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LINGUIST List 21.4306

Thu Oct 28 2010

Qs: Philosophy of Lang: Expressions like 'the fact that p'

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        1.     Arianna Betti , Philosophy of Lang: Expressions like 'the fact that p'

Message 1: Philosophy of Lang: Expressions like 'the fact that p'
Date: 20-Oct-2010
From: Arianna Betti <ariannabettigmail.com>
Subject: Philosophy of Lang: Expressions like 'the fact that p'
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Dear LINGUIST subscribers,

I am a philosopher doing research on facts. Many philosophers
(especially those sympathetic to ordinary language philosophy) think
that we can discover what's in the world by examining the way we

For a book I am writing I am researching the application of this
methodology to the phrase 'the fact that p' (where 'p' stands for
whatever sentence of the language). Some would like to say that this is
what we call a 'definite description'.

My questions are the following:

(1) Is a phrase like 'the fact that p' present in all languages? If not (as I
presume), is there a type of language in which there isn't such a
phrase? I wonder if one can indicate some groups of languages in
which a construction of that kind would not occur, perhaps?

(2) Is the expression 'fact' present in all languages? If not, is there a
way to group languages in which that expression does not occur?
(examples of languages in which 'fact' does not occur would already
help me greatly!).

(3) Can I solve similar questions myself by using some online
database? If not, what's the second best method?

(4) Is there recent cross-linguistic research done specifically on the
expression 'fact'? (I already know and have used work by Kiparsky &
Kiparsky, Vendler, Peterson & co).

I would be most grateful to be able (with or without additional
research) to include the answer to this in my book!

Best wishes,
Arianna Betti

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam,
ERC Starting Grantee & Member of De Jonge Akademie of KNAW, The


Selected Bibliography:
Kiparsky and Kiparsky (1971). Fact. Semantics: An Interdisciplinary
Reader. Steinberg and Jakobovits. Cambridge: 345-69.

Peterson, P. L. (1997). Fact, Proposition, Event.
Dordrecht/Boston/London, Kluwer.

Vendler, Z. (1967). Linguistics in Philosophy. Ithaca, NY, Cornell
University Press.

Vendler, Z. (1972). Res Cogitans - An Essay in Rational Philosophy.
Ithaca and London, Cornell University Press.

Linguistic Field(s): Philosophy of Language

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