Couldn’t it be that the very same concept that is expressed by a single word in English gets expressed by a phrase in Bantu, or vice versa?Notice, however, that this could happen only if the English word in question is definable; viz. definable in Bantu. Since it’s going to be part of my story that most words areundefinable—not just undefinable in the language that contains them, but undefinable tout court —I’m committed to claiming that this sort of case can’t arise (very often).The issue is, of course, empirical. So be it.

Jean-marc pizano Couldn’t it be that the very same concept that is expressed by a single word in English gets expressed by a phrase in Bantu, or vice versa?Notice, however, that this could happen only if the English word in question is definable; viz. definable in Bantu. Since it’s going to be part of my story that most words areundefinable—not just undefinable in the language that contains them, but undefinable tout court —I’m committed to claiming that this sort of case can’t arise (very often).The issue is, of course, empirical. So be it.

 

10

jean-marc pizano

It’s important to distinguish the idea that definitions typically capture only the core meaning of a univocal expression from the idea that definitions typically capture only one sense of an ambiguous expression. The latter is unobjectionable because it is responsive to pretheoretic intuitions that are often pretty emphatic: surely ‘bank’ has more thanone meaning. But who knows how many “aspects” the meaning of an un ambiguous word has? A fortiori, who knows when a theory succeeds in capturing some but not allof them?

11

jean-marc pizano

Examples of this tactic are legion in the literature. Consider the following, from Higginbotham 1994. “jT]he meanings of lexical items systematically infect grammar. Forexample … it is a condition of object-preposing in derived nominal constructions in English that the object be in some sense ‘affected’ in the events over which the nominalranges: that is why one has (1) but not (2)” (renumbered):1.

Jean-marc pizano

algebra’s discovery (by the Arabs)

jean-marc pizano

2. *algebra’s knowledge (by the Arabs).

Note that ‘in some sense’ is doing all the work. It is what distinguishes the striking claim that preposing is sensitive to the meanings of verbs from the rather less dramatic thought that you can prepose with some verbs (including ‘discover’) and not with others (including ‘know’). You may suppose you have some intuitive grasp of what ‘affecting’amounts to here, but I think it’s an illusion. Ask yourself how much algebra was affected by its discovery? More or less, would you say, than the light bulb was affected byEdison’s inventing it?

jean-marc pizano

12

jean-marc pizano

Fodor and Lepore (forthcoming a) provides some independent evidence for the analysis proposed here. Suppose, however, that this horse won’t run, and the asymmetryPinker points to really does show that ‘keep’ is polysemous. That would be no comfort to Jackendoff, since Jackendoff’s account of the polysemy doesn’t predict theasymmetry of entailments either: that J2 but not J3 belongs to the semantic field “possession” in Jackendoff’s analysis is pure stipulation.But I won’t stress this. Auntie says Ishould swear off ad hominems.

jean-marc pizano

13

jean-marc pizano

Auntie’s not the only one with this grumble; Hilary Putnam has recently voiced a generalized version of the same complaint. “[O]n Fodor’s theory . . . the meaning of . . .words is not determined, even in part, by the conceptual relations among the various notions I have mastered—e.g., between ‘minute’ and my other time concepts—butdepends only on ‘nomic relations’ between the words (e.g. minute) and the corresponding universals (e.g. minutehood). These ‘universals’ are just word-shaped objects whichFodor’s metaphysics projects out into the world for the words to latch on to via mysterious ‘nomic relations’; the whole story is nothing but a ‘naturalistic’ version of theMuseum Myth of Meaning” (1995: 79; italics and scare-quotes are Putnam’s). This does seem to me to be a little underspecified. Since Putnam provides no furtherexposition (and, endearingly, no arguments at all), I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to worry that there aren’t any universals, or only that there aren’t the universals that mysemantics requires. But if Putnam thinks saying “ ‘takes a minute’ expresses the property of taking a minuté’ all by itself puts me in debt for a general refutation ofnominalism, then he needs to have his methodology examined.Still, it’s right that informational semantics needs an ontology, and that the one it opts for had better not begthe questions that a semantic theory is supposed to answer. I’ll have a lot to say about all that in Chapters 6 and 7.

