Meanings of word: type-occurrence-token.

Bulletin of Symbolic Logic 11 (1):117 (2005)
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Corcoran, John. 2005. Meanings of word: type-occurrence-token. Bulletin of Symbolic Logic 11(2005) 117. -/- Once we are aware of the various senses of ‘word’, we realize that self-referential statements use ambiguous sentences. If a statement is made using the sentence ‘this is a pronoun’, is the speaker referring to an interpreted string, a string-type, a string-occurrence, a string-token, or what? The listeners can wonder “this what?”. -/- John Corcoran, Meanings of word: type-occurrence-token Philosophy, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14260-4150 E-mail: [email protected] The four-letter written-English expression ‘word’, which plays important roles in applications and expositions of logic and philosophy of logic, is ambiguous (multisense, or polysemic) in that it has multiple normal meanings (senses, or definitions). Several of its meanings are vague (imprecise, or indefinite) in that they admit of borderline (marginal, or fringe) cases. This paper juxtaposes, distinguishes, and analyses several senses of ‘word’ focusing on a constellation of senses analogous to constellations of senses of other expression words such as ‘expression’, ‘symbol’, ‘character’, ‘letter’, ‘term’, ‘phrase’, ‘formula’, ‘sentence’, ‘derivation’, ‘paragraph’, and ‘discourse’. Consider, e.g., the word ‘letter’. In one sense there are exactly twenty-six letters (letter-types or ideal letters) in the English alphabet and there are exactly four letters in the word ‘letter’. In another sense, there are exactly six letters (letter-repetitions or letter-occurrences) in the word-type ‘letter’. In yet another sense, every new inscription (act of writing or printing) of ‘letter’ brings into existence six new letters (letter-tokens or ink-letters) and one new word that had not previously existed. The number of letter-occurrences (occurrences of a letter-type) in a given word-type is the same as the number of letter-tokens (tokens of a letter-type) in a single token of the given word. Many logicians fail to distinguish “token” from “occurrence” and a few actually confuse the two concepts. Epistemological and ontological problems concerning word-types, word-occurrences, and word-tokens are described in philosophically neutral terms. This paper presents a theoretical framework of concepts and principles concerning logicography, including use of English in logic. The framework is applied to analytical exposition and critical evaluation of classic passages in the works of philosophers and logicians including Boole, Peirce, Frege, Russell, Tarski, Church and Quine. This paper is intended as a philosophical sequel to Corcoran et al. “String Theory”, Journal of Symbolic Logic 39(1974) 625-637. -/- .

Author's Profile

John Corcoran
PhD: Johns Hopkins University; Last affiliation: University at Buffalo


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