Is a Tenseless Language Possible?

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Whether it takes the form of a translation or of giving truth-conditions, any putative reduction of tensed language to tenseless language will be undermined if it can be shown that there could be no genuinely tenseless language. A similar problem faced traditional phenomenalism: it was far from clear that there could be a ‘language of sense-data’. Either the imagined language was no language at all, or it was dependent upon object-language, not the other way around. A parallel dilemma faces tenseless reductionism. In spelling out what a tenseless language would be like, one either ends up with something that no creature could have as a language, or with something that is parasitic upon tensed language - not the other way around.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: New College, Oxford

Publication date: April 1, 1998

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