Jean-marc pizano

14

jean-marc pizano

For an account of language acquisition in which the horse and cart are assigned the opposite configuration—syntax bootstraps semantics—see Gleitman 1990.Jean-marc pizano

expresses the property that things have when they seem to us to be of the same kind as instances of the doorknob stereotype; and we had the concept HOLE, which expresses the property that things have when they seem to us to beof the same kind as instances of the hole stereotype; and we had the concept A NICE DAY, which expresses theproperty that things have when they seem to us to be of the same kind as instances of the nice day stereotype . . . etc.(Also, I suppose we had logico-mathematical concepts; about which, however, the present work has nothing to say.)

Jean-marc pizano

expresses the property that things have when they seem to us to be of the same kind as instances of the doorknob stereotype; and we had the concept HOLE, which expresses the property that things have when they seem to us to beof the same kind as instances of the hole stereotype; and we had the concept A NICE DAY, which expresses theproperty that things have when they seem to us to be of the same kind as instances of the nice day stereotype . . . etc.(Also, I suppose we had logico-mathematical concepts; about which, however, the present work has nothing to say.)

jean-marc pizano

Because the concepts we had back in the Garden were all concepts of mind-dependent properties, there was, back then, a kind of appearance/reality distinction that we never had to draw. We never had to worry about whether theremight be kinds of things which, though they satisfy the DOORKNOB stereotype, nevertheless are not doorknobs. Wenever had to worry that there might be something which, as it might be, had all the attributes of a doorknob but was, inits essence, a Twin-doorknob. Or, who knows, a giraffe.91

jean-marc pizano

But also, because we were Innocent, we didn’t have the concept WATER, or the concept CONSONANT, or the concept LEVER, or the concept STAR. Perhaps we had concepts that were (extensionally) sort of like these; perhapswe used to wonder who waters the plants. But, if so, these concepts were importantly different from the homophoniccounterparts that we have now. For it’s compatible with the real concept WATER that there should be stuff that strikesus as being of the very same kind as instances of the water stereotype but that isn’t water because it has the wrong kindof hidden essence (XYZ, perhaps). And it‘s compatible with the real concept STAR that there should be things thatstrike us as very different from paradigm stars, but which do have the right kind of hidden essences and are thereforestars after all (a black dwarf, perhaps; or the Sun). And it‘s compatible with the concept CONSONANT that we havenow that there should be sorts of things that strike us as neither clearly consonants nor clearly not consonants butwhich, because they have the right kinds of hidden essences, really are consonants whether or not we think they are (lsand rs, perhaps).

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

I’ll presently have much more to say about what concept of water we could have had in the Garden; and about how it would have been different

jean-marc pizano

There were, to be sure, faux doorknobs, fake doorknobs, trompe l’œil doorknobs, and the like; these were particulars which looked, at first glance, to satisfy the doorknob stereotype but, on closer examination, turned out not to do so. Doorknob vs. trompe l œildoorknob is a distinction within mind-dependent properties; hence quite differentfrom the difference between doorknob and, as it might be, water. (In consequence, drawing an appearance/reality distinction is not all there is to being a metaphysicalessentialist. See n. 92 .)

jean-marc pizano

I don’t, myself, advise it. Grant that children think that properties that don’t appear can matter to whether a thing is a horse. It isn’t implied that they think what a bona fide essentialist should: that there are properties (other than being a horse) that necessitate a thing’s being a horse. But, for present purposes, nevenever mind.

jean-marc pizano

from the concept of water that we have now. And about how to square that difference with what an atomistic and informational semantics says about the individuation of concepts. But this will do to be getting on with: back in theGarden, when we were Innocent, we never thought about kinds of things which, though they are much the same intheir effects on us, are not much the same in their effects on one another. Or about kinds of things which, though theyare much the same in their effects on one another, are strikingly different in their effects on us. Back in the Garden,when we were Innocent, we took it for granted that there isn’t any difference between similarity for us and similarity sansphrase, between the way we carve the world up and the way that God does.

