• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Language as Truth

Extracts from this document...


Language as Truth In David Lewis' Languages and Language1 essay, he says that language is: A social phenomenon which is part of the natural history of human beings; a sphere of human action, wherein people utter strings of vocal sounds, or inscribe strings of marks, and wherein people respond by thought or action to the sounds or marks which they observe to have been so produced... He who produces sounds or marks does so for a reason... and he who responds to the sounds or marks in a certain way also does so for a reason (562). In other words, he argues that we speak English, rather than some other language, by convention, because that is what our society has conformed to, and therefore what we conform to as well. He then goes on to say that the meaning of a sentence, when combined with factual information about the world, yields a truth-value. I agree with Lewis' accounts of language. I agree that we speak English because the rest of our society speaks English, and I also agree that language, in general, has a truth-value behind it, because if it didn't, there would be no logic to communication. One main objection for Lewis' account on the meaning of a language L, is to assume a society of liars. ...read more.


I agree with Lewis here because the more we are exposed to something, the more likely we are to [want to] grow accustomed to acquire that which we are exposed to. For example, my mother's first language is Spanish. She was born in, and grew up in, the Dominican Republic. She moved to the United States when she was seventeen, and had me when she was eighteen. I was born in New York, and the first language she taught me was Spanish. My only exposure to a language was Spanish-the language I was spoken to at home. However, when it was time for me to go to school, my Spanish language was no longer the language of convention. All of my peers spoke English and I couldn't understand them, as they couldn't understand me. Therefore, my state of mind, at the time of my Spanish speaking days, was wanting to be able to respond to the sounds and marks that I was hearing from other speakers. My peers would say something to me with the intention of bringing about a response, and I wanted to be able to supply them with the response they were looking for, but the only way I would be able to respond to other speakers was if I conformed to their English language. ...read more.


He says that "in any case in which a language L clearly is used by a population P, then, it seems that there prevails in P a convention of truthfulness and trust in L, sustained by an interest in communication" (566). In other words, in order to be able to believe what another person is saying, there has to be a sense of truth and trust, otherwise you would disregard language and communication all together, and then what would be the point in conversation if all of it were all untrue and irrelevant? In sum, I agree with Lewis in the following accounts: 1) that language is acquired by convention, 2) we speak English because we are part of a society that speaks English, and we conformed to this language because our predecessors conformed to this language before us, and 3) that language is a convention of truthfulness and trust because in order for language to succeed, the hearer must believe what the speaker is saying to be an account of truth (or at least of what the speaker believes to be true), in order for the hearer, in his turn to speak, to receive the same consideration in return. 1 All information written in this paper was taken from Martinich, A.P. The Language of Philosophy, Fourth Edition. Oxford University Press, 2001. "Languages and Language" by David Lewis, pp. 562-580. 1 Karen Ortiz Philosophy 409 Final Paper December 18, 2004 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Language: Context, Genre & Frameworks section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Language: Context, Genre & Frameworks essays

  1. What are the consequences of societal multilingualism?

    The change in register, dialect or language may be referred to as a code, something decided upon by the individual speakers. 'Code,' is a useful term because it is neutral, it refers to any kind of system that two or more people employ for communication.

  2. Frontline - Telling the Truth

    Marty: Actually, that's a bloody good idea" Textual form also influences the meaning we derive from texts. The main aim of current affair programs is to gain populist appeal, the episode "Playing the Ego Card" emphasises this and how it is achieved through textual form.

  1. Investigation into Gender Differences in the Language of Personal Profiles on Dating Websites

    However, sometimes it would be nice to be in a restaurant and sit opposite a man who wasn't my dad or my son for a change (lovely as they are!) I love the sun and have travelled quite extensively, but I also love the British countryside.

  2. Extended response to journeys.

    This is communicated in the by line 'Not all journeys have an ending'. This statement challenges the audience to speculate about what this may denote.

  1. Why the Spanish Armada was defeated in 1588.

    The Spanish fighter ships would assist Parma's invasion force on their journey across the channel. As soon as they arrived in England, Philip planned to force Queen Elizabeth to meet any demands he made in exchange for her country. Philip would demand her to allow English Catholics to worship God

  2. How do Politicians gain support through language? AQA English coursework

    The past participle "raised" implies that Labour has widened opportunities for the people of Britain, although admittedly there is still more work to be done. The second main point that Blair makes, through use of metaphors, is his own and his party's desire to govern.

  1. The defeat of the Spanish Armada.

    Unfortunately it did not just fool the English; it fooled the Spanish as well. While the Spanish were anchored at Calais they were surprised by the English, which was a great movement since, if the Spanish had met the Duke's troops, there would have been no way for them to beat the Armada.

  2. The Sociolinguistics of Contemporary Spanish.

    For example: I-book: "...con iMovie, iTunes, el Nuevo iBook est� dise�ada para adaptarse a tu vida..."5 The 'interfix' is added in the middle of a word that already exists in the lexis. There are uncommon in the field of I.T. and perhaps more uncommon than the other affixes in general.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work