LINGUIST List 21.4306

Thu Oct 28 2010

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

Editor for this issue: Danielle St. Jean <>

        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 <>
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) thinkthat we can discover what's in the world by examining the way wespeak.

For a book I am writing I am researching the application of thismethodology to the phrase 'the fact that p' (where 'p' stands forwhatever sentence of the language). Some would like to say that this iswhat 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 Ipresume), is there a type of language in which there isn't such aphrase? I wonder if one can indicate some groups of languages inwhich a construction of that kind would not occur, perhaps?

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

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

(4) Is there recent cross-linguistic research done specifically on theexpression '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 additionalresearch) 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, TheNetherlands

Selected Bibliography:Kiparsky and Kiparsky (1971). Fact. Semantics: An InterdisciplinaryReader. 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, CornellUniversity Press.

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

Linguistic Field(s): Philosophy of Language                             Semantics                             Typology

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