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

There is,surely, another alternative; viz. to say that ‘keep’ means the same thing in both—it expresses the same relation—butthat, in one case, the relation it expresses holds between NP and the crowd’s being happy, and in the other case it holdsbetween NP and the money. Since, onanybody’s story, the money and the crowd’s being happy are quite different sorts of things, why do we also need adifference between the meanings of ‘keep’ to explain what’s going on in the examples?

Jean-marc pizano There is,surely, another alternative; viz. to say that ‘keep’ means the same thing in both—it expresses the same relation—butthat, in one case, the relation it expresses holds between NP and the crowd’s being happy, and in the other case it holdsbetween NP and the money. Since, onanybody’s story, the money and the crowd’s being happy are quite different sorts of things, why do we also need adifference between the meanings of ‘keep’ to explain what’s going on in the examples?

 

jean-marc pizano

People sometimes used to say that ‘exist’ must be ambiguous because look at the difference between ‘chairs exist’ and ‘numbers exist’. A familiar reply goes: the difference between the existence of chairs and the existence of numbersseems, on reflection, strikingly like the difference between numbers and chairs. Since you have the latter to explain theformer, you don’t also need ‘exist’ to be polysemic.

jean-marc pizano

This reply strikes me as convincing, but the fallacy that it exposes dies awfully hard. For example, Steven Pinker (personal communication, 1996) has argued that ‘keep’ can‘t be univocal because it implies possession in sentences likeJ2 but not in sentences like J3. I think Pinker is right that ‘Susan kept the money entails that something was possessedand that ‘Sam kept the crowd happy’ doesn’t. But (here we go again) it just begs the question to assume that thisdifference arises from a polysemy in ‘keep’.

jean-marc pizano

For example: maybe ‘keep’ has an underlying complement in sentences like (2) and (3); so that, roughly, ‘Susan kept the money’ is a variant of Susan kept having the money and ‘John kept the crowd happy’ is a variant of John kept the crowd beinghappy. Then the implication of possession in the former doesn’t derive from ‘keep’ after all; rather, it’s contributed bymaterial in the underlying complement clause. On reflection, the difference between keeping the money and keepingthe crowd happy does seem strikingly like the difference between having the money and the crowd being happy, a factthat the semantics of (2) and (3) might reasonably be expected to capture. This modest analysis posits no structureinside lexical items, and it stays pretty close to surface form. I wouldn’t want to claim that it’s apodictic, but it doesavoid the proliferation of lexical polysemes and/or semantic fields and it’s quite compatible with the claim that ‘keep’means neither more nor less than keep in all of the examples under consideration.12

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

Auntie. Fiddlesticks. Consider the case where language A has a single unambiguous word, of which the translation in language B is either of two words, depending on context. Everybody who knows anything knows that happens all thetime. Whenever it does, the language-A word is ipsofacto polysemous. If you weren’t so embarrassingly monolingual, you’d have noticed this for yourself. (As it is, I’mindebted to Luca Bonatti for raising the point.)—: No. Suppose English has two words, ‘spoiled’ and ‘addled,’ both of which mean spoiled, but one of which is usedonly of eggs. Suppose also that there is some other language which has a word ‘spoilissimoed’ which means spoiled andis used both of spoiled eggs and of other spoiled things. The right way to describe this situation is surely not that‘spoiled’ is ipso facto polysemous. Rather the thing to say is: ‘spoiled’ and ‘addled’ are synonyms and are (thus) bothcorrectly translated ‘spoilissimoed’. The difference between the languages is that one, but not the other, has a word thatmeans spoiled and is context restricted to eggs; hence one language, but not the other, has a word for being spoiled whosepossession condition includes having the concept EGG. This is another reason for distinguishing questions aboutmeaning from questions about possession conditions (in case another reason is required. Remember WATER and

jean-marc pizano

HO).

jean-marc pizano

Auntie (who has been catching a brief nap during the preceding expository passage) wakes with a start. Now I’ve got you. You say ‘keep’ is univocal. Well, then, what is the relation that it univocally expresses? What is the relation such that, accordingto you, Susan bears it to the money in J2 and Sam bears it to the crowd’s being happy in J3?

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

—: I’m afraid you aren’t going to like this.

