Losing supposition

Hypothesis: The shift from inflected to invariant languages makes it harder to see supposition, or the idea that meaning is only an element in speech and needs a complement in use. All categorematic terms in inflected languages are composites of meaning and use: you can’t separate the meaning of “magnus” (conveyed by the stem magn-) from the information about how it is used any more than, when talking about yourself in English you can separate what “I” and “me” mean from their relation to a verb.

Supposition adds, beyond the sense that language conveys meaning, that it also has an underlying structure allowing it to be used in definite ways. It’s this feature that we’d expect someone to be most interested in when he saw language as limiting and structuring human thought.


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