Week 2

Sense and Reference

What words in these three sentences refer to entities in the world?

(1) António Guterres is the Secretary General of UN.

(2) Recently he has been negotiating with Donald Trump, the American President, over the peace process in the Middle East.

And in these?

(3) I believe in ghosts.

(4) There are five ‘ands’ between ‘Pig and Whistle’.

(‘Pig’ and ‘and’ and ‘and’ and ‘Whistle’.)

reference: relationship between linguistic (e.g. word) and external world.

e.g. book ® &

By ‘reference’ a speaker indicates which entities (things & people) are being talked about.

sense: system of relationships among linguistic elements themselves (Saussure)

e.g.      (a) magazine / newspaper / book / pamphlet / leaflet / journal

            (b) criticize / praise / accuse / assess / blame / reprimand

(5) “The Morning Star is (identical with) the Evening Star.”

            one and the same reference = Venus

            two senses: ‘the star seen in the morning’ v. ‘the star seen in the evening’

(6)       Shakespeare: the author of ‘Othello’

A ‘sense-only’ view of ‘meaning’

“Meaning, often called sense in contrast to reference, is what one can understand from the words alone, divorced from the context of use, so it does not change depending on who is speaking; a referent is something that one can point to (refer to) with some words, and it almost always depends on who is speaking, when and where…

[Hofmann 1993: 12]

(7) What would be the referent of the phrase The present president used in USA:

            a. in 2009 ……………………………………

            a. in 2004 ……………………………………

            b. in 1996 ……………………………………

            c. in 1990 ……………………………………

(8) Say whether the pair of words between parentheses have the same or different meaning

            a. I (almost/nearly) fell over

            b. It is (likely/probable) that Ali will be here tomorrow

            c. Your gatepost doesn’t seem quite (vertical/upright)

            d. I’ll see you on (Monday/Tuesday)

 In everyday conversation the words meaning, means, mean, meant, etc. are sometimes used to indicate reference, and sometimes to indicate sense.

(9) What is intended by the word mean, meaning, etc. in the following examples, reference or sense.

a. When Helen mentioned “the fruit cake”, she meant that rock-hard object in the middle of the table.

b. When Albert talks about “his former friend” he means me.

c. Daddy, what does unique mean?

d. Purchase has the same meaning as buy

e. Look up the meaning of Armageddon in your dictionary

f. If you look out of the window now, you’ll see who I mean.

                           Sense-relationships

SYNONYMY:             sameness (identity)/similarity of meaning

                        big – large – great;       match – game

ANTONYMY:                        oppositeness of meaning

                        ugly / beautiful;          tall / short;                   wet / dry;

                                    male / female; above / below;            red / green;

HYPONYMY:                        inclusion: one meaning in another

                        tulip, daffodil, chrysanthemum, rhododendron

                                    Ä                                                         Ã

                                                            flower

HOMONYMY:                                   many meanings

                        match (3); game (3)

                        {multiple dictionary entries}

POLYSEMY:                          many meanings

                        head (of body / of firm / of beer);

                                    heart (of body / of country / of problem)

                        {single dictionary entry}

HOMOPHONY:                                same sound but different meaning

                        break – brake;              whales – wails – Wales

                           Sense, Reference & Referring Expressions

1. Referring Expressions (REs)

Definition

“A REFERRING EXPRESSION is any expression used in an utterance to refer to something or someone (or a clearly delimited collection of things or people), i.e. used with a particular referent in mind.”

[Hurford & Heasley, p. 35]

Three classes of REs     proper names     definite noun phrases     personal pronouns

The REs are underlined in this set of sentences.

Francis is the Pope. He is the first ever Pope from Argentina.

TASK 1

Are the underlined expressions referring expressions (imagine normal circumstances for the utterance)

            a. “Nancy married a Norwegian”

            b. “Nancy wants to marry a Norwegian”

            c. “If anyone marries Nancy, he‘s in for a bad time”

            d. “My laptop computer is very expensive. I bought it for DH 12000”

            f. “Every evening at sunset a swan flew over the house”

TASK 2

Complete these examples of the ‘same reference, different senses’ as in the case of “Morning Star/Evening Star” example.

  • Shakespeare                      _______________________________________________
  • Netherlands                       _______________________________________________
  • the phone book     _______________________________________________
  • Donald Trump                  _______________________________________________
  • The Kremlin         _______________________________________________
  • The Pentagon                    _______________________________________________

Now, find 3 examples of your own. Write down the different senses.

  1. _____________________________________________________________________
  2. _____________________________________________________________________
  3. _____________________________________________________________________


                                    Predicates

1. In the following sentences, delete the referring expression and write down the remainder to the right of the example.

            a. My dog bit the postman                              ……..…………………………..

            b. Mr. Kent is writing the Mayor’s speech     ……..…………………………..

            c. Cairo is in Africa                                        ……..…………………………..

            d. Lebanon is between Syria and Turkey       ……..…………………………..

            e. John’s car is red                                           ……..…………………………..

2. In the remainder of each case above, it is possible to discern on word (or part of word) which carries more meaning than the others. Write them down.

a. ……..…………………………..

            b. ……..…………………………..

            c. ……..…………………………..

            d. ……..…………………………..

            e. ……..…………………………..

The PREDICATOR of a single declarative sentence is the word (sometimes a group of words) which does not belong to any of the referring expressions and which, of the remainder, makes the most specific contribution to the meaning of the sentence.  

 

 

 

3. Underline the predicators in the following sentences

            a. I am hungry

            b. Joe is in San Francisco

            c. The Mayor is a crook

            d. The man who lives at number 10 Crescent Road is whimsical

 

A PREDICATE is any word (or sequence of words) which can function as the predicator of a sentence.  hungry, in, crook, show, bottle are predicates and, or, but, not are not predicate    

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Are the following predicates?

            a. dusty                                    d. you

            b. drink                                    e. Fred

c. woman                                f. about

WORKSHOP

TASK 1:

The following pairs of words can be used interchangeably in certain contexts, i.e. they share the same sense. However, they do not share all senses.

For each pair,

  • Provide a sentence in which the two words could be used interchangeably without altering the sense of the sentence.

  • Provide a sentence using one of the words where the other would be unacceptable.

Example: hide/conceal
The thief tried to hide/conceal the evidence.
He attempted to hide himself behind the door. (Hurford et. al. 2007)

a. incomplete/unfinished

b. ripe/mature

c. unfair/unjust

d. earth/soil

e. little/small

TASK 2:

For each of the following, imagine the sentence being spoken in an average kind of situation. Discuss which elements would be used to refer in your situation.

a. A prisoner escaped from jail.

b. He helps himself to my food when he’s hungry.

c. She’s feeling bad.

d. They help each other whenever possible.

e. There are three ‘ins’ below

TASK 3:

Underline the referring expression(s) in each sentence

a. John hit me.

b. There is no John at this address.

c. A man came looking for you.

d. Bring me an apple from the market.

e. He was off school last week.