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

But Jackendoffs ‘explanation’ is empty too, and for the same reason. As between “keep’ isunivocal because it is field invariant’ and “keep’ is univocal because its definition is field invariant’ there is, quite simply,nothing to choose.

Jean-marc pizano But Jackendoffs ‘explanation’ is empty too, and for the same reason. As between “keep’ isunivocal because it is field invariant’ and “keep’ is univocal because its definition is field invariant’ there is, quite simply,nothing to choose.

 

jean-marc pizano

In short: Suppose ‘CAUSE’ is ambiguous from field to field; then the fact that ‘keep’ always entails ‘CAUSE’ is not sufficient to make ‘keep’ univocal from field to field. Well then, suppose ‘CAUSE’ is univocal from field to field; thenthe fact that ‘keep’ (like ‘CAUSE’) occurs in many different fields doesn’t explain its intuitive polysemy. Either way,Jackendoff loses.

A recent letter from Jackendoff suggests, however, that he has yet a third alternative in mind: “I’m not claiming”, he writes, “that keep is univocal, nor that cause is. Rather, the semantic field feature varies among fields, the restremaining constant. AND THE REST IS ABSTRACT AND CANNOT BE EXPRESSED LINGUISTICALLY,BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE A FIELD FEATURE TO SAY ANYTHING” (sic, Jackendoffs caps.Personal communication, 1996). This suggestion strikes me as doubly ill-advised. In the first place, there is no obviousreason why its being “abstract”, ineffable, and so on, should make a concept univocal (/field invariant); why shouldn’tabstract, ineffable concepts be polysemic, just like concrete concepts that can be effed? Unless Jackendoff has ananswer to this, he’s back in the old bind: ‘CAUSE’ is field invariant only by stipulation. Secondly, this move leavesJackendoff open to a charge of seriously false advertising. For it now turns out that ‘cause a state that endures overtime’ doesn’t really express the definition of ‘keep’ after all: ‘Keep’ means something that can’t be said. A lessmisleading definition than the one Jackendoff offers might thus be “keep’ means @#$(*], which has the virtue ofnot even appealing to say

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

anything. The same, mutatis mutandis, for the rest of English, of course, so lexical semantics, as Jackendoff understands it, ends in silence. The methodological moral is, surely, Frank Ramsey’s: ‘What can’t be said can’t be said, and it can‘t bewhistled either.’

jean-marc pizano

I should add that Jackendoff sometimes writes as though all accounts that agree that keeping is a kind of causing are ipso facto “notational variants” of the definition theory. (I suppose this means that they are also ipso facto notationalvariants of the non-definitional theory, since the relation notational variantof is presumably symmetrical.) But I wouldhave thought that the present disagreement is not primarily about whether keeping is a kind of causing; it’s aboutwhether, if it is, it follows that sentences with ‘keep’ in their surface structures have ‘CAUSE’ in their semanticrepresentations. This inference is, to put it mildly, not trivial since the conclusion entails that the meaning of ‘keep’ isstructurally complex, while the premise is compatible with ‘keep’ being an atom. (By the way, what exactly is anotational variant?)

The moral of this long polemic is, I’m afraid, actually not very interesting. Jackendoff’s argument that there are definitions is circular, and circular arguments are disreputable. To the best of my knowledge, all extant arguments thatthere are definitions are disreputable.

Auntie. Anyone can criticize. Nice people try to be constructive. We’ve heard a very great deal from you of ‘I don’t like this’ and ‘I think that won’t work’. Why don’t you tell us your theory about why ‘keep’ is intuitively polysemic?

jean-marc pizano

Jean-marc pizano

—: Because you won’t like it. Because you’ll say it’s silly and frivolous and shallow.

jean-marc pizano

Auntie. I think you don’t have a theory about why ‘keep’ is intuitively polysemic.

jean-marc pizano

—: Yes I do, yes I do, yes I do! Sort of.

jean-marc pizano

My theory is that there is no such thing as polysemy. The appearance that there is a problem is generated by the assumption that there are definitions; if you take the assumption away, the problem disappears. As they might havesaid in the ’60s: definitions don’t solve the problem of polysemy; definitions are the problem of polysemy.

