Date: 16-Mar-2006 From: Michael Covington <mcuga.edu> Subject: Why are there common nouns?
Could anyone point me to literature that discusses the following issue?
One of the biggest discrepancies between natural language syntax and formal logic is that, in logic, common nouns are predicates, but in natural language syntax, they are very much like names (logical constants) even though their referents are not constant.
I presume the reason for this is that the human mind has chosen to treat descriptive common nouns like names, and that this has to do with the way we maintain reference in discourse.
In psychology, there is a time-honored tradition (from Kintsch) of writing semantic representations in a kind of ''mentalese'' where common nouns are handled like names and are not considered to be predicative.
Have semanticists said anything illuminating about this issue? It must be one of the oldest questions in semantic theory.