Tuesday, June 6, 2017


There is a need to show whether a particular statement applies to anything particular, at least potentially, something already covered by the media. This statement is conceived like this but it could take different forms. Perhaps a whole series of statements needs to conform to this standard.

If you take, This cow is dead. There is the need to see which dead cow it applies to. But, pragmatically, if the recipients are familiar with the dead cow, there would be no need to say this. So there is this division between a statement where the referent is not understood and where the audience is all too familiar with the statement that stating it would be superfluous. This is the problem of how statements relate to an audience or recipient.

So the meaning of statement can be different and depending on differing audiences, dependent on the recipient. The author of such statements might not have access to the recipient. The author might not know how the recipients form their interpretations. There are issues of linguistic distance or political affiliation which could also color meanings.

But we could stipulate a standard state of communication where all parties are on the same page. All are fully knowledgeable about what the words mean and are willing to understand what is being communicated. Many statements about groups of people such as ethnic groups or gender are more easily grasped than the original example of the dead cow.

So this is not an issue of how the language is being used. This is not a problem where no communication is possible because the dead cow cannot be identified. It can but it has been done without someone else pointing it out. It is also different than saying, All dead cows are dead. Aside from it being tautologous, it is discovered differently from the original.

Let's use another example, I have skill in cooking. I put it like this to show how it is discovered or interpreted. Perhaps this example relies more on the speaker showing what he means than when he says, the cow is dead. Pragmatically, the statement about being able to cook requires less work than the one with the cow because you only need to look at the speaker to identify who the good cook is. The same could be said if, you are are good cook, was used instead.

So for the issue of identifying the subject being dependent on the audience has the issue of allowing them to find out what it is. However, given that some cow is dead, the important thing is that what is being predicated about the cow is what is primarily being asserted. I have cooking skill, says that skill in cooking is apart from myself. This does not go beyond the meaning of what was said.

The issue about the audience comes when we would like to find about the subject in relation to some other consideration like where and when. Let's say this situation already has the standard ideal where everyone has access to this but the statement remains alone. Is this still a problem if everything else is known about it? There is an issue of relevance but beyond that how does the recipient know which background info is useful in this instance?

Say that there are 10 cows with one being dead. The dead cow needs to be recognized as such unlike a statement about you or me if we are interested beyond the fact that some dead cow is in fact dead. The identification of the subject is made beyond the statement. Naming usually bridges the gap between the name and what is being named. Betsy is dead, let us say. Is this a different statement from, This cow is dead, given our ideal conditions?

Adding this ideal condition reveals the need of providing necessary background information for some assertions. One could then further inquire what is the minimum. Then, pragmatically again, or within a local environment where 'this' and 'that' because meaningful markers, we could say that the audience understood all this.