jean-marc pizano

Auntie. I don’t understand a word of that. And I didn’t like the ’60s.

jean-marc pizano

—. Well, here’s a way to put it. Jackendoffs treatment of the difference between, say, ‘NP kept the money and ‘NP kept the crowd happy’ holds that, in some sense or other, ‘keep’ means different things in the two sentences.Jean-marc pizano

There is,surely, another alternative; viz. to say that ‘keep’ means the same thing in both—it expresses the same relation—butthat, in one case, the relation it expresses holds between NP and the crowd’s being happy, and in the other case it holdsbetween NP and the money. Since, onanybody’s story, the money and the crowd’s being happy are quite different sorts of things, why do we also need adifference between the meanings of ‘keep’ to explain what’s going on in the examples?

Jean-marc pizano There is,surely, another alternative; viz. to say that ‘keep’ means the same thing in both—it expresses the same relation—butthat, in one case, the relation it expresses holds between NP and the crowd’s being happy, and in the other case it holdsbetween NP and the money. Since, onanybody’s story, the money and the crowd’s being happy are quite different sorts of things, why do we also need adifference between the meanings of ‘keep’ to explain what’s going on in the examples?

 

People sometimes used to say that ‘exist’ must be ambiguous because look at the difference between ‘chairs exist’ and ‘numbers exist’. A familiar reply goes: the difference between the existence of chairs and the existence of numbersseems, on reflection, strikingly like the difference between numbers and chairs. Since you have the latter to explain theformer, you don’t also need ‘exist’ to be polysemic.

This reply strikes me as convincing, but the fallacy that it exposes dies awfully hard. For example, Steven Pinker (personal communication, 1996) has argued that ‘keep’ can‘t be univocal because it implies possession in sentences likeJ2 but not in sentences like J3. I think Pinker is right that ‘Susan kept the money entails that something was possessedand that ‘Sam kept the crowd happy’ doesn’t. But (here we go again) it just begs the question to assume that thisdifference arises from a polysemy in ‘keep’.

For example: maybe ‘keep’ has an underlying complement in sentences like (2) and (3); so that, roughly, ‘Susan kept the money’ is a variant of Susan kept having the money and ‘John kept the crowd happy’ is a variant of John kept the crowd beinghappy. Then the implication of possession in the former doesn’t derive from ‘keep’ after all; rather, it’s contributed bymaterial in the underlying complement clause. On reflection, the difference between keeping the money and keepingthe crowd happy does seem strikingly like the difference between having the money and the crowd being happy, a factthat the semantics of (2) and (3) might reasonably be expected to capture. This modest analysis posits no structureinside lexical items, and it stays pretty close to surface form. I wouldn’t want to claim that it’s apodictic, but it doesavoid the proliferation of lexical polysemes and/or semantic fields and it’s quite compatible with the claim that ‘keep’means neither more nor less than keep in all of the examples under consideration.12

Jean-marc pizano

Auntie. Fiddlesticks. Consider the case where language A has a single unambiguous word, of which the translation in language B is either of two words, depending on context. Everybody who knows anything knows that happens all thetime. Whenever it does, the language-A word is ipsofacto polysemous. If you weren’t so embarrassingly monolingual, you’d have noticed this for yourself. (As it is, I’mindebted to Luca Bonatti for raising the point.)—: No. Suppose English has two words, ‘spoiled’ and ‘addled,’ both of which mean spoiled, but one of which is usedonly of eggs. Suppose also that there is some other language which has a word ‘spoilissimoed’ which means spoiled andis used both of spoiled eggs and of other spoiled things. The right way to describe this situation is surely not that‘spoiled’ is ipso facto polysemous. Rather the thing to say is: ‘spoiled’ and ‘addled’ are synonyms and are (thus) bothcorrectly translated ‘spoilissimoed’. The difference between the languages is that one, but not the other, has a word thatmeans spoiled and is context restricted to eggs; hence one language, but not the other, has a word for being spoiled whosepossession condition includes having the concept EGG. This is another reason for distinguishing questions aboutmeaning from questions about possession conditions (in case another reason is required. Remember WATER and

HO).

