Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Language is precise

I think one reason mathematicians do not consider language the proper subject of mathematics is because they believe language is vague. By contrast I think language is precise and what seems vague is the use of implicit language. However implicit language follows very specific rules (laid out as the "Truisms") and it is highly efficient. When truisms are explicitly re-inserted into the sentences where they apply, the result is an object with well defined mathematical properties. By which I mean a sentence has an exact description as a formal expression, that is subject to well defined transformations by substitutions that preserve narrative role.


  1. Hey Peter,
    (Surprise) Its Toby, can you give an example of a Truism rule in a sentence with implicit language, that when reinserted makes a sentence well defined? Trying to grasp what you are saying here. Maybe understanding this hinges of the last sentence too/ what is a narrative role?

  2. Hi Toby:

    One truisms says: What affects me can cause me to act. For example:

    I was angry [insert here] and kicked the dog.

    [Compare with "It was a nice day and I kicked the dog"]

    Another example is the truisms: a 'what is a 'not there' is replaced by a 'there'. For example:

    "I was hungry so I ate"

    Two things are involved. (1) The meaning of "hungry" is: lack of food. (2) The inserted truism 'what is lacking is full filled'. So
    I was hungry [hungry=(lack of food) and that becomes presence of food] so I ate.

    We should take a walk next time you are in Concord.

  3. The full discussion of truisms, the idea of narrative roles and the mathematical property ("narrative continuity") is in "The Elements of Narrative", linked at the top right of this blog.