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  1. #11
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: When one ascribes truth to a picture one does not really want...

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I fully understand that this is merely a way for you to think about basic principles of meaning more than natural language use.
    Yes, that's exactly what I am doing - exploring the basic semantic properties of one and someone. And the best and way to do this is to run the Substitution Test (https://trans4mind.com/personal_deve...ution_test.htm).

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I strongly suggest that we stick to authentic language use from native speakers only wherever possible, please.
    Please, don't reject my substitution approach, at least this time. After all, isn't this subforum called General Language Discussion?

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    a) and b) yes.

    c) and d) no, because someone can't mean 'that student'. For example, in d), using two someones like that could well make the listener think that each 'someone' refers to a different person, rather than the same person, which is obviously what you mean.
    That's exactly what I thought.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    e) Yes, because someone and one are essentially the same in that they're both generic and indefinite.
    If both pronouns were essentially the same, we could replace the last one in the original with someone. But we can't. I think this is because one can be anaphorically definite (it's interchangeable with (s)he/that person in (a)), while someone can't. Which explains why (c-d) don't work, while (e) does. So, their semantic properties are different.
    Last edited by Alexey86; 23-Jan-2021 at 13:53.
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  2. #12
    jutfrank's Avatar
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    Re: When one ascribes truth to a picture one does not really want...

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    Yes, that's exactly what I am doing - exploring the basic semantic properties of one and someone. And the best and way to do this is to run the Substitution Test (https://trans4mind.com/personal_deve...ution_test.htm).
    Okay, understood.

    Please, don't reject my substitution approach, at least this time. After all, isn't this subforum called General Language Discussion?
    Okay, as long as we're aware of the shortfalls of such an approach, that's fine.

    That's exactly what I thought.
    Good.

    If both pronouns were essentially the same, we could replace the last one in the original with someone. But we can't. I think this is because one can be anaphorically definite (it's interchangeable with (s)he/that person in (a)), while someone can't. Which explains why (c-d) don't work, while (e) does. So, their semantic properties are different.
    Yes, that's right. The word some has an indefinite sense. Let me correct what I said before, then: someone and one can have the same kind of reference (indefinite), but one can be used anaphorically too (definite), where someone cannot. I think that sounds right.

    Just to add an extra level of complication, there also exists for some semanticists the notion of specific indefiniteness, which is used to describe those noun phrases that identify an entity more precisely than other indefinites. One view that uses this notion concerns the following pair of sentences:

    (a) Jane is married to a pilot.
    (b) Jane wants to marry a pilot.

    The view is that in (a) the NP a pilot has reference to a particular person, it's just that his identity is not being disclosed, whereas in (b) there is no particular person in mind. Therefore, the NP in (a) is specific and in (b) it isn't. I'm not sure what I think about this view, but I'm wondering if we can productively apply this notion of specific indefiniteness to our example paragraph. What do you think?
    Last edited by jutfrank; 23-Jan-2021 at 16:14.

  3. #13
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: When one ascribes truth to a picture one does not really want...

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    there also exists for some semanticists the notion of specific indefiniteness
    I know that notion and find it quite helpful when it comes to article/pronoun use. I also use the terms substantial (real, existing) vs non-substantial. Specificity and substantiality are not synonymous:

    Jane wants to marry a pilot. He/The pilot must be in the rank of captain at least.

    He/The pilot is more specific because of its anaphoric reference. But nevertheless, both a pilot and he/the pilot are non-substantial.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    What do you think?
    That's an excellent example helping to explore the nature of one and someone further:

    c) Do you know any pilot? Yeah, I know one (
    specific, substantial).
    d) One should be careful on the road (non-specific, non-substantial).

    Someone,
    although non-specific and non-substantial, would sound odd in (d), while everyone and anyone wouldn't. It seems a non-specific/non-substantial one in a general statement is closer to anyone than to someone.

    What do you think?

    Compare also the following examples with specific/substantial ones:

    e) Do you know anyone who can help me? Yeah, I know one.
    f) Do you know someone who can help me? Yeah, I know one.