Auntie (who has been catching a brief nap during the preceding expository passage) wakes with a start. Now I’ve got you. You say ‘keep’ is univocal. Well, then, what is the relation that it univocally expresses? What is the relation such that, accordingto you, Susan bears it to the money in J2 and Sam bears it to the crowd’s being happy in J3?

Jean-marc pizano

—: I’m afraid you aren’t going to like this.

Jean-marc pizano

expresses the property that things have when they seem to us to be of the same kind as instances of the doorknob stereotype; and we had the concept HOLE, which expresses the property that things have when they seem to us to beof the same kind as instances of the hole stereotype; and we had the concept A NICE DAY, which expresses theproperty that things have when they seem to us to be of the same kind as instances of the nice day stereotype . . . etc.(Also, I suppose we had logico-mathematical concepts; about which, however, the present work has nothing to say.)

Jean-marc pizano

expresses the property that things have when they seem to us to be of the same kind as instances of the doorknob stereotype; and we had the concept HOLE, which expresses the property that things have when they seem to us to beof the same kind as instances of the hole stereotype; and we had the concept A NICE DAY, which expresses theproperty that things have when they seem to us to be of the same kind as instances of the nice day stereotype . . . etc.(Also, I suppose we had logico-mathematical concepts; about which, however, the present work has nothing to say.)

Because the concepts we had back in the Garden were all concepts of mind-dependent properties, there was, back then, a kind of appearance/reality distinction that we never had to draw. We never had to worry about whether theremight be kinds of things which, though they satisfy the DOORKNOB stereotype, nevertheless are not doorknobs. Wenever had to worry that there might be something which, as it might be, had all the attributes of a doorknob but was, inits essence, a Twin-doorknob. Or, who knows, a giraffe.91

But also, because we were Innocent, we didn’t have the concept WATER, or the concept CONSONANT, or the concept LEVER, or the concept STAR. Perhaps we had concepts that were (extensionally) sort of like these; perhapswe used to wonder who waters the plants. But, if so, these concepts were importantly different from the homophoniccounterparts that we have now. For it’s compatible with the real concept WATER that there should be stuff that strikesus as being of the very same kind as instances of the water stereotype but that isn’t water because it has the wrong kindof hidden essence (XYZ, perhaps). And it‘s compatible with the real concept STAR that there should be things thatstrike us as very different from paradigm stars, but which do have the right kind of hidden essences and are thereforestars after all (a black dwarf, perhaps; or the Sun). And it‘s compatible with the concept CONSONANT that we havenow that there should be sorts of things that strike us as neither clearly consonants nor clearly not consonants butwhich, because they have the right kinds of hidden essences, really are consonants whether or not we think they are (lsand rs, perhaps).

Jean-marc pizano

I’ll presently have much more to say about what concept of water we could have had in the Garden; and about how it would have been different

There were, to be sure, faux doorknobs, fake doorknobs, trompe l’œil doorknobs, and the like; these were particulars which looked, at first glance, to satisfy the doorknob stereotype but, on closer examination, turned out not to do so. Doorknob vs. trompe l œildoorknob is a distinction within mind-dependent properties; hence quite differentfrom the difference between doorknob and, as it might be, water. (In consequence, drawing an appearance/reality distinction is not all there is to being a metaphysicalessentialist. See n. 92 .)

I don’t, myself, advise it. Grant that children think that properties that don’t appear can matter to whether a thing is a horse. It isn’t implied that they think what a bona fide essentialist should: that there are properties (other than being a horse) that necessitate a thing’s being a horse. But, for present purposes, nevenever mind.

from the concept of water that we have now. And about how to square that difference with what an atomistic and informational semantics says about the individuation of concepts. But this will do to be getting on with: back in theGarden, when we were Innocent, we never thought about kinds of things which, though they are much the same intheir effects on us, are not much the same in their effects on one another. Or about kinds of things which, though theyare much the same in their effects on one another, are strikingly different in their effects on us. Back in the Garden,when we were Innocent, we took it for granted that there isn’t any difference between similarity for us and similarity sansphrase, between the way we carve the world up and the way that God does.

