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Andrea Bianchi

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198714088

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198714088.001.0001

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Speaker’s Reference and Cross-Cultural Semantics

Speaker’s Reference and Cross-Cultural Semantics

(p.62) 3 Speaker’s Reference and Cross-Cultural Semantics
On Reference

Edouard Machery

Justin Sytsma

Max Deutsch

Oxford University Press

Machery et al. (2004) have presented data suggesting that, while most Americans have Kripkean (i.e., causal–historical) intuitions about the reference of proper names, a majority of Chinese have descriptivist intuitions. A common criticism of this reported cross-cultural variation is that the vignettes used to probe their participants’ intuitions about reference, and asked questions that are ambiguous with regard to the distinction between speaker’s reference and semantic reference. This chapter describes several studies using vignettes designed to elicit answers that were not ambiguous between speaker’s reference and semantic reference. The findings suggest that genuine intuitions about semantic reference vary both across and within cultures.

Keywords:   reference, descriptivism, causal–historical theories, Kripke, cross-cultural variation

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