    Which of these is preferable to you?
    Last edited by Alexey86; 23-Jan-2021 at 22:22.
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  4. #14
    jutfrank's Avatar
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    Re: When one ascribes truth to a picture one does not really want...

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    It seems a non-specific/non-substantial one in a general statement is closer to anyone than to someone.

    What do you think?
    Yes. The 'some' in the word someone has a sense of specificity there whereas 'any' in anyone doesn't.

    Compare also the following examples with specific/substantial ones:

    e) Do you know anyone who can help me? Yeah, I know one.
    f) Do you know someone who can help me? Yeah, I know one.

    Which of these is preferable to you?
    They're both completely unacceptable. The word one in the answer cannot work anaphorically to anyone/someone, which is what the reader's mind thinks it's doing. The best answers you can give to both of those questions are someone, another indefinite noun phrase with some, or a noun phrase with an indefinite article.

    Yeah, I know someone.
    Yeah, I know some bloke.
    Yeah, I know a guy.


    That's interesting, right? All of these seem to be good examples of specific indefiniteness, because in all three cases the speaker clearly has a particular (substantial) person in mind.
    Last edited by jutfrank; 26-Jan-2021 at 21:49. Reason: edit

  5. #15
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: When one ascribes truth to a picture one does not really want...

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    They're both completely unacceptable. The word one in the answer cannot work anaphorically to anyone/someone, which is what the reader's mind thinks it's doing.
    Wow! I didn't expect that. Really. My non-native ear was completely OK with one.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    The best answers you can give to both of those questions are someone, another indefinite noun phrase with some, or a noun phrase with an indefinite article.

    Yeah, I know someone.
    Yeah, I know some bloke.

    Yeah, I know a guy.

    That's interesting, right? Both of these seem to be good examples of specific indefiniteness, because in both cases the speaker clearly has a particular (substantial) person in mind.
    It seems we're dealing with quite a strict order of pronoun/noun choices based on the principle of increasing specificity: anyone -> someone -> some bloke/a guy -> one.

    a) Do you know anyone who can help me? Yeah, I know someone.
    b) Do you know someone who can help me? Yeah, I know a guy.
    c) Do you know a/any guy who can help me? Yeah, I know one.

    What if each example is a single sentence with strictly anaphoric reference:

    a-1) If you know anyone who can help me, I'd like to see (?)
    b-1) If you know someone who can help me, I'd like to see (?)
    c-1) If you know a/any guy who can help me, I'd like to see (?)


    Can I use the same variants as I did in (a-c)? I can't rely on my non-native ear now.
    Last edited by Alexey86; 26-Jan-2021 at 22:42.
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  6. #16
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    Re: When one ascribes truth to a picture one does not really want...

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    But what if I merge each example into one sentence with strictly anaphoric reference:

    a-1) If you know anyone who can help me, I'd like to see (?)
    b-1) If you know someone who can help me, I'd like to see (?)
    c-1) If you know a/any guy who can help me, I'd like to see (?)


    Can I use the same variants as I did in (a-c)? I can't rely on my non-native ear now.
    Technically, yes, but none of those answers are very likely.

    Here are some much more likely choices:

    a) The best choice is definitely the anaphoric them. Also possible, along with your answers, is a deictic expression, such as that person.
    b) As above.
    c) As above, but also possible here is him since the antecedent seems to be referring gender-specifically to a male, unlike the gender non-specific anyone/someone in a and b. (Also note that whereas a guy is fine in the first clause, any guy is not very natural in this context.)


    Edit: On further reflection, I can now see that your suggestion of using a non-anaphoric someone in a) is perfectly likely in the right context. A bit more likely than someone in b), I'd say (and why this may be is intriguing and worth exploring, I think).
    Last edited by jutfrank; 26-Jan-2021 at 22:58.

  7. #17
    Tarheel's Avatar
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    Re: When one ascribes truth to a picture one does not really want...