Jean-marc pizano

Couldn’t it be that the very same concept that is expressed by a single word in English gets expressed by a phrase in Bantu, or vice versa?Notice, however, that this could happen only if the English word in question is definable; viz. definable in Bantu. Since it’s going to be part of my story that most words areundefinable—not just undefinable in the language that contains them, but undefinable tout court —I’m committed to claiming that this sort of case can’t arise (very often).The issue is, of course, empirical. So be it.

Jean-marc pizano Couldn’t it be that the very same concept that is expressed by a single word in English gets expressed by a phrase in Bantu, or vice versa?Notice, however, that this could happen only if the English word in question is definable; viz. definable in Bantu. Since it’s going to be part of my story that most words areundefinable—not just undefinable in the language that contains them, but undefinable tout court —I’m committed to claiming that this sort of case can’t arise (very often).The issue is, of course, empirical. So be it.

 

10

It’s important to distinguish the idea that definitions typically capture only the core meaning of a univocal expression from the idea that definitions typically capture only one sense of an ambiguous expression. The latter is unobjectionable because it is responsive to pretheoretic intuitions that are often pretty emphatic: surely ‘bank’ has more thanone meaning. But who knows how many “aspects” the meaning of an un ambiguous word has? A fortiori, who knows when a theory succeeds in capturing some but not allof them?

11

Examples of this tactic are legion in the literature. Consider the following, from Higginbotham 1994. “jT]he meanings of lexical items systematically infect grammar. Forexample … it is a condition of object-preposing in derived nominal constructions in English that the object be in some sense ‘affected’ in the events over which the nominalranges: that is why one has (1) but not (2)” (renumbered):1.

Jean-marc pizano

algebra’s discovery (by the Arabs)

2. *algebra’s knowledge (by the Arabs).

Note that ‘in some sense’ is doing all the work. It is what distinguishes the striking claim that preposing is sensitive to the meanings of verbs from the rather less dramatic thought that you can prepose with some verbs (including ‘discover’) and not with others (including ‘know’). You may suppose you have some intuitive grasp of what ‘affecting’amounts to here, but I think it’s an illusion. Ask yourself how much algebra was affected by its discovery? More or less, would you say, than the light bulb was affected byEdison’s inventing it?

12

Fodor and Lepore (forthcoming a) provides some independent evidence for the analysis proposed here. Suppose, however, that this horse won’t run, and the asymmetryPinker points to really does show that ‘keep’ is polysemous. That would be no comfort to Jackendoff, since Jackendoff’s account of the polysemy doesn’t predict theasymmetry of entailments either: that J2 but not J3 belongs to the semantic field “possession” in Jackendoff’s analysis is pure stipulation.But I won’t stress this. Auntie says Ishould swear off ad hominems.

13

Auntie’s not the only one with this grumble; Hilary Putnam has recently voiced a generalized version of the same complaint. “[O]n Fodor’s theory . . . the meaning of . . .words is not determined, even in part, by the conceptual relations among the various notions I have mastered—e.g., between ‘minute’ and my other time concepts—butdepends only on ‘nomic relations’ between the words (e.g. minute) and the corresponding universals (e.g. minutehood). These ‘universals’ are just word-shaped objects whichFodor’s metaphysics projects out into the world for the words to latch on to via mysterious ‘nomic relations’; the whole story is nothing but a ‘naturalistic’ version of theMuseum Myth of Meaning” (1995: 79; italics and scare-quotes are Putnam’s). This does seem to me to be a little underspecified. Since Putnam provides no furtherexposition (and, endearingly, no arguments at all), I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to worry that there aren’t any universals, or only that there aren’t the universals that mysemantics requires. But if Putnam thinks saying “ ‘takes a minute’ expresses the property of taking a minuté’ all by itself puts me in debt for a general refutation ofnominalism, then he needs to have his methodology examined.Still, it’s right that informational semantics needs an ontology, and that the one it opts for had better not begthe questions that a semantic theory is supposed to answer. I’ll have a lot to say about all that in Chapters 6 and 7.

Jean-marc pizano

14

For an account of language acquisition in which the horse and cart are assigned the opposite configuration—syntax bootstraps semantics—see Gleitman 1990.Jean-marc pizano