17.987, Disc: Common Nouns;Capital Tresillo/Cuatrillo in Unicode

Mon Apr 3 13:29:57 UTC 2006

LINGUIST List: Vol-17-987. Mon Apr 03 2006. ISSN: 1068 - 4875.

Subject: 17.987, Disc: Common Nouns;Capital Tresillo/Cuatrillo in Unicode

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Date: 02-Apr-2006
From: Michael Covington < <mc at uga.edu> >
Subject: Re: 17.836, Why are there Common Nouns? 

Date: 23-Mar-2006
From: Jim Fidelholtz < fidelholtz at gmail.com >
Subject: Re:  17.869, Capital Tresillo/Cuatrillo in Unicode 

-------------------------Message 1 ---------------------------------- 
Date: Mon, 03 Apr 2006 09:26:15
From: Michael Covington < <mc at uga.edu> >
Subject: Re: 17.836, Why are there Common Nouns? 

My question was why human languages have chosen to encode some one-place       
 predicates (such as lambda(x).dog(x) ) as nouns, which are syntactically like
names (logical constants), rather than as adjectives (lambda(x).green(x) ) or verbs 
(lambda(x).barks(x) ).

Larry Horn gave me a very helpful reply, citing "Kripke's and Putnam's arguments
that common nouns are in many, perhaps most, cases names for kinds of things,
with extensions determined by direct reference, rather than descriptive entities
whose reference is determined via sense...   In this case, the relation between
proper and common "names" is relatively natural."

References are:
Kripke, Saul.  1980.  Naming and Necessity.  Harvard U. Press.  Originally
published in a different format in Davidson & Harman, eds., Semantics of Natural
Language.  Dordrecht: Reidel, 1972.             

Putnam, Hilary.  1975.  The meaning of meaning.  Anthologized in various
places, including his _Mind, Language, and Reality, vol. 1_ (Cambridge U.
Press, 1975) and his Philosophical Papers (also CUP, 1975).

Rudy Troike pointed out that not all languages use common nouns for things     
   like lambda(x).dog(x).  Hopi, for instance, can use a verb.  He also mentions
that the key idea of the DP Hypothesis is that "noun phrases" (DP) and verb
phrases or sentences (IP, CP) are not as radically different as their names suggest.

Joyce McDonough and Eve Danziger added several more languages to the list  of
those in which the equivalents of our common nouns need not be nouns.

Several people referred me to literature on *proper* nouns, and I haven't      
  digested all of it yet well enough to know whether it's relevant.  

Isabelle Buchstaller referred me to:
Searle, J. R. (1969). Speech Acts: An essay on the philosophy of language.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Page 170 and thereabout.

Van Langendonck, W. (1999). Neurolinguistic and syntactic evidence for basic
level meaning in proper names. Functions of Language 6: 95-138.    

Lewis Howe referred me to:
Burge, Tyler. 1973. Reference and Proper names. Journal of Philosophy        

Dowty, David R., Robert E. Wall, and Stanley Peters. 1981. Introduction to
Montague Semantics. Dordrecht/Boston/London: Kluwer. 

Kripke, Saul A. 1980. Naming and Necessity. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. 

Searle, John. 1958. Proper Names. Mind 67.166-173. 

Strawson, P.F. 1959. Individuals. New York: Doubleday.

Aubrey Nunes referred me to 2 recent books by Hagit Borer on the projection
of syntactic structures.

Thanks to all for responding!

Michael A. Covington - Associate Director
Artificial Intelligence Center - www.ai.uga.edu
The University of Georgia
111 Boyd GSRC, Athens, GA 30602-7415 U.S.A. 

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics

-------------------------Message 2 ---------------------------------- 
Date: Mon, 03 Apr 2006 09:26:20
From: Jim Fidelholtz < fidelholtz at gmail.com >
Subject: Re:  17.869, Capital Tresillo/Cuatrillo in Unicode 


My comment is more about Unicode itself than the specific question.  I
really know little about the details of this coding system, though its
aims, if I understand them, seem laudable; that is: to have a system which
in principle (and, presumably, with time, in fact) will have codings for
*all* orthographies, scripts, etc., with *any* relevance for *anyone*,
*anywhere*, at any time, past present &/or future.  At least this is my
understanding, based on very limited facts, but on rather widespread
information from various sources, including LinguistList, and now the
'official' Unicode page.  As I understand the coding, there is room for
2[up-arrow]16 characters, or something over 65000 characters.  This seems
like a lot to me, but maybe it isn't (considering that Chinese has perhaps
several tens of thousands of characters all by itself, counting variants
and older ones).  I don't understand why they cannot just add one or more
hexadecimal digits to the code, if it seems necessary, and use the lower
codes for the more common languages, perhaps forcing users of some less
common languages to use a (mandatory) switch in their software (or, perhaps
better, their computer) to switch to the higher codes (over decimal 65535).

This rambling preamble is basically supporting an argument for making it
relatively easy and quick to add characters, even on the apparently
flimsiest of arguments, so as not to leave any former, present or future
symbol-using system out of consideration.  I would also emphasize that
computers have been very rapid now for close to two decades, and all
indications are that they will continue to get faster.  Furthermore,
character manipulations (even multi-byte ones) are among the fastest things
done by computers, and more so when they are organized (compare the
response times to get many millions of answers from Google).

The suggestion, then, would be that, if Michael Everson wants capital
tresillo &/or cuatrillo, I'm willing to wait the extra couple of
nanoseconds that every single operation on characters will thereafter cost
me (temporarily), which in a couple of years will have speeded up by a
couple of orders of magnitude in any case.  And if I don't meanwhile get a
new computer, I'm willing to suffer in silence (grousing would take more
time than the total I would lose, anyway). 

Linguistic Field(s): Computational Linguistics
                     Writing Systems



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