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senses too, as the following practice
section illustrates.
Practice (1) Write down two sentences bringing out clearly the two different
meanings of The chicken is ready to eat.
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(2) Write down two sentences bringing out clearly the two different senses
of He greeted the girl with a smile.
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(3) Do likewise for He turned over the field.
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PART ONE Basic ideas in semantics
30
Feedback (1) The chicken is ready to be eaten vs The chicken is ready to eat 
something (2) Smiling, he greeted the girl vs He greeted the smiling girl
(3) He changed direction over the field vs He turned the field over (where
he = a pilot or he = a ploughman or a farmer)
Comment On the relationship between sense and reference: the referent of an
expression is often a thing or a person in the world; whereas the sense of an
expression is not a thing at all. In fact, it is difficult to say what sort of entity
the sense of an expression is. Intuitively, it is sometimes useful to think of
sense as that part of the meaning of an expression that is left over when
reference is factored out. It is much easier to say whether or not two
expressions have the same sense. (Like being able to say that two people are
in the same place without being able to say where they are.) The sense of an
expression is an abstraction, but it is helpful to note that it is an abstraction
that can be entertained in the mind of a language user. When a person
understands fully what is said to him, it is reasonable to say that he grasps the
sense of the expressions he hears.
Rule Every expression that has meaning has sense, but not every expression has
reference.
Practice Do the following words refer to things in the world?
(1) almost Yes / No
(2) probable Yes / No
(3) and Yes / No
(4) if Yes / No
(5) above Yes / No
Feedback None of the above words refers to a thing in the world. Nevertheless all 
these words, almost, probable, and, if, and above have some sense.
Practice (1) When you look up the meaning of a word in a dictionary, what do you
find there, its referent, or an expression with the same sense?
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(2) Is a dictionary full of words or full of things, like a box or a sack?
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(3) Could a foreigner learn the meanings of his very 
first words of English by having their typical referents 
pointed out to him? Yes / No
(4) Could a foreigner learn the meanings of his very first words 
of English by looking them up in an English dictionary? Yes / No
UNIT 3 Reference and sense
31
Feedback (1) an expression with the same sense (2) full of words (3) Yes (4) No
Comment There is something essentially circular about the set of definitions in a
dictionary. Similarly, defining the senses of words and other expressions
often has something of this circular nature. This is not necessarily a bad
thing, and in any case it is often unavoidable, since in many cases (e.g. cases
of expressions that have no referents: and, etc.) there is no way of indicating
the meaning of an expression except with other words.
Just as there is something grammatically complete about a whole
sentence, as opposed to a smaller expression such as a phrase or a single
word, there is something semantically complete about a proposition, as
opposed to the sense of a phrase or single word. One might say, roughly,
that a proposition corresponds to a complete independent thought.
Practice Are the senses of the following expressions propositions?
(1) Johnny has got a new teacher Yes / No
(2) A new teacher (not understood as an elliptical 
sentence-fragment) Yes / No
(3) Johnny (not understood as an elliptical sentence-fragment) Yes / No
(4) This is the house that Jack built Yes / No
Feedback (1) Yes (2) No (3) No (4) Yes
Comment To the extent that perfect translation between languages is possible (and this
is a very debatable point, as mentioned earlier), essentially the same sense can
be said to belong to expressions in different languages.
Practice (1) Do M. Berger s’est rasé ce matin and M. Berger shaved 
himself this morning express the same proposition? Yes / No
(2) Do the two sentences in (1) have the same sense? Yes / No
(3) Do the expressions ce matin and this morning have the 
same sense? Yes / No
(4) Do the expressions s’est rasé and shaved himself
have the same sense? Yes / No
(5) Does ein unverheirateter Mann have the same sense 
as an unmarried man? Yes / No
Feedback (1) Yes, perhaps. One might well object, however, that s’est rasé in French 
is not a perfect translation of shaved, since it could also be rendered as has
shaved. (2) Yes, with the same reservations as for question (1). (3) Yes
(4) Perhaps (5) Yes, assuming that unverheiratet in German has essentially
the same meaning as unmarried in English.
PART ONE Basic ideas in semantics
32
UNIT 3 Reference and sense
33
Comment Just as one can talk of the same sense in different languages, so one can
talk of expressions in different dialects of one language as having the same
sense.
Practice (1) Do pavement in British English and sidewalk in 
American English have the same sense? Yes / No
(2) Do pal and chum have the same sense? Yes / No
(3) Can expressions with entirely different social connotations 
have the same sense? For example, can the following have 
the same sense?
People walking in close spatio-temporal proximity
People walking near each other Yes / No
Feedback (1) Yes (2) Yes (3) Yes
Comment The relationship between reference and utterance is not so direct as that
between sense and proposition, but there is a similarity worth pointing out.
Both referring and uttering are acts performed by particular speakers on
particular occasions.
Practice Imagine that a friend of yours says to you, ‘John is putting on weight these
days’, and imagine that a friend of ours (i.e. the authors of this book)
happens to utter the same sentence to us one day.
(1) Would this be a case of one utterance or two?
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(2) Would the John referred to be the same John or two different Johns?
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Feedback (1) two (2) almost certainly, two different Johns
Comment In the two separate utterances above, there are two separate acts of referring.
In fact, most utterances contain, or are accompanied by, one or more acts of
referring. An act of referring is the picking out of a particular referent by a
speaker in the course of a particular utterance.
Although the concept of reference is fundamentally related to utterances,
in that acts of reference only actually happen in the course of utterances, we
will find it useful to stretch a point and talk about reference in connection
with sentences, or parts of sentences. What we are really doing in cases like
this is imagining a potential utterance of the sentence or expression in
question.
In everyday conversation the words meaning, means,

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