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    "When one ascribes truth to a picture one does not really want to ascribe a property which belongs to this picture altogether
    independently of other things, but one always has something quite different in mind and one wants to say that that picture
    corresponds in some way to this thing.
    (G. Frege, The Thought: A Logical Inquiry)"

    The first one is indefinite and equal to someone. The other ones are definite (anaphorically) and can be replaced by (s)he or this person. If I replaced the first one with a person/a man and continued repeating this indefinite NP, it would be a new/some other person every time, which wouldn't make sense. So I'd have to continue with this person/this man/he. But one can be used repeatedly maintaining anaphoric reference.

    Do someone, somebody and something share the same feature?
    I don't understand why you italicized the quotation instead of putting it within quote marks.
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  8. #18
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: When one ascribes truth to a picture one does not really want...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel View Post
    I don't understand why you italicized the quotation instead of putting it within quote marks.
    I thought I could either italicize quotations or use quote marks. Was I wrong?

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Technically, yes, but none of those answers are very likely.
    Could that be because two separate speakers make anaphoric reference weaker/partial (provided that the first object is unspecified)?

    a) Do you know anyone who can help me? Yeah, I know someone.
    a-1) If you know anyone who can help me, I'd like to see them.

    It seems the semantic bond between anyone and the relative clause in (a) isn't very strong, and the weak anaphoric someone is referring to the relative clause only (or mainly?). While the blue part in (a-1) is like an undividable monolith forcing the speaker to use the strong anaphoric them.

    What do you think?
    Last edited by Alexey86; 27-Jan-2021 at 15:16.
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  9. #19
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    Re: When one ascribes truth to a picture one does not really want...

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    Could that be because two separate speakers make anaphoric reference weaker/partial (provided that the first object is unspecified)?

    a) Do you know anyone who can help me? Yeah, I know someone.
    a-1) If you know anyone who can help me, I'd like to see them.
    I wouldn't say that there being two speakers makes anaphoric reference 'weaker'. I'd say that in a), anaphoric reference isn't possible. You can't use them, for example. I don't think that Speaker 2's someone can be correctly considered as anaphoric of Speaker 1's anyone since Speaker 1's anyone is completely non-specific.

    I'm not entirely sure what's going on with the reference in a-1) but I'm tempted to say that the anaphoric reference is only possible because the speaker's anyone is specific in some sense. It's like saying: If you have a specific person in mind, I'd like to see that person. This seems to be a great example of specific indefiniteness.

    It seems the semantic bond between anyone and the relative clause in (a) isn't very strong, and the weak anaphoric someone is referring to the relative clause only (or mainly?).
    I'm not completely sure I follow your thinking. someone obviously means only 'someone who can help you'. The relative clause gives definition to the pronoun.

    While the blue part in (a-1) is like an undividable monolith forcing the speaker to use the strong anaphoric them.
    I don't see the difference like that. In both sentences, the NP anyone who can help is equally 'undividable' in that the defining relative clause restricts (or 'defines') the head in precisely the same way. The difference, I think, lies in the degree of specificity in the speaker's mind. I'm not sure. I'll have to think about this more.

  10. #20
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: When one ascribes truth to a picture one does not really want...

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I wouldn't say that there being two speakers makes anaphoric reference 'weaker'. I'd say that in a), anaphoric reference isn't possible. You can't use them, for example.
    Nor would someone make much sense in the reply without being semantically related to anyone who can help me. So, it has to be anaphoric to some degree at least, doesn't it?

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I don't see the difference like that. In both sentences, the NP anyone who can help is equally 'undividable' in that the defining relative clause restricts (or 'defines') the head in precisely the same way.
    Consider the following:

    Do you know anyone who can help me? Yeah, I know someone who can help you.
    If you know anyone who can help me, I'd like to see them who can help me.

    Clumsiness aside, which of these is preferable/possible to you? If the former, then the anyone who can help me parts are not equally monolithic, i.e. it's easier for someone to take the relative clause from anyone splitting thus the monolith up.
    Last edited by Alexey86; 27-Jan-2021 at 18:00.
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