Institut Jean Nicod

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Kasia Kijana-Placek (Université de Cracovie)

Vendredi 28 avril 2017  2016 de 11h30 à 13h

Institut Jean-Nicod, Pavillon Jardin, ENS, 29, rue d'Ulm 75005. Salle de réunion, RDC

Kasia Kijana-Placek (Université de Cracovie)

"A polysemous account of proper names"

Proper names are usually considered as devices of singular reference. Considered as wordtypes, however, they also exhibit other kinds of uses (Burge 1973, Fara 2015a,b, Jeshion 2012, 2015, Elbourne 2005, Leckie 2013). I propose an account of proper names in terms of a generalized conception of polysemy, which I call rule-based systematic polysemy. The traditional theories of polysemy attempt to account for the multiplicity of stable senses for one linguistic unit, where the sense of a word determines its propositional contribution. Yet the insight that we may glean from the works of Kaplan (1989a,b) concerning the concept of linguistic meaning calls for a generalization of the understanding of the phenomena of polysemous meaning. According to Kaplan, expressions do not necessarily exhibit a meaning that provides content, i.e. propositional contribution, directly, but may instead rely on a rule that for the same word gives (possibly) different contents in different contexts. Combining the ideas of Kaplan with the traditional accounts of polysemy (Apresjan 1973; Pusteyovsky 1995; Pethö 2001), I will propose a two dimensional account of the latter that allows for connecting words not just with sets of stable senses, but also with sets of content generating rules (Kijania-Placek 2016).
I intend to show that the multiplicity of kinds of uses of proper names considered as word-types can be accounted for by the rule-based systematic polysemy, in which case we do not expect a set of stable senses determining concrete contents but rather a set of rules that generate contents in contexts. Basing the linguistic meaning of a name on a set of rules will
allow for an explanation of both the productivity as well as the systematicity of their uses. Each proper name may thus be used to express a virtually unlimited number of contents but, due to the systematic nature of the underlying mechanisms, the contents are crosslinguistically uniform and predictive. A rules based approach to polysemy thus allows us to account for both its conventional and generative aspects (Recanati, forthcoming).

Apresjan, J. (1973) Regular polysemy; Burge, T. (1973) Reference and Proper Names; Elbourne, P. (2005) Situations and individuals; Fara, D. (2015a) Names are predicates; (2015b) ‘Literal’ uses of proper names; Jeshion, R. (2012) A Rejoinder to Fara’s “‘Literal’ Uses of Proper Names”, (2015) Referentialism and Predicativism About Proper Names; Kaplan D. (1989a) Demonstratives, (1989b) Afterthoughts; Kijania-Placek (2016) Can Minimalism About Truth Embrace Polysemy? [forthcoming in Synthese]; Leckie, G. (2013) The Double Life of Names; Matushansky, O. (2008) On the Linguistic Complexity of Proper Names; Nunberg G. (1993) Indexicality and deixis; Pethö, G. (2001) What is polysemy?; Pustejovsky J. (1995) The Generative Lexicon; Recanati F. (1993) Direct Reference, (forthcoming) Contextualism and Polysemy.