Skip navigation

Philosophy of Language

  • Page 2 of 10
On the Forgetting of Language

Just as speech can be acquired, so can it be lost. Speakers can forget words, phrases, even entire languages they once knew; over the course of time peoples, too, let go of the tongues that were once theirs, as languages disappear and give way to the others that follow them. In Echolalias, Daniel Heller-Roazen reflects on the many forms of linguistic forgetfulness, offering a far-reaching philosophical investigation into the persistence and disappearance of speech.

The Growth of Grammar

This text provides a comprehensive introduction to current thinking on language acquisition. Following an introductory chapter that discusses the foundations of linguistic inquiry, the book covers the acquisition of specific aspects of language from birth to about age 6. Topics include the language abilities of newborns, the acquisition of phonological properties of language, the lexicon, syntax, pronoun and sentence interpretation, control structures, specific language impairments, and the relationship between language and other cognitive functions.

Concepts embody our knowledge of the kinds of things there are in the world. Tying our past experiences to our present interactions with the environment, they enable us to recognize and understand new objects and events. Concepts are also relevant to understanding domains such as social situations, personality types, and even artistic styles. Yet like other phenomenologically simple cognitive processes such as walking or understanding speech, concept formation and use are maddeningly complex.

The studies in Weaving a Lexicon make a significant contribution to the growing field of lexical acquisition by considering the multidimensional way in which infants and children acquire the lexicon of their native language. They examine the many strands of knowledge and skill—including perceptual sensitivities, conceptual and semantic constraints, and communicative intent— that children must weave together in the process of word learning, and show the different mix of these factors used at different developmental points.

Essays on the Philosophy of Tyler Burge

Tyler Burge has produced groundbreaking work on the semantics of proper names and indexicals, de re belief, formal truth theories, semantic and epistemic paradoxes, the philosophy of Gottlob Frege, and other areas of the philosophy of language and of mind. But he is best known for his arguments for anti-individualism, or externalism about mental content.

Among the many branches of philosophy, the philosophy of time and the philosophy of language are more intimately interconnected than most, yet their practitioners have long pursued independent paths. This book helps to bridge the gap between the two groups. As it makes clear, it is increasingly difficult to do philosophy of language without any metaphysical commitments as to the nature of time, and it is equally difficult to resolve the metaphysical question of whether time is tensed or tenseless independently of the philosophy of language.

The Diversity of Wh-Constructions

This book can be read on two levels: as a novel empirical study of wh- interrogatives and relative constructions in a variety of languages and as a theoretical investigation of chain formation in grammar.

Semantic externalism is the thesis that the contents of some words and thoughts depend in part on properties external to the person who entertains them. In a departure from the widely held doctrine of internalism, externalists maintain that not all mental content is local to the mind. That view, however, seems to some philosophers to be at odds with our ordinary intuitions about self-knowledge.

For the past forty years, linguistics has been dominated by the idea that language is categorical and linguistic competence discrete. It has become increasingly clear, however, that many levels of representation, from phonemes to sentence structure, show probabilistic properties, as does the language faculty. Probabilistic linguistics conceptualizes categories as distributions and views knowledge of language not as a minimal set of categorical constraints but as a set of gradient rules that may be characterized by a statistical distribution.

This is the first detailed study to explore the little-understood notions of "knowing who someone is," "knowing a person's identity," and related locutions. It locates these notions within the context of a general theory of believing and a semantical theory of belief- and knowledge-ascriptions.

  • Page 2 of 10