ERIC Number: ED030102
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1967-Nov-16
Reference Count: 0
Natural Language and Exact Thinking.
Fargo, Nancy L.
In considering the problems foreign students have with the determiners "the,""a/an,""some," and "all" (for which zero-determiner may be substituted), the author observes: (1) The semantic classifications of nouns often seem quite arbitrary to the foreigner. (2) There is always some minimal linguistic or situational context which must be specified if a sentence in which some given determiner, or determiners, occur is to be unambiguous. (3) There are numerous minimal contrasts which exemplify the various uses of determiners. (4) A specification of the various uses of both obligatory and optional determiners is not so complex as some grammar books would lead us to suppose. Assuming Bertrand Russel's definitions, the author formulates the concepts common to sentences involving the words "the,""a/an,""some," and zero-determiner. Examples are given to provide evidence for the "incompatibility of natural language and exact thinking," based on the following reasons: (1) It is awkward and confusing to represent variables in natural languages. (2) It is impossible to clearly separate names from descriptions. (3) Grammatical conventions result in the representation of the same concepts in different ways and different concepts in the same ways. The author concludes that natural language cannot be used in exact thinking or for the exact description of natural languages. (AMM)
Publication Type: N/A
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Johns Hopkins Univ., Baltimore, MD. Neurocommunications Lab.
Identifiers: Natural Languages
Note: Paper presented at the Interdisciplinary Study Group on the Language Sciences meeting, Johns Hopkins Univ., Baltimore, Md., Nov. 16, 1967, and published in 1968 Annual Report, Neurocommunications Lab., Dept of Psychiatry, JHU.