LT: Category Check

Wolfgang Schulze W.Schulze at LRZ.UNI-MUENCHEN.DE
Tue Dec 18 17:29:03 UTC 2012

Dear all,
Matthew has touched upon a crucial point, I think. If we start from 
model of//language being represented by/linguistic signs/ (others say: 
constructions), we can posit a special type of such signs that is marked 
for 'categorial /signifiés/' rather for conceptual /signifiés /in the 
classical sense (this does not mean that categorial /signifiés /are not 
conceptual, but the conceptual type differs from 'standard concepts' 
from which they are often derived in terms of metonymic or in parts 
metaphorical extension). The /signifiant/-domain that is structurally 
coupled with such categorial /signifiés /(by convention or iconically) 
maybe both articulatory or structural. Altogether, the resulting 
/categorial sign/ may be related to a scientific /term /(label denoting 
a 'linguistic category') /post rem/. Hence, linguistic categories are 
/scientific artefacts/, whereas conceptual (cognitive) categories, that 
is the /signifié /of the corresponding linguistic signs, are not. This 
is the way I would handle the matter, without alluding to the question 
whether categorial /signifiés /reflect (at least in parts) universal 
properties of cognition or whether they are unique for a given language 
system (which I doubt).
Best wishes,

Am 18.12.2012 17:38, schrieb Matthew Dryer:
> Two points.
> First, Martin's suggestion of "term check" does not really apply to 
> the second part of what Frans said: discussion of typologically 
> unusual categories in particular languages is presumably discussion of 
> the category itself, independent of what term we apply to it.
> Second, Frans' wording implies that categories can be polysemous or 
> homonymous.  But it is not categories that can be polysemous; it is 
> terms for categories.  This may seem like a quibble but I think that 
> failure to distinguish categories from labels that we linguists might 
> apply to such categories is often a source of confusion and 
> misunderstanding.
> Matthew



*Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulze *


Institut für Allgemeine & Typologische Sprachwissenschaft

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