
> "I went to the doctor" is true, and not
> contingent
> on which doctor "the doctor" refers to.

True, it doesn't depend on that but that does not
mean that there is not a doctor that I went to
and who makes the claim true. We may not know or
care who it is but he is there nonetheless. Why
isn't he what is referred to by "the doctor."
Otherwise it just collapses to "a doctor," which
is all right, too, — and still doesn't get any
generic doctors involved.

> > > 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).
> >
> > Yes, I might have gone to another doctor just
> as
> > effectively, but I did go to this one.
>
> That's a fact about the world, not about the
> meaning
> of the sentence.

I thought the meaning of the sentence was a fact
about the world. I don't get the point here.
You may not know or care who the doctor was, but
tht doesn't mean I am not referring to him
(indeed, I may not knpow or care either).

> > Now, "I
> > will go to the doctor" is another matter.
> >
> > English says "the" because the
> > > referent is the generic bathroom/doctor, of
> > > which
> > > there is, intrinsically, only one.
> >
> > What the Hell is a generic doctor? I
> certainly
> > didn't go to one (unless you mean a GP or
> "Family
> > Practitioner"); I went to a very specific
> one.
> > Which is a good thing, because specific ones
> are
> > all there are.
>
> That's a matter of ontological opinion, not of
> fact.

You need to develop an ontology in which there
are such things. Until you do, I'll stick with
what is "given" (things, abstractions and sets --
and maybe bunches — for Lojban and pretty much
the same for English).

> Suppose I can perceive the generic doctor and
> you
> can't. If {lo mikce} is the generic doctor,
> then
> I can understand what it means and you can't.
> Is
> that so different from, say, how the words
> "red"
> and "green" are to a colourblind person, or
> "shrill"
> to someone deaf from birth?

The trouble is that I understand the sentence
perfectly well — by any test you care to make
other than talking about generic doctors. The
generic doctor is superfluous; if it does
anything at all — which needs to be demonstrated
-- the same can be done without it.

> > Getting a coherent notion of what the
> mumbo-jumbo
> > is about would help. As far as I can tell,
> there
> > is nothing in Linguistics that covers this
> issue
> > in a relevant way.
>
> I remember having had this discussion before,
> so
> won't repeat it now.
Me too. I think it might help to get this round
(about the fourth with this group and something
like the tenth for the last 30 years (and a
couple more I know of in the previous 10) off to
a better start if we settled one question first.
There is a pattern of dealing with these issues
that goes back at least to the mid 1960s. It has
changed in details within each of the logical
languages but has remained constant in spirit and
broad construction. My position is a current
version of that tradition. Is your objection to
my position or the tradition of which it is a
part? In either case is the objection that it
doesn't work in fact or that it doesn't work in
principle. Or is the objection that, though it
works it is too messy or too hard or some other
extrinsic criterion? For the record, my
objection to your views (in so far as they are
more than examples and unsupported claims) is
that it doesn't work in principle and also that
it is too messy (and yet too simpleminded).

> > > > 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.
> >
> > Not so on the first point (since there is no
> > particular doctor I need and, if Dr. Dr. is a
> > doctor he is a particular one).
>
> Dr Dr is all doctors.

Say what? I don't need all doctors either, just
one. And a concrete one at that.

> > > > > 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.
> >
> > Yes. And so?
>
> Mr Broda works like an English mass noun in
> this
> respect (-- indeed, I believe names are mass
> nouns).
> The point was that when you consider the normal
> behaviour of English mass nouns, the behaviour
> of Mr Broda seems less odd.

I just don't see the analogy at all. If I find a
bit of gold, I find gold; if I find a bit of a
doctor, I find a doctor. No, that can't be it.
Ah: if I find a bit of Dr. Dr. — that is, a
doctor — then I find a doctor. Except for the
useless bit about bits of Dr. Dr. that is a
tautology and every bit as informative as they
usually are. And it doesn't help at all with
opacity: there is no bit of Dr. Dr. that I need
either (I just need the event of my having a
doctor).

 


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