--- Henrik Theiling <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>It depends on what Decartes meant. :-) Could you give
me a deeper
>semantical analysis of the original sentence?

Hmm, should rather have stayed quiet in my corner.
What did Descartes mean ? I can only try explaining
how I understand him.
IMO, "I think, therefore I am" is nearly the same as
"IF (A < B AND B < C) THEN (A < C)"
So "(A < B AND B < C)" is not the CAUSE that (A < C);
it is just a basical law of logic. If you deny it,
then you cannot build any logic any more. Thinking
implies existence. If you deny it, you cannot build
any philosophical system any more (anyway, that's what
Descartes thought, or rather what I think Descartes
thougt...) Cause should be cause of an event, or of a
situation depending on an event. There is no event
there. So there is no causative neither. Simple, isn't
it ? ;-)

>> The real question being: a language is very well,
but shall we talk
>> about ? It is the referent world that determines
the language, IMO.

>I don't understand that.  Could you explain that
point in some detail?

I typed too fast. I meant "a language is very well,
but WHAT shall we talk about ?", of course.
I mean, if a language should be used only for
describing an Euclidian 2d geometrical world (plans,
squares, cicles, lines, segments, dots and so on), for
instance, then you don't need any semantical classes
like: events; physical objects; living beings; human
beings; social concepts; and so on (you don't need the
expression "down from"). But if you want to talk about
animals, for ex, or people, then you MUST have all
those I mentioned (in case of social concepts, it
could be a reduced set if you sticked to animals).

You could have a language made only for documenting a
database system (I say so because I'm reading Oracle's
documentation at the time: they talk very little about
mice, ferry-boats, ikebana or political systems).

So the language should be built according to the
referent world you want to use it for. And so it is in
natlangs. If they are ghosts, spirits or gods in you
referent world, then you must have words, or even
classes, to talk about them.

I forgot to mention that I was interested by your idea
of expressing valence, both semantically and
syntactically (if I got it all right). But I wasn't
convinced by your example: she works at a book. I
would perhaps agree if it you had said:
"To sing" = semantic valence = 1 (mandatory), +1
(optionnally). Ex: I sing # I sing a ballad.
"She sings a song to me" = syntactical valence 3 (she,
a song, to me)
But in "she works at a book", in understand "she works
writing a book", or "making a book", for ex, so I
would call it a development of "to work" rather than a
valence role.
It's like:
- I'll tell you a good joke.
- What joke ?
- Well, it's about a fool standing on a ladder, and...
[...] I'll take the ladder away !
From "Well" to "away !", this is a development (an
unfolding) of the word "joke".
- She's working.
- What is she working ?
- Writing a book.

Philippe Caquant

"High thoughts must have high language." (Aristophanes, Frogs)

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