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Form, meaning, and reference in natural language : a phenomenological account of proper names

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

In my book Eigenname und Bedeutung (1996), I started from the observation that modern theories of proper names fail to do justice to the specific and complex semantic nature of proper names. Since the 1960U+2019s and 1970U+2019s, theorizing about proper names has been dominated largely by scholars working in the traditions of analytic philosophy and logic, in particular John R. Searle and Saul Kripke. I argued, however, that the highly specific kind of meaning typical of proper names should be studied within a theory more in touch with general linguistics proper. The main philosophical (especially referential) and logical (especially formal) accounts start from the assumption that a proper name is U+201Cbacked upU+201D by encyclopaedic information held by speakers of the referents (Searle), or that a proper name is a meaningless, yet rigidly designating sign (Kripke). In contrast to these views, I argue that a general linguistic definition of the proper name has to focus not only on logical and philosophical issues, but also on the specifically linguistic semantic function of the proper name as a U+201Cpart of speechU+201D in actual utterances. This approach has nothing to do with pragmatics or discourse analysis, but aims at describing proper names and appellative nouns as categories of speech in language use, bringing into play a functional focus on proper names that has largely been lacking in definitions of the proper name so far. An outline of a semantic theory of proper names is then proposed based on some aspects of a U+201Cphenomenology of language and linguisticsU+201D as found in the work of Edmund Husserl and Eugenio Coseriu. Roughly speaking, Husserl represents the general epistemological implications of the paper and Coseriu its specifically linguistic aspects.
Journal: Diacronia
ISSN: 2393-1140
Volume: 11
Number of pages: 1
Publication year:2020