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Henrik Theiling wrote:
>>>
[I wrote with respect to T4 (Telona):]
> - an utterance consists of a single phrase, and is interpreted as
> the assertion of the existence of at least one referent of that
> phrase
Hmm, I don't know whether I understand that.  How to you say: 'Goblins
never sleep?' (assuming that goblins don't exist)
<<<

By creating a referent which means 'the generality of goblins at all
places and times', modifying it by 'is something other than asleep',
and then asserting the existence of the resulting modified referent -
that is, 'there exists a group of all goblins which is other than
asleep'.  In T4 interlinear notation, {gen góblin not + asleep.}.

If the point of your question was "how do you talk about things that
don't exist?", then there are a number of possible answers.  In the
above example, either goblins do exist as far as the speaker is
concerned, or the sentence concerns a fictional world in which goblins
exist.  In either case, goblins do exist from the point of view of
sentence construction.

One could also wonder how to talk about a counterfactual situation:
"If X had won the election, I would have left the country."  There is
more than one solution here, but the principle is to embed the
counterfactual referent within a phrase whose head is a marker of
counterfactuality.

Does that answer the question?

Jonathan.

[reply to jonathan underscore knibb at hotmail dot com]
--
'O dear white children casual as birds,
Playing among the ruined languages...'
Auden/Britten, 'Hymn to St. Cecilia'